The Plains

The Plains (HM5A)

Location: The Plains, VA 20198 Fauquier County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 51.722', W 77° 46.451'

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The Death of a "Jessie Scout"

— Mosby's Confederacy, First Manassas Campaign, Second Manassas Campaign —

The Plains, situated on the Manassas Gap Railroad between Piedmont Station and Manassas Junction, was frequently traversed by troops from both sides.

Throughout the war, local resident Edward (Ned) Carter Turner kept a detailed diary. Ned's son, who died while in service, served with Mosby's Rangers while Ned's brother was a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. On August 30, 1862, following the Battle of Second Manassas, Turner wrote: "The fighting portion of the army [Confederate Army of Northern Virginia] has passed, but the whole country is swarming with stragglers or deserters who are making themselves extremely troublesome to the people. Our yards are crowded with them all day and the bar and stable lofts at night. They are begging for food of people who have none to give and are insolent and revengeful when disappointed."

Two days before, on August 28, a Federal spy was hanged on an oak tree just east of here (on modern Route 55). Jack Sterry was caught by Confederate Gen. John Hood and judged a "Jessie Scout," named for Jessie Fremont, wife of Union Gen. John Fremont, who suggested that Federal spies avoid detection by dressing in Confederate uniforms. Sterry was discovered when the soldier from whom he stole the uniform was found nearby, mortally wounded. The dying soldier identified his assailant, and the swift sentence was determined by a drum-head court. Nearly 75 years later, highway workers unearthed the remains of two soldiers, thought to be the spy and his victim, when widening Route 55.

Dr. Edward Clarke, a local physician, was a spy of a different sort. As Union troops passed his porch (now 6494 Main St.), he casually whittled a stick, carving a notch for each piece of artillery. A manservant took the notched stick to waiting Confederate officers.
HM NumberHM5A
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 4th, 2014 at 6:41pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 259292 N 4305124
Decimal Degrees38.86203333, -77.77418333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 51.722', W 77° 46.451'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 51' 43.32" N, 77° 46' 27.06" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540, 703
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6475-6483 VA-55, The Plains VA 20198, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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