Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave

Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave (HMVMI)

Location: Winchester, VA 22601
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 11.228', W 78° 9.857'

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Rebecca Wright and Thomas Laws

In September 1864, U.S. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan heard rumors that Confederate forces had left the Shenandoah Valley to rejoin Gen. Robert E. Lee's army at Petersburg. Wanting to confirm this information before attacking Gen. Jubal A. Early's army, Sheridan concocted a dangerous and intriguing scheme. He had learned that a loyal Quaker named Rebecca Wright lived in Winchester on this site. Also, a slave named Thomas Laws often passed through Confederate lines to sell vegetables in town. On September 16, 1864, just three days before the Third Battle of Winchester, Sheridan wrote to Wright, "I learn...that you are a loyal lady and still love the old flag. Can you inform me of the position of Early's forces? Have any more troops arrived from Richmond?" In closing he wrote, "You can trust the bearer." Laws rolled the note in tin foil and placed it in his mouth. During the Civil War the penalty for spying was death.

Wright wrote in reply, "The division of General [Joseph B.] Kershaw, and [Lt. Col. Wilfred E.] Cutshaw's artillery, twelve guns and men...have been sent away, and no more are expected." She added, "the bearer may call again." She gave the message to Laws, who bravely crossed back to Union lines. Sheridan had the confirmation he needed and days later attacked, routed Early, and forced the Confederates out of Winchester, which would remain under Union control through the end of the war.
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, August 31st, 2014 at 5:47pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 744921 N 4341374
Decimal Degrees39.18713333, -78.16428333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 11.228', W 78° 9.857'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 11' 13.68" N, 78° 9' 51.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 50 E Fairfax Ln, Winchester VA 22601, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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