BlackBurn\'s Ford

When Virginia chose to secede from the Union, two days after Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to defend the Union and put down the rebellion in the southern states after the fall of Ft. Sumter in South Carolina, life in northern Virginia was to irrevocably change. By June, scattered regiments of Confederate troops had begun to gather in Prince William and Fairfax Counties, just as Union soldiers were assembling in and around Washington, D.C. The prevailing strategy for both armies at the time, Federal and Confederate, was to capture the capital of the opposing side and declare victory. This objective was expected to be quickly and relatively painlessly achieved by each side.

On May 21, 1861 Gen. Irvin McDowell was put in charge of the newly created Dept. of Northeastern Virginia and he set about training his green army. Down in Richmond, on May 31, 1861, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was given command of the Confederate Army of the Potomac. Both generals from the beginning realized the importance of controlling Manassas Junction, the intersection of two major railroad lines, the Orange & Alexandria and the Manassas Gap Railroad. Anticipating that if the Federals were to move south they would head first for Manassas Junction, the Confederates immediately established a defense line along Bull Run River. Beauregard was in Manassas by the next day. He organized his force into six brigades. By the middle of July fortifications and earthworks had been constructed and all of the crossings on the run were guarded, from the Stone Bridge all the way to the Occoquan. The strongest concentration of forces was in approximately the middle of the line at Mitchell’s Ford.

Although Beauregard had initially favored an offensive strategy, the idea was rejected by Richmond and he was forced onto the defensive. He believed, probably because of intelligence received from a very well organized Confederate spy ring operating out of Washington, D.C., that when McDowell chose to strike it would be at Mitchell’s Ford. Beauregard clung to this conviction up until the morning of the big battle on July 21st, when Union troops appeared at the Stone Bridge and Sudley Ford and he had to quickly deploy most of the nine brigades he had assembled between Mitchell’s and Union Mills Fords towards the Warrenton Turnpike where the battle had begun to unfold.

On the 16th of July, 1861 McDowell began to advance his army along four separate routes from Washington towards Manassas Junction. By the end of the next day, the Confederate army had abandoned its many camps in Fairfax County and retreated across the run to Prince William County. Though McDowell had originally planned to strike at the Confederate right flank near the junction, by the morning of July 18th he had changed plans and decided to concentrate his forces at Centreville and hit the Confederate right flank. The terrain there was more advantageous for making an attack.

McDowell’s army was organized into five divisions. He ordered the division of Gen. Daniel Tyler to take Centreville at first light on the 18th. As Tyler’s division advances to the little town early on the morning of the 18th, the brigade of Col. Israel Richardson is in the lead. He arrives about 9 a.m. and finds the town evacuated by the Confederates and so heads down the road to Blackburn’s Ford in search of water and a place to rest his men. He stops the brigade beside a spring, where Gen. Tyler joins them at mid-day.

Tyler has been instructed by McDowell to “Observe well the roads to Bull Run and Manassas. Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas.” He and Richardson decide to reconnoiter the roads leading to the two nearest fords, Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s. They arrive at a clearing near the fords and can see very well that an enemy brigade is guarding Mitchell’s Ford. What they can’t see is that a brigade of Confederates under Gen. James Longstreet is concealed in the brush and cover surrounding Blackburn’s Ford. Tyler isn’t naïve enough to assume that the ford is unguarded, but he has no idea of what the strength of the force there could be and he decides to try and find out.

Up to this point, Tyler has been in compliance with McDowell’s directive. He is overconfident, though, because of the retreat of the Confederates on the 17th before the advancing Union army. He assumes that they will continue to retreat, and probably with visions of glory for himself and his division he defies the order not to engage in battle and begins an attack. He has with him two or three companies of men and some artillery and cavalry. The battle at Blackburn’s Ford begins, and ends, as an artillery duel between the two armies.

Tyler calls forward the rest of Richardson’s brigade. Initially he has only the two cannons of Lt. Benjamin firing on the Confederates, until the arrival of Sherman’s Battery led by Capt. Romeyn Ayres. He places Ayres beside Benjamin and the two sides, Union and Confederate, fire back and forth at each other to little avail. The duel is brief and then Col. Richardson orders forward two companies of the 1st Massachusetts. Initially they push aside the few enemy skirmishers they encounter (Longstreet’s Virginians). When they move into the woods, they meet a company of Confederates and confusion ensues. Both the Massachusetts men and the Confederates are wearing gray uniforms. A group of Michigan soldiers arrive at the scene and have trouble as well discerning who’s who. A gray clad Lt. William Smith of the 1st Mass. stumbles into the woods and calls out, “Who are you?” to the soldiers there. “Who are you?” the Confederates yell back. “Massachusetts men,” Smith answers and is promptly shot dead.

The Federals continue their advance to an open slope above the ford and meet terrible fire from three sides. They are forced to retreat back to the hill where the artillery is located. Although Tyler is being cautioned by an aide of McDowell’s not to proceed, he orders two of Ayres’ guns forward to the skirmish line and deploys Richardson’s entire brigade towards the ford.

Gen. William t. Sherman, with his brigade, was waiting in reserve at Centreville and he is called forward. “For the first time in my life I saw cannonballs strike men and crash into trees…sickening confusion,” he remembers after the battle. He also displays a bit of humor. As soon as his men come under fire they begin ducking and hiding behind trees. He yells at them for ducking the shells, “By the time you hear them it’s too late!” Just then, as an extremely loud shell whines overhead, Sherman instinctively leans in close to his horse’s neck. He straightens back up, grinning, and tells them, “Well boys, you may dodge the big ones!”

On the opposite side of the run, Gen. Longstreet is caught in the middle of fire between the Federals and the 7th Virginia. He is forced to dismount and lie on the ground until the firing ceases. His horse runs off without him and he is briefly assumed to be killed. On their way into the battle, the 7th Virginia pass Gen. Beauregard, who has established temporary headquarters at the McLean farm nearby. Beauregard is in full Confederate uniform – and wearing a straw hat!

By the late afternoon, the 12th N.Y has been deployed to the left of the artillery and the 1st Mass. and the 2nd and 3rd Michigan are on the right. The New Yorkers eventually break and run, exposing the 1st Mass. and the Michiganders. Col. Richardson yells to them, “Why are you running? There’s no enemy here. Where’s your colonel?” He sends word of this to Gen. Tyler who personally comes over. Richardson still wants to rally his men and charge again, thinking he can still dislodge the Confederates. He didn’t earn the nickname “Fighting Dick” for nothing. Tyler decides to retreat though. McDowell arrives and is angry at Tyler, who then proposes that he could still beat Beauregard. McDowell curtly tells him that he doesn’t intend to fight the main battle that day. He orders Tyler to re-occupy the hill where the fight was begun though. When McDowell leaves, Tyler again disobeys orders and marches his men back to Centreville.

The battle did provide useful intelligence in that it revealed the strength of the Confederate position there. The first taste of warfare for many of the participants, it was perceived as a Union loss. Tremendous psychological damage was done to the Union morale, however, while Confederate confidence was greatly bolstered. The Union casualties were 83. The Confederates reported 68.

Civil War Hut Site 3/22/13 Culpeper VA

Relic hunting in Virginia is truly an incredible experience. In this set of photos are one of many hut or fire pits left by soldiers who faught and camped at Brandy Station.


Above is a pic of me after digging out the fire place/trash pit. Here I am holding the top portion, one of three, broken, catherdral bottles. I was able to salvage one complete one however and most of a crockware style bowl. I also found a complete ration tin and 3/4 of a wiskey bottle. Other than that most everything was broken. While carefully removing layers of soil and ash it became evident why much of the bottles in this pit were broken. Many were found under or next to the large rocks that were no doubt used to line the fire pit.


Above pic shows the the thick layer of ash from a fire lying roughly 2 feet below the surface of the soil.

Below is the one single cathedral bottle that I could salvage in tact from the fire pit. The yellow crockware plate just barely visible below the bottle was eventually recovered but not all the pieces were found. I kept what I could find and hope to rebuild what I have.


To be continued…….

THE CHINQUAPIN RANGERS by John Kincheloe (photo credit by John Kincheloe and Keith Pearson)



The Chinquapin Rangers were a cavalry company of partisan rangers formed under the Partizan Ranger Act, which was passed by the Confederate Congress on April 21, 1862. The Company was formed by Captain William Gardner Brawner in May of 1862 at Buckhall in Prince William County, Virginia. The Confederate Army had just recently vacated the area and it was left undefended at that time. Clearly, this unit was formed at least in part to fill that void. Their more formal name was the “Prince William Partisan Rangers” or just the “Prince William Rangers”. When Confederate companies of troops were formed, the men elected their officers by popular vote. The Chinquapin Rangers enrolled 131 men throughout the war. Most of these men were from the Bull Run-Occoquan area of southern Fairfax County and from the north-central and eastern part of Prince William County. They were the primary local unit in and from this area.

Many local names were represented on the roster of the Chinquapin Rangers. Among the rangers there were 8 men named Davis, 7 men named Cornwell, 5 men named Kincheloe, 5 men named Mayhugh. There were 3 rangers each named Brawner, Carter, Fairfax, Hixson, Lynn, Pettit, Reid, Richardson and Tillett. There were 2 rangers each named Beach, Colbert, Cole, Crouch, King, Lowe, Marshall, Murphy, Payne, Shepherd, Spittle, Stone and Wilt.
The Chinquapin Rangers derived their name from the imagination of one of their own members, Private James E. Stone. When asked by a lady the name of his company, Stone, in a spirit of fun, told her that they were the Chinquapin Rangers. That name followed them ever after. A chinquapin is a deciduous, bushy, dwarf chestnut that grows locally and has a small edible nut.

Stone, James EIn September, 1862 they were formally mustered into the Confederate service as Company H of the 15th Virginia Cavalry. They spent their time during the War Between the States doing scouting work for J. E. B. Stuart, raiding behind the Union lines and performing spy and reconnaissance missions as an independent company. In order to ride in the Confederate cavalry you had to provide your own mount. That meant you had to either own a horse or else liberate a horse from the Yankees.

For a significant portion of the War Between the States, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad served as a major supply line for the Union Army of the Potomac on its quest to take Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy.

It appears that one of the first raids of the Chinquapin Rangers was on the afternoon of October 31, 1862 (Halloween) when they derailed a locomotive and 12 cars down the railroad tracks from Devereux Station near Bull Run Bridge. The train went 50 feet down an embankment. No casualties were sustained, but all of the approximately 100 soldiers and woodcutters were taken as prisoners. At that time, they were the only partisan ranger company in the area. John Singleton Mosby did not begin his independent partisan operations until after the Burke Station Raid in late December, 1862.

The Chinquapin Rangers were at the extreme right end of General Lee’s line at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862 helping to guard the Confederate right flank. They were with General W. H. F. “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry brigade. To their left, was the Bowling Green Road and Hamilton’s Crossing on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. To their right, was the Rappahannock River. They were in the woods, ravines and gorges in the plain with Massaponax Creek to their rear. Nearby, Major John Pelham of Stuart’s Horse Artillery fired down the Union line on the Union Army’s left flank. Firing and moving several times, Pelham disrupted and provoked the Yankees. He then retired back to the Confederate lines. Elements of the Union Iron Brigade and infantry and artillery of General Abner Doubleday’s Division produced an immediate response. It seems Company H received part of that response. Seven men of their Company were captured. Private George W. Wilt was so severely wounded by a shell that he had to have his left leg amputated. The Chinquapin Rangers sustained some of the only casualties that the Confederate Cavalry had that day. The Union assault at Fredericksburg was delayed and Union forces were tied up by this action. On that day, Major John Pelham of Stuart’s Horse Artillery earned the sobriquet “The Gallant Pelham” from General Robert E. Lee.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Chinquapin Rangers participated in the Burke Station “Christmas Raid” with 1,800 men of Stuart’s cavalry. In this raid, Stuart took his forces well behind the bulk of Burnside’s Union Army between its encampment and the United States Capitol. On that raid, J. E. B. Stuart sent his famous telegram from Burke Station to Union Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs complaining of the poor quality of the mules he had just captured; saying that those mules seriously interfered with the movement of the captured wagons. The Confederates had surprised the Union telegraph operator, capturing him before he could get off an alarm message. They then listened to some Union communications before sending their own telegram. After they sent their humorous telegram to Meigs, they cut the telegraph wires to disrupt further communications and to aid them in their escape. It was just after the Burke Station Raid that Stuart detailed John S. Mosby with his first independent command in Northern Virginia.
Captain Brawner and the Chinquapin Rangers were at Rector’s Crossroads in Fauquier County when Mosby formed his first company, Company A of what would become the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, on June 10, 1863. After Mosby formed Company A there, the Chinquapin Rangers rode with Mosby and crossed the Potomac River with him attacking a camp of the 6th Michigan Cavalry at Seneca Mills, Maryland on June 11, 1863. It was there that Captain Brawner was killed while gallantly leading the charge. The attached tribute written shortly after Captain Brawner’s death seems to eloquently say it all. Their mission was a success. They routed the Yankees and destroyed their camp before they retired back across the Potomac River with seventeen Federal prisoners and twenty-three captured horses. It could be said that they were the first Confederate soldiers across the Potomac River during the Gettysburg Campaign. After Captain Brawner’s death, First Lieutenant James Cornelius Kincheloe took command of the Company.

james-cornelius-kincheloe-capt-420818[1]Captain James C. Kincheloe

Throughout 1863 and 1864 the Chinquapin Rangers conducted various raiding operations primarily along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad between Prince William County and Accotink in Fairfax County. Raiding in this area pitted them against Corcoran’s Irish Legion, which was stationed at Union Mills to guard the Bull Run Bridge and the railroad. Later, the 4th Delaware Infantry was placed there to guard the railroad. Throughout the War, various other units were stationed up and down the railroad to guard it. As partisan rangers the Chinquapin Rangers operated in their local area, which was part of Union occupied Virginia. Their territory of activity was mostly east and south of Mosby’s Confederacy and only partially overlapped it.

During the war, the Chinquapin Rangers operated within or alongside the Confederate spy and underground communications network. They had contact with Captain Frank Stringfellow, the famous Confederate spy. While riding as part of Mosby’s Rangers near the end of the war these men had contact with Thomas F. Harney of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau. Harney has been described as an “expert in the use of explosives”, also as an “explosives wizard”. Harney was captured shortly after the engagement at Arundel’s Tavern, which occurred the day after Lee surrendered. Some authors suspect Harney was being transported toward Washington, D. C. as part of a covert action team that was going to attempt to blow up the Union War Department and White House and kidnap President Lincoln. Some authors suspect this was authorized and funded by the Confederate Government. I believe that if this were true, the individual rangers themselves would have been merely pawns in this process. My guess is that their mission, if any, would have been to shepherd and funnel the perpetrators into and out of Washington. Speculation about this has made for some interesting print. After Lee surrendered and Lincoln was assassinated public opinion shifted in large part toward reconciliation. Certainly at the end of the war, if anyone had been involved, they would have put as much distance as they could between such a plot and themselves. Their necks would have depended on it!

The Chinquapin Rangers captured Union Major Willard, the fiancé of Confederate spy Antonia Ford, while they were travelling from Fairfax to Washington. Given the choice of letting the romantically inclined couple go or sending Major Willard off to a dreary prisoner of war camp, their guard, Corporal Lewis Woodyard, chose to let them go. Antonia Ford and Major Willard were later married. Many years later, their son, Joseph E. Willard, a one time Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and an Ambassador to Spain, gave Lewis Woodyard a fine gray saddle horse to thank him for his good deed and for his compassion.

One mission they undertook was to personally pick up and deliver a pair of gold spurs sent from Prince George’s County, Maryland admirers to General Robert E. Lee. The gold spurs passed through to Miss Elizabeth Frobel, who brought the spurs to the William S. Reid farm on Franconia Road in Fairfax County. With thousands of Union troops nearby, the gold spurs were picked up and transported by Chinquapin Rangers to General Lee, who received them while he was at a general review of his army near Culpeper Courthouse.

The Chinquapin Rangers participated in the Sangster’s Station Raid with 800-1,000 men primarily belonging to units that would comprise what is known to history as the Laurel Brigade. Because they were local men they served in part as guides through the area. The raiding party rode and struck behind General Meade’s army. This raid began at Hamilton’s Crossing, south of Fredericksburg, on December 16, 1863. The brigade marched to Fredericksburg and crossed the Rappahannock at low tide about twilight. “The fording was deep and some of the men had to swim their horses….About midnight the column halted and rested until morning, when the march was resumed. Rain now set in, at first a drizzle and then a downpour, drenching the men, swelling the streams, and making the roads sloppy and muddy….All day long through the continuous rain, the men, wet to the skin, pushed on through mud and mire.” Moving rapidly, they crossed rain swollen Occoquan at Wolf Run Shoals. In a rare winter thunderstorm, with rain, loud bursts of thunder and lightening they attacked and captured a Union stockade fort at Sangster’s Station in Fairfax County on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. After attending to the dead and wounded, the brigade left with a captured silver bugle and a captured Union regimental flag. Exhausted men and fatigued horses continued the march all night through drenching rain which turned to sleet that benumbed bodies and froze garments. “At sunrise Upperville was reached, and a halt was made to have breakfast and to feed the horses. Here some of the men had to be lifted from their horses, being stiff with cold and their clothing frozen to the saddles. After an hour’s respite the weary march was resumed.” They crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains at Ashby’s Gap and moved along the right bank of the Shenandoah River to Front Royal. “At last when Front Royal was reached there was a halt, and the men went into camp for the first time in forty eight hours, having marched in thirty-six hours more than ninety miles.” The next day they went to Luray. On December 20th, they joined General Early at Mt. Jackson. Not only were men killed and wounded, but other men had drowned crossing the fords in the cold, high water. The Sangster’s Station raid was “….an expedition attended not only with some hard fighting but with a great deal of suffering, the horrors of which made a lasting impression upon every soldier who participated in it.”
Shortly before the Sangster’s Station raid, on November 25, 1863, approximately 25 Chinquapin Rangers conducted a raid at Devereux Station. They captured about 50 mules and 23 men without firing a shot. Immediately following this raid a number of non-combatant citizens were arrested including my great-great grandfather, John Kincheloe, who was arrested November 27, 1863. The 66 year old citizen-farmer spent 5 months in prison as a political prisoner before his release from Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D. C. on May 10, 1864. Forty-nine of the 131 men of the Chinquapin Rangers were captured by the Yankees throughout the war. Some of the captured Chinquapin Rangers along with Mosby’s Raiders and White’s Raiders were considered so dangerous they were moved from Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D. C. to Ft. Warren in Boston Harbor. This was done to isolate them and make any escape harder. They were handcuffed in pairs and transported in a very well guarded special train to New York City. Then, in front of a large crowd, they had to walk through the streets to switch trains to go to Boston. On that walk, Mosby’s Sergeant Alexander G. Babcock spotted the well known editor, Horace Greeley. Babcock lifted his cuffed arm and yelled out to Greeley, “How are you Horace? What do you think of such treatment of prisoners of war?” Rangers George Henry Bradfield and Alexander Colbert died while at Point Lookout Prison. John Colbert and John F. Fairfax died at Fort Delaware P. O. W. Camp. When the War was over, Samuel Cornelius Beach, Thomas Beach, William Edward Carter, George Cornwell, John L. Cornwell and John Peter Davis were released from Fort Warren Prison. William Edward Lipscomb was released at the end of the War from Point Lookout. At the end of the War, Sergeant Samuel H. Jones, Nestor Kincheloe, Armstead T. Marshall, John T. Marshall, John Mayhugh, John Slingerland and George W. Tillett were released from Fort Delaware. At the end of the War, Mountville M. Cornwell, George T. Pettit, William F. Renoe, William H. Smoot and James Wiley were released from Old Capitol Prison.

In 1864, the Confederate Government, in an attempt to rein in some of the mischievous acts of certain partisan rangers, decided to do away with all of those units except Mosby’s partisans and McNeil’s partisans. The Chinquapin Rangers refused to follow orders from the Confederate Government to join the regular cavalry. On September 6, 1864 they were ordered to report to General Fitzhugh Lee in the Shenandoah Valley. Again, they did not comply. They had enlisted as partisan rangers and not as regular soldiers. The Confederate government ordered the company disbanded. They continued to operate locally, as they had done before, until they were finally disbanded on their own accord on December 4, 1864.An attempt to reorganize themselves was officially denied. Against government policy and general orders to the contrary and with full notice of the situation, Mosby bent the rules and enrolled a significant number of the Chinquapin Rangers into his command. Coincidentally, they continued to be Company H. They had been Company H of the 15th Virginia Cavalry. Now they were in Company H of Mosby’s 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry. Mosby chose to take these men into his command because they were local men he knew who had ridden with him before. They were well equipped, well armed, willing, seasoned soldiers who wanted to continue the fight and wanted to defend their home territory. To continue his operations so far behind the lines Mosby needed all of the able bodied local soldiers available. Clearly, he did not want to turn them away or lose them to the general service, where they had been ordered to go.

With Mosby, they were formally made Company H at North Fork in Loudoun County on April 5, 1865. They then rode under their new Captain, Captain George Baylor, and went first to Keyes Switch on the Shenandoah River. There they attacked a camp of the Loudoun Rangers and completely defeated them not far from Halltown, West Virginia. Five or six Federals were killed, forty-five prisoners were captured, seventy horses were taken as well as a number of arms and a lot of equipment. Their last engagement was with the 8th Illinois Cavalry in Fairfax County at Arundel’s Tavern, now known as Brimstone Hill, on April 10, 1865. This occurred one day after General Robert E. Lee surrendered. It was the last engagement of the War Between the States in Virginia. The last casualties of the War in Virginia occurred during this fight.

On April 21, 1865, Colonel Mosby disbanded his command in preference to surrendering them as a unit. The men then sought out their own individual paroles with the Union.

These men fought to the bitter end of a lost cause. They could be considered the last terrorists in Northern Virginia until September 11, 2001. These men were freedom fighters. During the War Between the States, they had fought alongside and against well known people and fighting units. After the War, the Chinquapin Rangers continued to have impact for many years. These partisan rangers, who were considered by some during the war to be featherbed soldiers, road agents and bushwhackers, rose to the occasion becoming in some cases very successful and prominent. The individual rangers, of course, represented a cross section of the community. Not all of the rangers were well read. Twenty-four of them when signing their oaths, paroles and various papers signed with “X” or with marks rather than signatures. Despite this fact an inordinate number of them became leading citizens. Lieutenant Edwin Nelson had been a guide for General Stuart on the Christmas Raid. He was captured on June 21, 1863 while on leave of absence and had been a prisoner of war for most of the balance of the War. Before the War, he had been a constable, Justice of the Peace for Dumfries District (which then also embraced the territory of Coles District) and had been a Deputy Sheriff. In 1878-1879 he represented Prince William in the Virginia House of Delegates. From 1870 to 1887 he was a Deputy Clerk of Court and served as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Prince William from 1887 until his death on February 12, 1911. After Nelson’s death, he was succeeded as Clerk of Court by another Chinquapin Ranger, William E. Lipscomb. Lipscomb served only one month as Clerk of Court until his death. Lipscomb, who would later be a long-serving Judge of the County Court had been captured in 1864 and spent the rest of the War as a prisoner. Judge Lipscomb was a lawyer, Commissioner in Chancery, two-term Mayor of Manassas, several-term member of the Town Council, mercantile businessman, Deputy Clerk of Court under his father, a publisher of the Manassas Gazette and Bail Commissioner. In 1884, Judge Lipscomb was elected to the Virginia Legislature. Another ranger that served in the Virginia Legislature from 1887-1888 was Sergeant Joseph B. Reid. Reid served on the first Manassas Town Council. He owned the Summit House Hotel and bar room in Brentsville. William B. Lynn was a bartender. William Randolph Spittle was a contractor and builder. James Shirley Lynn was a Baptist minister and did missionary work. Sergeant John Henry Butler was Commissioner of the Revenue “above the run” in Prince William County. James Monroe Barbee was Commissioner of the Revenue “below the run” and served as Sheriff of Prince William County. Robert Arrington, who spent a large part of the War as a P. O. W., was Postmaster of Bellefair Mills, Virginia which is just north of the Stafford County line. John Slingerland was a foreman at the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine off of Quantico Creek in what is now Prince William Forest Park. The Cabin Branch Mine was a large base for the economy of the Dumfries area for thirty-one years. The common sulfide mineral pyrite, called iron pyrite or fool’s gold in its pure form is 46.6% iron and 53.4% sulfur. Pyrite, upon being heated, is a major source for the production of sulfuric acid which is an important ingredient of gunpowder and has many other industrial uses. George William Payne worked for about thirty-five years for the Richmond and Danville railroad before he retired and returned to Manassas where he conducted a hotel until his health began to fail. Corporal Charles E. Butler was a carpenter. Lafayette Maddox was a carpenter and a cooper. Elias Crouch, Joseph Crouch, George M. Pettit, Wyleman W. Chappell John H. Renoe, Henry A. Keyes, Wesley Ledman, George W. Lowe, Joseph Mayhugh, Jackson Payne, Marshall A. Carter, John Colbert (died June 21, 1865-P. O. W. Fort Delaware), William H. Wilt (Witt, died March 27, 1863) and Lewis Spittle were coopers. George W. Davis, Sergeant Roy L. Davis, Corporal Levi Hixson, Benjamin Murphy, John L. Reid, Samuel R. Lowe, Armstead Marshall, William D. Davis, Isaac N. Fairfax, Corporal Lewis Woodyard, Edward Shepherd (died March 21, 1863), Joseph B. Shepherd, John Mayhugh, Richard H. Brawner and Robert W. Wilkins were farmers. John L. French inspected cars for the railroad. William H. Smoot was a retail merchant. Sergeant Samuel Houston Jones was a farmer and merchant in Stafford County. Nestor Kincheloe owned the mill at the confluence of Cub Run and Big Rocky Run near Centreville. The mill complex has been variously known over the years as Lane’s Mill, Kincheloe’s Mill and Robinson’s Mill. Mark A. Florence, John L. Cornwell, Leroy Cornwell, Richard H. Cornwell and Alexander Pettit were farm laborers. Lieutenant Wileman Wallace Kincheloe ran Kincheloe’s Store in Brentsville and served as Treasurer of Prince William County. Corporal George W. Hixson was on the first Manassas Town Council. He was also a merchant, lumberman, wagon maker and undertaker. James V. Nash was a farm overseer and served on the Commission that brought the first Courthouse to Manassas. Thomas Fairfax was a businessman in Alexandria. Thomas Stone was a wheelwright. George H. Richardson was a merchant and hotel keeper. Lieutenant Francis C. Davis served as a Justice of the Fairfax County Court from 1852-1860 and again from 1866 through 1868. Davis was a farmer, served as Overseer of the Poor in 1845 and served as an early member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. James E. Stone was also a farmer and served as Overseer of the Poor in Fairfax County. Sergeant William Simpson Kincheloe, a farmer that had been a guide on the Sangster’s Station Raid, served as Deputy Treasurer and later as Deputy Sheriff of Fairfax County.

imagesCAVU7Q5G(Sgt. William Simpson Kincheloe)

Wallace Norman Tansill was a carpenter and was for thirty years a policeman in Fredericksburg. George William Tillett was a stone mason, mechanic and farmer. Henry T. Tillett was a painter and stone mason. John R. Tillett was a leading Manassas businessman, bridge builder and stone contractor. He built the forty foot high Confederate Monument in the Manassas Cemetery, just a short distance from the present day Prince William County Courthouse. Edward Dorsey Cole was detailed for much of the War as a scout and courier for J. E. B. Stuart. After Stuart’s death at Yellow Tavern, Cole was a scout and courier for Robert E. Lee during the fighting around Gaines Mill. Cole then returned to his company, ending the War with Company H of Mosby’s command. Cole became a prosperous merchant, was a long-serving member of the Fredericksburg City Council, was Recorder of Fredericksburg, was on the staff of the Governor of Virginia, was a charter member of the Fredericksburg and Adjacent National Battlefields Memorial Park Association of Virginia, served on the Advisory Board for the erection of the Mary Washington Monument and was appointed to be in charge of the Mary Washington Monument and Park. Sergeant John H. Hammill was a retail merchant in Occoquan. According to his obituary, he was able to get back into business after the War because he retrieved silver he had buried when the War had begun. During the War, he had contracted typhoid fever. Mrs. Adeline Wilkins Lynn, sister of another Chinquapin Ranger housed and cared for him during his illness. When the Yankees searched her house, he played dead, avoided capture and was able to recover in a home rather than possibly expiring in a Union Prison. Redmond Sefrada Kincheloe was a merchant in Warrenton before moving to Wheeling, West Virginia. George Washington Wilt, who had his left leg amputated after the Battle of Fredericksburg, returned to the Confederate Service with Company H. He was paroled May 11, 1865 at Winchester. Wilt married the following summer. He lived to be 76 years old. When he died, October 30, 1912, he was a resident of Church Hill in Richmond and was survived by his wife and 8 children. Wilt is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. Captain James C. Kincheloe, who had been a Postmaster of Sangster’s Station and was a farmer, resumed farming south of Clifton after the War. His wife, Susan Texanna Richerson (Richardson) Kincheloe’s obituary in 1928 states that her husband always said she was the best capture he made during his career in the Confederate service. They were married February 8, 1866 at her Mother’s home in Caroline County. Lewis Young lived to be 89 years old, spending his final years at the Robert E. Lee Camp Soldier’s Home, Richmond, Virginia. He died there May 9, 1936 and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

The Chinquapin Rangers had served the Confederacy in a unique way, defending their home area, even as it was decimated during a bitter civil war. These men picked up the pieces and resumed fruitful and productive careers.


Private Wellington Fairfax, Co. H 15th VA Cav. After the war ended, he married Vienna P. Davis. He and his wife lived on a farm at Wolf Run Shoals. The house still stands today, the last one on the left at the end of Wolf Run Shoals Road. Wellington is buried in the Fairfax family cemetery north of the house.

colt and remington 15th va cav J.E.StonePrivate Jim Stone’s Colt and Remington pistols that he used as a Ranger during the war.

John T. Kincheloe
August 15, 2012

A Week of Relics Nov 2012

Evidence of troop movements or troops attaining a position to engage an enemy. Large chuncks of iron shells and canon balls fired from the opposing side during the civil war- most likely confederate- intended possibly to deter columns of union soldiers advancing on confederate lines just prior to the start of The first major battle of the Civil War.  Pictured here are pieces of 10 lb parrot and 12 lb boreman ball. The ground was litered with pieces of shell frags and lead bullet shrapnel, sometimes used inside the shells, indicate that the area must have been pretty significant.


DIGGIN IN VA # 22 Nov 16, 17 ,18

An excellent opportunity to hunt Brandy Station the site of the largest Cavalry battle in the Western Hemisphere. On this particualr occaison we were granted access to Beauregard Farm a 5,000 acre tract of land just north of Culpeper. Thousands of soldiers from both sides occupied the area and several battles were faught here. Over the years since war the area returned to a farming community. Many of the artifacts have been recovered by souvenir hunters, land owners, and of course relic hunters specifically looking for relics of that period. Agricultural practices intended to produce more crops using synthetic fertilizers and heavy machines have also taken their tol on the relics that remain. Nonetheless pieces do remain and opportunities to recover any remaining pieces do exist.
Below are some of those artifacts I was able to obtain scattered by the plow.

DIV #22 Brandy Station

Pictured above: Breast Plate with Eagle motif most likely U.S. Some general service uniform buttons, brass knapsack hooks and pieces, a variety of lead dropped bullets, an iron gun tool, a shenckl shell frag and a large piece of canister grape shot, an 1863 Indian Head Penny and a brass belt adjuster. There were quite a bit of relics found over the thre day hunt including some soldier ID items cannon ball, sword and lots of bottles plus much more. All pieces are documneted.

Civil War Iron

I was invited to tag along with a couple of relic hunters t look for herps while they searched for Civil War Relics. The previous day they had done very well finding 3 twelve pound solid shots and one 10 lb parrot shell. So needless to say they were chomping at the bit to get back out and find more. Finding these many relics especially in tact artillery rounds is not as common as it was perhaps 40 years ago. It might hav esomething to do with the fact these were lying at the bottom of a stream and the were overlooked by land hunters. So we made our way by means of ATV’s to the site. We all geared up they had their detectors and I had my snake hook, two camaeras, back pack full of field junk, and a monopod. We entered the wate and began to navigate upstream. the water level was low and clear and the bottom hard and relatively sediment free. This made it easy to spot things lying on the bottom. Schools of various fish darted by. Some were recognizable species others were not. there were large mout and small mout bass, blue gills and otehr sunfishes, northern hogsuckers to name a few. I did find a dead otter later on. Anyway by this time (we had been in the water for about 30 minutes) and I had managed to venture about 50 yards of the others when I heard one of the guys call to me and say he had just found an artillery shell. He also made it a point to tell me that he had eyeballed it and that I had walked right past it. He called me over to show me and sure enought there it was. A 10 lb parrot shell lying in perfect view on the stream bottom.

Civil War 10 lb Parrot Shell

Well the discovery of this lead to a frenzied search for more pieces and other relics but to no avail. We continued on for the next couple of hours. I was able to find a few heprs along the way and got some really cool footage of a musk turtle

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odaratus)

the excitement was wearing off and after a long period of fnding nothing we headed back to our insertion point whic hwas about where they had found their mother load of artillery shells and cannon balls on the previous days hunt. the water was a litle deeper here and the bottm I discovered was somewhat more slippery as I soon found ut losing my footing and sliding down onto my back. My head was slowly going under as I struggle dto keep my Nikon SLR above water wit hone free hand. Just as I was about to go totally under one of the guys rescued the camera allowing me to focus on getting myself upright again. I was happy I didnt get my $2,000.00 rig wet but hen soon realized thatmy $650.00 cell phon and wallet were in my back pack that did get submerged. Now wet all over and the possibility of having to buy a new phone did not make me a happy camper. So when we finally reached the area where winserted the stream and where they found their relics the day before I stopped and asked to give me shot (no pun intended ) at findig me a cannon ball. For some reason I had this uncanny feeling that I was going to find one in their hunted out site and I justified this feeling because I deserved it after taking a spill just a few minuted earlier. The guys ensured me that the place was vaccummed but I had to try I just knew there was anotr one in there with my name on it. So they offered me a machine I went t owork. 5 minuted into the search I get a huge sounding signal that overloaded the audio tones on the detector. I flet the bottom from where the target was detects knowing that it just had to be a shell or something equivalnet. The sensation of a solid round object under by foot pastially burried n silt (this area did have a silty bottom but wasnt exactly a thick layer) didnt take me long to reach down with my hand and pull up a nice 12 lb solid shot cannon ball! I was elated and the others were in sort of disbelief. I could have kept searching but not wanting to be greedy I gave the otehr guy the detector back andtold him that he may want to try where I was and see if he could find one. Sure enough he scored with another 12 pounder. A great day for all of us each walking out a cool piece of history!!
Civil War 12 lb Solid Shot