Remembrances of Cedar Mountain (Part 2):

The Battle of Cedar Mountain began on August 9, 1862 with an assault by Gen. Nathaniel Banks on Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s Confederate forces. The arrival of Gen. A. P. Hill’s troops bolstered the Confederates and earned them a narrow victory. Each side sustained casualties in the thousands and a truce was called on August 11 in large part to bury the dead.

David H. Strother was a Martinsburg, Virginia native who had tried to remain neutral at the outbreak of war, but had eventually sided with the Union, joining the U.S. Army as a civilian topographer. He was a member of Gen. John Pope’s staff at the time of Cedar Mountain. Strother wrote about the scene inside the Nalle house where Pope made his headquarters:

The house had been the home of plenty and refinement. It was now a hospital and the handsome shaded enclosure about it was covered with dead and wounded, while the interior was more like a butcher’s shambles than a gentleman’s dwelling. Beside the piano stood the amputating table. Rich carpets hurriedly bundled into corners were replaced by bloody blankets and sheets. The furniture not removed was dabbled with blood and cases of amputating instruments lay upon the tables and mantelpieces lately dedicated to elegant books and flowers. In the yard soaked stretchers and mattresses contained the worst cases of the wounded, some of whom died as they lay waiting for the surgeon. The lighter cases had a knapsack for a pillow and an armful of hay for a bed. Blood, carnage, and death among the sweet shrubbery and roses. Captain Nalle’s wife and daughters were more than flower nurses, for when the wounded men were brought in they tore sheets and garments of linen for bandages and with womanly hearts lent assistance to the sufferers.

(The Nalle home was known as “Val Verde” and was owned by Thomas B. Nalle who had been a purser in the United States Navy. He was married to Columbiana Major.)

Men awaiting help on the field tried to find protection from the blistering sun. Strother wrote of a soldier who had built himself a shelter of cornstalks, then died beneath it. Strother praised the “stoic patience” of the wounded as “astonishing”.

“Cloverdale”, belonging to the Crittenden family, was another home caught up in the battle. Years later, Sallie Rout Petty would relate the war time history of the home. She was in a position to know, her husband was William Crittenden Petty who had been born at Cloverdale and who, as a teenager, was a member of the 4th Virginia Cavalry. Mrs. Petty, a county schoolteacher, passed along the history she had heard from her husband and her in-laws. Mrs. Petty related the Crittenden ladies’ experiences during the battle to a UDC meeting in 1915:

The Crittenden home was used as a hospital, and the lawn, it being a hot summer day, was literally covered with the wounded and dying.

Our J. William Jones, chaplain and historian of the Southern Army, assisted by Miss Anna Crittenden (afterwards Mrs. Major Smoot), a daughter of the house, ministered to those poor soldiers as they lay dying on the ground under the shade of the grand old trees of this Virginia homestead. Long after the war, in speaking of the service he rendered there, Dr. Jones told me he would never forget this beautiful girl, dressed in white and followed by a servant bearing a basket of wine and bread, etc., as she bent over those poor wounded men, not shrinking from the sight, but helping and cheering all she could.

During the battle, Mrs. Crittenden and her servants occupied the cellar under the house, but did not retire to that place of safety until a shell had entered the room where she and her daughter, the same Anna, were seated, and after coming through one wall, and striking the window facing in the other, rebounded to the hearth and went out without exploding. Miss Anna Crittenden waved a sheet from one of the upper windows of the house to the Confederate soldiers, until an officer rode up and told her to stop and go into the cellar, or the house would be torn to pieces by shells.