Gibbons/Kemper/Yancey Family Letter Series

Gibbons/Kemper/Yancey Family Letter Series

In-Page Links:

Information about this letter:

Envelope: Not available to me as the original letter is not part of my collection. I believe the original can be found in the collection of the Harrisonburg Rockingham Historical Society. A copy is also found in the library collection at James Madison University in Harrisonburg (see for more info on that copy; this letter is the first item listed).
Sender: Mary (Gibbons) Yancey [See Mary Gibbons in Guide to Individuals]
  • born 08/03/1810
  • married 05/01/1846
  • spouse William Burbridge Yancey (2nd wife)
  • died 01/10/1905
Recipient: Frances Cornelia (Gibbons) Arbogast [See Frances Gibbons in Guide to Individuals]
  • born 08/30/1833
  • married 1858
  • spouse Rev. Benjamin Arbogast
  • died 01/03/1920
Date Written: June 20th, 1862
Location: Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Rockingham County
Surnames mentioned: Ashby, Erman, Kemper, Miller, Milroy, Numan, Pence, Shields, Van Lear, Yancey
Locations mentioned: Cross Keys, Harrisonburg, Honeyville, Liggits hill, Staunton, the Vally
Jackson's Valley Campaign: Jackson's Valley Campaign took place from March of 1862 through June of 1862; the battles referred to here are most like the battle of Harrisonburg (Friday, June 6th, 1862), the battle of Cross Keys (Sunday, June 8th, 1862), and the battle of Port Republic (Monday, June 9th, 1862)

see for more information on the battle at Cross Keys.

see for more information on the battle at Port Republic.

Another good site about this series of battles can be found at

Text of the letter:

June 20th 1862

My Dear Sister,

When I wrote you from Harrisonburg I expected to leave there the next day, Mr Pence had hired a horse and I was ready to start, but before the horse came, we heard the Yankey's were very near, and in less than an hour, they were in sight. Oh I felt awfull when I saw them, they came riding in with such an air, [Hopping ?? or Hooping ??] and hollowing and in full gallop. They fired on our Pickits, just below Mr Pence's on Liggits hill, our Pickits then left, they fired at our pickits again, between Mr Pence's and town They rode back And in a short time, came pouring in by thousands wagons all encamped near Mr Pence. In the evening they went out which was Friday the evening Ashby was killed, poor Ashby I saw him pass in the morning Emily sent him a boquet. Mr Pence boarded several of the officers, They told us as soon as they returned from the fight, that Ashby was killed but we did not believe it, for not one of them told the truth, one of them told or rather Mr Pence heard them say they had been teribly cut to pieces, [Hill ?? or Will ?? or Well ??] on Saturday morning they went out again and had another Skirmish, between Harrisonburg and Cross Keys, on Sunday they made a General move, the day of the big fight, They went with there red flags on there Ambulances all ready for battle, In the morning when they left they gave us all Good By said they did not know whither they would go back down the Vally or go to Staunton, But to our joy on Tuesday about twelve Oclock, the wagons came pouring in by dozens, And in a short time hear they all come, Skadaddeling to use there own word, General Milroy called at Pences and told him, he had lost nearly all his men. Milroy told Mr Pence, the same officers that had stayed with him, would be there again that evening, About four Oclock they came, as soon as they came they asked Emily to have a bed stead put in the parlor, for a wounded Col that was coming on, of course she had to do what they said, she moved her bed stead in the parlor and put her bed on the floor we all slept on the floor, I mean Mr. Pence Emily & myself, They had more [wards ?? or wants ??] then enough, we even had to mend one fellows pants after he went to bed, some had to wash there feet, and I wish you could have heard Emily talk, [To them ?? or Then ??] they Artilery went they went as fast as they horses could go. Next morning which was Wednesday they Skadadled in A hurry, took there wounded Col with them, They had not been gone long until there was another wounded man brought there, he died about none Oclock that night, I tel you was glad we got [rit ?? or rid ??] of him so soon. They left three men to take care of him, on Thursday morning before they buried him, our Pickits came and captured the three men, I was so glad to see our men, I was in the yard when one of our Cavelry rode up and asked me if there was any Yankeys in the house. I said one dead one, Then Emily went out and told why they were there, he came in and took there arms, from them and took them prisoners, After they all left Emily had the parlor [washed ??] and the Yankey dirt cleaned up, The officers all were all very polite and gentlemanly.

The first thing the Infantry did when they came was to steal all they could lay there hands on, Mr Pence had his meat hid in the ashes in the ash box, which was in an old shed in the yard, They took all but two pieces; when an officer came along and told Mr Pence, Mr Pence then applied for a guard they placed a guard around the house, but before the guard came, They took the setting hens off of their nests and all the hens from there young chickens, What chickens she had left she left she put in the smoke house, They distroyed a great of fencing, and mowed grain for there horses tis said Dr Numan has not a pannel of fence on his farm, stold every thing from him in the way of eatables, burnt good deal of Mr Pence's fence I cant begin to tell you what they did do, On Sunday the day of the fight at the Cross Keys Mrs Kemper left home, the balls fell so near the house they were afraid to remain in the house, they went to Mr Ermans, when they returned in the evening they found every thing distroyed and carried off, all they bed clothes of all kinds sheets pillow cases table cloths all they dishes knives and forks, tore up the girls bonnets tore up the fly [bush ?? or brush ??], took all there good clothes all there shawls Mags fine cloak, Mags watch in the excitement she forgot her watch, distroyed every thing in the store, even took there under clothes, did not take the feather beds, When they came home Mag found a sick Yankey on her bed, some of the Neighbors sent them some bread and butter for there supper and they even stole that, before they left that evening, Mr Van Lear shared the same fate, I cant tel you half there meanness; As soon as I thought it safe for me to leave Mr Pence got a horse and Buggy, Friday morning and went to Mrs Kemper's in the morning. Emily stayed there, Mr Pence brought me home that evening, returned the next day, Fannie went up with Mr Pence, she had not heard of her Mothers loss until I told her, Mrs Kemper seemed to bear it pretty well, We called at Ed's they had put 14 wounded Yankeys there I saw some of them, I have no sympathy for any of them, did not trouble any thing at Ed's, They would have done more if they had had time, Dont you remember an old house that stood this side of the Union Church they filled that with dead and burnt it down I saw some of the [bones?? or homes??], a good many [men ?? or more??] [than?? or there??] when we passed looking at the place, Mag gave me a Cannon ball, I was sorry I was not at home, to have seen the race, I suppose Fannie gave you the particulars of thire ritreat, They talked very large about whipping Jackson on thire way up, but on thire retreat they had to admit that they were whiped, Destroyed a good deal of wheat fought in the wheat fields we only went over a part of the battle ground the road was so bad it was almost impossable to get along. Mr Miller was not damaged at all, Shields intended going up on this side of the river, but when he got to the river; Jackson had just had the Bridge  the river was high  burned, We think Jackson is the greatest man living, I saw the three thousands prisoners pass through Harrisonburg, that he captured in the Vally, I wrote to you all about the wounded Georgians, we had at Mr Pences, they would have kept them until they recovered, but had to move them before the Yankeys came, Why dont you write and tel me if you got that letter, and if you have been geting my letters, Robert was here this morning is going for Fannie this evening she will come home tomorrow, All are well I was up home, stayed one night while Fannie was gone, Bob expects to harvest next week, . We are very thankful that we fared as well as we did when the Yankeys were here, we dread them if they should get in the Vally again, They destroyed every thing in Ed Yanceys home, even got Fans spoons, and a great many persons lost heavily, a great many persons were pointed out to them by the Union folks, heard they distroyed every thing about Honeyville, And if Jackson had not made them Skadaddle in such a hurry they would have done a great deal worse, But I tel you [tis?? or tiy?? or tey??] left in double quick, love to all  Your sister


Key to individuals mentioned in this letter:

Off-Page Links:

Visit RootsWeb

Visitors since 01/10/2005
This page was last modified: Wednesday, 12-Sep-2018 14:28:44 MDT

This site created, designed and maintained by Mary D. Taffet