Scrapbook Memories

Mildred McConnell's Scrapbook Articles

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Marauders Paid Ultimate Price For Their Crimes

With marauders and thieves roaming the South in search of food and supplies during the last year of the Civil War, the women and older men of Scott County were forced to take up arms to defend their homes.

The result - a mass grave for the marauders in Big Moccasin.

With wooden clubs and stoic determination, the women turned back the thieves, who had been forced to pillage the countryside by the changing fortunes of the war.

The American Civil War had dragged on for three years and the tide had begun to turn against the South. They had lost the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863). One day later they lost the Battle of Vicksburg, which had been under siege from May 17 to July 4, 1863.

The fall of Vicksburg deprived the Confederacy of the use of the Mississippi River. The trans- Mississippi Department had come to be the principal sources from which horses, cattle, swine and other supplies were obtained for the Southern armies. On July 9, 1863, the South lost the Port of Hudson, Louisiana; from this date communication between the states east and west of the Mississippi River were cut.

President Lincoln had proclaimed a blockade of the Confederate States on April 19, 1861 which eventually reached from Virginia to Texas, thus stopping the export of farm products from the Southern States and the import of foreign goods.

The Confederate Congress on March 26, 1863 passed the Impressments tax which was a tax on goods and services. This included the tithe tax on agricultural products and livestock. This was an income tax on the farmers and planters, which was paid in produce and live or slaughtered animals. It was by this tax that the Confederate armies were, to the large extent, fed during the last year or so of the war.

As the spring of 1864 approached, supplies in the South became very scarce and the people began to suffer from hunger and for the want of clothing and shoes.

Marauders had begun to roam the South. Some of them, under the pretense of collecting supplies for the Confederacy.

Scott County had itís share of these marauders and in the Spring of 1864 a group of them began to raid and pillage in Moccasin Valley on mostly women and old men.  The Confederate Congress had passed the Conscription Act, Feb. 17, 1864 which required all men, 17 to 50, to serve in the Army.

The last week in April 1864 was beautiful.  The grass had turned green, spring flowers were blooming, the birds were nesting and the people in Moccasin Valley had begun to get their land ready for planting.

One day in mid-afternoon, the marauders came up the valley taking everything they could carry away; but, little did they know that they were to reckon with the women in the valley. They crossed Big Moccasin Creek late in the afternoon and made camp on the east side of the creek. There they cooked their supper of stolen provisions, feeling secure, they did not post a guard for the night; they opened their bedrolls and retired for the night. A heavy fog had formed in the valley along the creek and all that could be heard that night along the creek banks was the croaking of the bullfrogs and shrill piping of the spring peepers.

As the last quarter of the moon began to rise over Clinch Mountain, the women began to make their move. They went some distance down the creek and crossed to the east side and up the creek to where the marauders were sleeping.

Stealthily and silently they began to execute their plan of attack. Each woman carried a large hickory maul. The women were in pairs; they were to pick out a man and hit him in the head with their mauls and beat him until he was dead.

After the massacre, the women recovered their stolen property and that of others which included guns, knives, jewelry and other valuable items. Also the horses of the marauders, which they would need for farm work.

The next day, a common grave was dug and the women with the help of the old men, carried and dragged them to the cemetery. They are buried in the Osborne Cemetery, a short distance from where they met their doom.

Who were these men? Were they part of some Union army dressed in civilian clothes or part of Rowen Rogues who had infested Southwest Virginia?  No one knows. They are like all unknown dead -- known only to God, but without honored glory.

The Osborne Cemetery is located on the North side of Highway 613, about 12 miles east of Gate City, in Big Moccasin Valley. To find out why it is called the Osborne Cemetery, we must go back in time 162 years.

Nancy Davidson married Solomon Osborne in 1764.  Solomon was killed by the Indians in 1765.  They had one son who as born shortly after his father was killed.

Nancy Davidson Osborne married again in 1767 to Jonathan Wood.  She and her husband with her son, James, came from Loudon County in 1773 and settled near Houston's Fort.

James Osborne's wife was also named Nancy, but we do not know her maiden name.  James died November 29, 1822. His wife Nancy died July 14, 1848.  James does not have a marker to his grave and the marker on Nancy's grave is made from rough native stone.  On Nancy's marker it reads: Ded 1848, age 81 years, 6 months. It does not read died and does not give her birth date.

 

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