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Dayton in Rockingham County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Death of Lt. Meigs
Deadly Encounter

— 1864 Valley Campaigns —
 
Death of Lt. Meigs marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2008
1. Death of Lt. Meigs marker
 
Inscription. Here on the old Swift Run Gap Road on the evening of October 3, 1864, Union Lt. John Rodgers Meigs was killed in a fight with three Confederate scouts guided by local resident Pvt. Benjamin F. “Frank” Shaver, 1st Virginia Cavalry. Meigs, of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan’s staff, and two orderlies encountered the Confederates, who had entered Union lines that morning to observe the dispositions of Sheridan’s army camped around Harrisonburg. A firefight ensued and Meigs wounded a scout, but the others returned fire and killed Meigs. His body was recovered the next morning. One of the orderlies reported to Sheridan that civilian “bushwhackers” had murdered Meigs. (Because of a drizzling rain, the scouts had worn “rubber raincoats” over their uniforms.) Sheridan retaliated, ordering that buildings over a large area, including the town of Dayton, be burned to the ground. He soon rescinded the order concerning Dayton, but thirty other dwellings were destroyed in what came to be known as the “Burnt District.” Sheridan justified his actions by asserting, “Since I came into the Valley, from Harpers Ferry up to Harrisonburg, every train, every small party, and every straggler has been bushwhacked by people.” In this case he was wrong, and innocent people paid the price.

(Upper Right
 
Meigs Historic Site Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2008
2. Meigs Historic Site
 
Sidebar):

John Rodgers Meigs was a member of a distinguished family, the eldest son of Montgomery C. Meigs, quartermaster general of the U.S Army. Young Meigs graduated first in the West Point class of 1863 and became a highly regarded staff engineer before joining Sheridan. After his death, be received posthumous promotion to the rank of major, and his body was transported to Mrs. Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House, then under Gen. Meigs’s jurisdiction. The general buried his son in Plot 1, Grave 1, in Mrs. Lee’s rose garden.

(Lower Right Sidebar):
This site is one of many in the Shenandoah Valley interpreted largely because of the efforts of John L. Heatwole, a renowned Valley historian, woodcarver, sculptor, and folklorist. His two books (Shenandoah Voices: Folklore, Legends and Traditions of the Valley and The Burning: Sheridan’s Devastation of the Shenandoah Valley), his contributions to the Virginia Civil War Trails program, and his work on the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District Commission have brought the stories of this region to life for Valley residents and visitors alike.
 
Erected 2007 by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 
 
Swift Run Gap Road trace Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2008
3. Swift Run Gap Road trace
 
25.441′ N, 78° 55.32′ W. Marker is in Dayton, Virginia, in Rockingham County. Marker is on Meigs Lane 0.1 miles east of John Wayland Highway (Virginia Route 42), on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dayton VA 22821, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Death of Lt. Meigs (here, next to this marker); Site Where Lt. John Rodgers Meigs Was Killed (a few steps from this marker); Fort Harrison (approx. 0.9 miles away); Shenandoah College and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (approx. one mile away); Lt. Col. Thomas F. Wildes (approx. one mile away); Daniel Bowman Mill at Silver Lake (approx. one mile away); First Church in Rockingham County (approx. 1.1 miles away); Dayton (approx. 1.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Dayton.
 
More about this marker. In the upper center is a portrait of Benjamin F. “Frank” Shaver who remained vigilant for years after the war because Gen. Meigs had put a price on the “bushwhacker’s” head. – Courtesy of John L. Heatwole In the Upper center is a sketch with caption, titled Death of Meigs, by James E Taylor - Courtesy Western Reserve Historical Society.

The upper-right sidebar has a photo of John Rogers Meigs as a cadet - Courtesy Library of Congress. The Lower right sidebar has a portrait of John L. Heatwole
 
Also see . . .
1. John Rodgers Meigs. Meigs is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The site also provides an account of the encounter. (Submitted on January 9, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Civil War Trails. Harrisonburg and area (Submitted on February 12, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on January 8, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,216 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 8, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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