“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Woodstock in Shenandoah County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)


Execution and “the Burning”

Woodstock Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 1, 2007
1. Woodstock Marker
Inscription. 1864 Valley Campaign
In the midst of the 1864 Valley Campaign, Woodstock bore witness to the horrors of war. Plagued by raiding parties of Confederate partisan rangers, guerrillas and bushwhackers, Union General Philip H. Sheridan issued orders by mid-August to execute anyone captured wearing civilian clothes and carrying a weapon.

While pursuing Jubal Early's retreating Confederate army from the Battle of Fisher's Hill, elements of Brigadier Gen. George A. Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade entered Woodstock on September 23, and captured 39 year-old Davy Getz, armed with a squirrel rifle, in the woods near town.

A rope was tied around Getz's neck, and he was made to walk behind Custer's headquarters wagon as it moved south along the Valley Turnpike (U.S. Route 11). Several men of the town, including merchant Adolph Heller, followed and pleaded with Custer that Getz had the mind of a child and did not know what he was doing. The pleas to the young brigadier fell on deaf ears. Finally, Heller admonished Custer saying, "You will have to sleep in a bloody grave for this." Getz was executed near Dayton in Rockingham County on October 2, 1864.

Five days later, Federal troops reentered the town and began laying waste as part of the infamous "Burnings." A portion of Col. Thomas Devin's Brigade of the 1st U.S. Cavalry
The "Burning" Operations Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 1, 2007
2. The "Burning" Operations Map
Division, the 19th New York Cavalry, destroyed the railroad depot, warehouses, a locomotive and three boxcars on the siding. Steady winds came up and soon ignited fires in barns and haystacks on the outskirts of town. Not intending to fire those particular properties, two Union regiments dismounted and assisted in extinguishing the flames.

That evening Sheridan wrote Gen. Ulysses Grant from Woodstock reporting that the destruction of the Valley had reached from mountain to mountain in Augusta County to the south, and would continue the next day to Strasburg in the north.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 53.001′ N, 78° 30.53′ W. Marker is in Woodstock, Virginia, in Shenandoah County. Marker is at the intersection of West Court Street and School Street, on the right when traveling east on West Court Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Woodstock VA 22664, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. This Building of (approx. 0.2 miles away); Shenandoah County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Shenandoah County Jail
Woodstock Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, December 1, 2007
3. Woodstock Marker
(approx. 0.2 miles away); John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mabel Lee Walton and Sigma Sigma Sigma (approx. mile away); 1LT Charles Bare Gatewood (approx. mile away); a different marker also named Woodstock (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Woodstock (approx. mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Woodstock.
More about this marker. In the upper center is a drawing of "Woodstock, Virginia, 1864." On the right are portraits of Gen. G. A. Custer and Adolph Heller above a map depicting the Federal operations in the Valley during the "Burnings." "Arrows depict Federal movements conducing systematic destruction September 26 through October 8, 1864."
Additional keywords. The Burning
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,877 times since then and 167 times this year. Last updated on , by Linda Walcroft of Strasburg, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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