“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Dayton in Rockingham County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)


Dark Days in the Burnt District

Dayton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 20, 2009
1. Dayton Marker
Inscription.  In the fall of 1864, attacks by Confederate raiders and bushwhackers angered Federal officers in the Shenandoah Valley. On September 22, Union soldiers captured a hapless man named Davy Getz near Woodstock who was wearing civilian clothes and carrying a squirrel rifle. When Union Gen. George A. Custer ordered his execution as a bushwhacker, town elders pleaded with Custer for leniency, claiming that Getz had only the mind of a six-year-old. Custer ignored their pleas, and on October 1 or 2, Getz was made to dig his own grave in an orchard a hundred yards behind you and then was shot to death. Adolph Heller, a Woodstock man who had tried and failed to secure Getz's release, warned Custer, "You will sleep in a bloody grave for this."

On October 3, Union Lt. John R. Meigs, the son of U.S. Army Quartermaster Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs and a promising young officer on Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's staff, was killed in a brief fight with Confederate scouts north of Dayton. Believing that civilian bushwhackers had "murdered" Meigs, Sheridan ordered all of the houses in a three-mile radius of Dayton burned to the ground in retaliation.

Dayton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Robert H. Moore, II, February 20, 2009
2. Dayton Marker
soldiers of the 5th New York Cavalry came to burn the large two-story brick house in the distance, a 70-year-old woman confronted them in her doorway, saying, “You cannot burn this house. I am a first cousin of the president.” Indeed, Abigail Lincoln Coffman was a first cousin once removed of Abraham Lincoln. Her bold statement, and perhaps because soldiers ransacking the dwelling found her husband’s Masonic apron, saved her house while others burned nearby.
Erected by Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation & Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 38° 24.808′ N, 78° 56.44′ W. Marker is in Dayton, Virginia, in Rockingham County. Marker is on John Wayland Highway (Route 42), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dayton VA 22821, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lt. Col. Thomas F. Wildes (approx. ¼ mile away); Shenandoah College and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Harrison (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Church in Rockingham County
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(approx. half a mile away); Daniel Bowman Mill at Silver Lake (approx. 0.6 miles away); Death of Lt. Meigs (approx. 1.2 miles away); a different marker also named Death of Lt. Meigs (approx. 1.2 miles away); Site Where Lt. John Rodgers Meigs Was Killed (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dayton.
More about this marker. In the lower left are portraits of Gen. George A. Custer, Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, and Lt. John R. Meigs, as a cadet at West Point. On the right is a portrait of Abigail Lincoln Coffman.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 25, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,487 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 25, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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Jul. 10, 2020