A Hint of Total War
"Pope Must be Suppressed" — Gen. Robert E. Lee
In July 1862, Gen. John Pope brought the first hint of "total war"—in a mild form by later standards—to Rappahannock County residents. This new Union policy, designed to inflict intense pain on civilians who supported the Southern cause, was particularly acute in Sperryville. Two of Pope's infamous orders summarized the approach. In General Order No. 5, issued on July 17, Pope announced that "as far as practicable, the troops of this command will subsist upon the country. … Vouchers will be given to the owners … [provided] that such owners have been loyal citizens of the United States." On July 23, in General Order No. 11, Pope declared that "If any person, having taken the oath of allegiance [to the United States], be found to have violated it, he shall be shot, and his property seized and applied to the public use."
Pope's orders echoed provisions in the Second Confiscation Act of July 17, 1862, which President Abraham Lincoln supported and promulgated. According to the Act, if any person was "engaged in armed rebellion against the Government of the United States, … all the estate and property, moneys, stock, and credits
Many senior Union officers opposed the Act, believing that it and Pope's orders would reduce discipline among the troops. Not surprisingly, ordinary soldiers enthusiastically supported the policies. Members of Gen. Franz Sigel's Corps, camped at Sperryville, were especially vigorous in helping themselves to livestock, produce, and personal property from local farm. Although Pope would later issue more temperate orders, the hard hand of war now applied to civilians.
"The confiscation bill [and] orders from Gen. Pope, … please the soldiers exceedingly."
— George Breck, 1st New York Light Artillery, Washington, Va., letter to Rochester Union Advertiser, July 31, 1862
On the night of July 16, 1862, two soldiers and a black servant of the 1st New York Light Artillery entered a house near Sperryville and raped a slave. The perpetrators were quickly apprehended, tried, and found guilty. Justice was not color-blind, however. The The black servant received five years at hard labor versus two for the whites.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Law Enforcement • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1862.
Location. 38° 39.488′ N, 78° 13.552′ W. Marker is in Sperryville, Virginia, in Rappahannock County. Marker is on Water Street (County Road 1002) just east of U.S. 522, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Water Street, Sperryville VA 22740, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sigels' Corps (here, next to this marker); Sperryville (a few steps from this marker); Sister Caroline (a few steps from this marker); Hopkins Ordinary (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 48 Main Street (about 400 feet away); Medical Miracle (about 500 feet away); 33 Main Street (about 700 feet away); 31 Main Street (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sperryville.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 19, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 19, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.