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

Hartwood Presbyterian Church

The Writing on the Wall

Hartwood Presbyterian Church CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 6, 2009
1. Hartwood Presbyterian Church CWT Marker
Inscription.  This is Hartwood Presbyterian Church, which Federal troops occupied during the Civil War. They removed and burned all the woodwork, leaving only the bare plaster walls. On November 24, 1862, Capt. George Johnson, 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, arrived here with two squadrons. An amateur artist, he spent more time drawing graffiti on the church’s plaster walls than attending to his troops’ security. Johnson also failed to heed his superior’s warnings of an impending attack. On November 28, while most of the men were asleep, a squadron of Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton’s cavalry evaded Johnson’s pickets and surprised and captured the Federal reserves here, as well as many officers and men posted nearby. The next day, Gen. William W. Averell, who commanded the 1st Cavalry Brigade in the Army of the Potomac, recommended that Johnson be brought before a court martial, or cashiered and dropped from the army rolls. Johnson was dismissed from the service on December 2, 1862, for his “disgraceful and unofficerlike conduct” here. The congregation repaired the church after the war and removed the graffiti.

“After the most careful
Hartwood Presbyterian Church Markers image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 6, 2009
2. Hartwood Presbyterian Church Markers
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and comprehensive instructions, and with a timely warning fresh in his memory, Captain Johnson permitted his command to be surprised and a greater portion of it captured, bringing disgrace and shame upon his regiment and the brigade to which it belonged, and our cavalry service into disrepute. I have the honor to request that the name of Capt. George Johnson, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, be dropped from the rolls, or, if an opportunity shall occur to bring him to trial, that it may be done.”
- Gen. William W. Averell, Nov. 29, 1862

“Myself and another … decided to take shelter at Hartwood Church, a small brick structure. On entering, we were struck with a number of texts and embellishments executed in charcoal on the walls. The seats have been torn out, the windows and doors smashed, and the walls covered with obscene characters and writings. A body of Union Cavalry did this dastardly desecration in the house of worship - a sufficient commentary on the characters of these dirty caricatures of patriots. No matter if it is a Rebel house of worship, its character should be a protection against vandalism. Such treatment of churches is a disgrace to the much-boasted civilization of the nineteenth century.” - Pvt. John W. Haley, 17th Maine Infantry, June 11, 1863, diary, Dyer Library, Saco Museums, Saco, Maine
Erected by
Hartwood Presbyterian Church image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 6, 2009
3. Hartwood Presbyterian Church
Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 11, 1766.
Location. 38° 24.106′ N, 77° 34.021′ W. Marker is near Hartwood, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker is on Hartwood Church Road 0.2 miles west of Warrenton Road (U.S. 17), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 50 Hartwood Church Rd, Hartwood VA 22471, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Hartwood Presbyterian Church (here, next to this marker); Gold Mining in Stafford County (approx. 0.3 miles away); Mt. Olive Baptist Church (approx. 3.1 miles away); The Mud March (approx. 3.8 miles away); Fredericksburg Campaign (approx. 3.8 miles away); Civilian Conservation Corps Company 2363 (approx. 3.8 miles away); Hulls Memorial Baptist Church (approx. 5.1 miles away); Milton Snellings (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hartwood.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a photo of “Gen. William W. Averell” Courtesy Library of Congress. On the upper right is a photo of “Pvt. John W. Haley” Courtesy Haley Family
Hartwood Church Road (facing west). image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 6, 2009
4. Hartwood Church Road (facing west).
Hartwood Presbyterian Church Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 6, 2009
5. Hartwood Presbyterian Church Plaque
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 6, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,998 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 6, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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May. 18, 2021