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


In the Eye of the Storm

— Hunter’s Raid —

Avenel CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 29, 2011
1. Avenel CWT Marker
Inscription.  (preface)
On May 26, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter marched south from Cedar Creek near Winchester to drive out Confederate forces, lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley, and destroy transportation facilities at Lynchburg. His raid was part of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s strategy to attack Confederates simultaneously throughout Virginia. After defeating Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones at Piedmont on June 5, Hunter marched to Lexington, burned Virginia Military Institute, and headed to Lynchburg. There on June 17–18, Gen. Jubal A. Early repulsed Hunter and pursued him to West Virginia. Early then turned north in July to threaten Washington.

(main text)
The war came early and late to Avenel. When the conflict began, Catherine Burwell’s husband, Dr. Thomas M. Bowyer, served as captain of the Old Dominion Rifles, a Bedford County militia company that drilled on the Avenel property here in April 1861. The unit entered Confederate service on June 1 as Co. C, 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment, fought in the First Battle of Manassas, then became a light artillery battery in action under Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall”
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Jackson at Cedar Mountain and Antietam. Later, Boyer served in Southwest Virginia. On July 18, 1863, after an engagement at Wytheville, he treated and protected Union Col. William H. Powell, a wounded prisoner of war. Powell, released early in 1864 and riding with Gen. David Hunter on his June raid, returned the favor by protecting Avenel and the Burwells. Hunter’s men stopped here twice, en route to and from Lynchburg, and the Confederates paused here as they pursued Hunter to West Virginia, but left the house untouched.

Other visitors proved more congenial company. In 1863, Mrs. Robert E. Lee and her daughters stopped here as they returned to Richmond from the mountains’ hot springs resorts. After thw war, in 1867, Gen. Lee and his daughter Mildred also visited here. When news of Lee’s arrival spread across town, former Confederate soldiers came here to salute him.

“The ladies offered to make up the undress uniforms for the Old Dominion Volunteers while they were out here this afternoon drilling. I wrote the offer of the ladies and sent it down to them. It was read aloud and tremendous cheers rent the air for the ladies.” - Letitia M. Burwell diary, Wed., Apr. 24, 1861.

In 1836, William McCreary Burwell and Frances Steptoe Burwell constructed this dwelling just outside Liberty (present-day Bedford). The
Avenel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 29, 2011
2. Avenel
Burwells had five children, Letitia McCreary, Catherine Steptoe, Mary Francis, Rosalie, and James Steptoe Burwell. – Courtesy of Avenel Foundation
Erected by 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. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1861.
Location. 37° 20.287′ N, 79° 31.463′ W. Marker is in Bedford, Virginia, in Bedford County. Marker can be reached from Avenel Avenue north of Burwell Way, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 413 Avenel Avenue, Bedford VA 24523, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Peaks of Otter Road (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Bedford (approx. ¼ mile away); Bedford County Confederate Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); Bedford County WWII Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Bedford’s Volunteer Company (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Bedford (approx. 0.3 miles away); Randolph-Macon Academy (approx. 0.4 miles away); Home of John Goode (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bedford.
Also see . . .
1. Historic Avenel. The Avenel
Map of Hunter's Raid image. Click for full size.
May 29, 2011
3. Map of Hunter's Raid
Foundation website entry (Submitted on May 30, 2011.) 

2. Avenel. Virginia Department of Historic Resources website entry (Submitted on May 30, 2011.) 

3. Hunter's Raid (or the Lynchburg Campaign). John's Military History website entry (Submitted on March 27, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 1, 2024. It was originally submitted on May 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,934 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 30, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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May. 25, 2024