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

Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave

Rebecca Wright and Thomas Laws

 
 
Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
1. Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave Marker
Inscription.  In September 1864, U.S. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan heard rumors that Confederate forces had left the Shenandoah Valley to rejoin Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army at Petersburg. Wanting to confirm this information before attacking Gen. Jubal A. Early’s army, Sheridan concocted a dangerous and intriguing scheme. He had learned that a loyal Quaker named Rebecca Wright lived in Winchester on this site. Also, a slave named Thomas Laws often passed through Confederate lines to sell vegetables in town. On September 16, 1864, just three days before the Third Battle of Winchester, Sheridan wrote to Wright, “I learn...that you are a loyal lady and still love the old flag. Can you inform me of the position of Early's forces? Have any more troops arrived from Richmond?” In closing he wrote, “You can trust the bearer.” Laws rolled the note in tin foil and placed it in his mouth. During the Civil War the penalty for spying was death.

Wright wrote in reply, “The division of General [Joseph B.] Kershaw, and [Lt. Col. Wilfred E.] Cutshaw’s artillery, twelve guns and men...have been sent away, and no more are expected.” She added,
Corner of Loudon and Fairfax Lane image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
2. Corner of Loudon and Fairfax Lane
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“the bearer may call again.” She gave the message to Laws, who bravely crossed back to Union lines. Sheridan had the confirmation he needed and days later attacked, routed Early, and forced the Confederates out of Winchester, which would remain under Union control through the end of the war.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US CivilWomen. In addition, it is included in the Quakerism ⛪, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1864.
 
Location. 39° 11.228′ N, 78° 9.857′ W. Marker is in Winchester, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of North Loudoun Street and Fairfax Lane, on the right when traveling north on North Loudoun Street. Located at the corner of the Loudoun Autopark garage. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Winchester VA 22601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Photos of Old Town Winchester (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); President William McKinley (about 400 feet away); George Washington Lot (about 400 feet away); Lee Snyder Lovett (about 500 feet away); Site of Fort Loudoun (about 500 feet away); The George Washington Hotel
Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, May 28, 2020
3. Loyal Quaker and Brave Slave Marker
The marker has experienced significant weather damage.
(about 600 feet away); Handley Library (about 600 feet away); Sheridan’s Headquarters (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
 
More about this marker. Two drawings are displayed. The first depicts, “Gen. Phil Sheridan gives Thomas Laws secret instructions for Rebecca Wright.” The second records, “In Confederate-held Winchester, Thomas Laws delivers his message to Rebecca Wright.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Rebecca McPherson Wright. Wright’s efforts were not well received in the city of Winchester, however Gen. Sheridan ensured she was rewarded for her deeds after the war. (Submitted on September 16, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Rebecca M. "The Loyal Girl of Winchester VA" Wright Bonsal in Find-a-Grave. (Submitted on September 9, 2011, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,723 times since then and 56 times this year. Last updated on September 9, 2011, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 16, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on May 28, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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May. 14, 2021