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

Buchanan in Botetourt County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Wilson Warehouse

“Fit only for … owls and bats.”


— Hunter’s Raid —

Wilson Warehouse CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2012
1. Wilson Warehouse 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.

(marker text)
On June 14, 1864, after Union Gen. David Hunter’s force forded the James River upstream from the Buchanan Bridge that Confederate John C. McCausland had partially burned, the Federals swarmed through Buchanan and the surrounding countryside. They looted homes and farms for food and valuables, including a cache of fine wine that fueled a boisterous party well into the night. The soldiers also damaged canal locks and embankments, and destroyed several bateaux
Lowe & Washington Streets image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2012
2. Lowe & Washington Streets
and packet boats and their cargoes. A few months after the brief occupation, a resident wrote that the Iower part of town was a ruin “fit only for the habitation of owls and bats.”

During the Civil War, Buchanan consisted of 110 households with 650 free inhabitants and 250 slaves and was the largest community on the James River west of the Blue Ridge. As the terminus of the James River and Kanawha Canal, Buchanan served as an important Confederate depot for agricultural produce and pig iron en route to Richmond. Wilson Warehouse (the present-day Community House) and other warehouses stored military supplies and other goods bound for the Shenandoah Valley and elsewhere in western Virginia. After Hunter s raid, however, Buchanan’s role as a commercial center dwindled until the arrival of the railroad in 1881.

The home of noted Virginia novelist Mary Johnston (1870-1936) stood across from the Wilson Warehouse. Her father, Maj. John W. Johnston, a kinsman of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, served in the Botetourt Artillery of Vicksburg fame. Mary Johnston used her father’s diaries to write two Civil War novels, The Long Roll and Cease Firing. Her most famous book is To Have and To Hold.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics. This historical marker is listed
Wilson Warehouse (Community House) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2012
3. Wilson Warehouse (Community House)
in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 37° 31.627′ N, 79° 40.944′ W. Marker is in Buchanan, Virginia, in Botetourt County. Marker is at the intersection of Lowe Street (County Road T-1305) and Washington Street, on the right when traveling south on Lowe Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Buchanan VA 24066, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trinity United Methodist Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Botetourt Artillery (about 500 feet away); Buchanan (about 500 feet away); Trinity Episcopal Church (about 500 feet away); H.L. Williams House (about 600 feet away); Buchanan Baptist Church (about 800 feet away); Star/Buchanan Theatre (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kemble Building (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Buchanan.
More about this marker. On the lower left is an image with the caption, "Packet boat on James River and Kanawha Canal with Confederate troops near Buchanan, Harper’s Weekly, 1861. - Courtesy Paul Simpkins"

In the center is a "Photograph (1880) of Wilson Warehouse (right) and Hotel Botetourt, built 1851 and burned 1997. Hotel guests included Gens. Robert E. Lee and Jubal A Early."

On the upper right is a portrait of "Mary Johnston, 1895"

On the lower right is a Virginia Civil Trails map of Hunter's Raid.
Virginia Historic Landmark image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2012
4. Virginia Historic Landmark
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 619 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 29, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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Oct. 27, 2020