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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, “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
Corner of Loudon and Fairfax Lane image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 25, 2007
2. Corner of Loudon and Fairfax Lane
forced the Confederates out of Winchester, which would remain under Union control through the end of the war.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
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. Touch for map. Located at the corner of the Loudoun Autopark garage. Marker is in this post office area: Winchester VA 22601, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. President William McKinley (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); George Washington Lot (about 400 feet away); Site of Fort Loudoun (about 500 feet away); Sheridan’s Headquarters (about 600 feet away); Fort Loudoun (about 700 feet away); Mary Greenhow Lee (about 700 feet away); Washington's Well (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Loudoun (about 700 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.)
 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 16, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,303 times since then and 76 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. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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