Wednesday, October 17, 2007

a mass of flames

photo from the Emory collection

Practically over the roof of the factory extended an iron bridge on the Virginia Central line to Richmond. In order to warp the rails and burn the ties, coals still red-hot from recent use were carried by the soldiers from the mill furnace to the bridge. When a few pieces fell upon a greasy floor the factory quickly became a mass of flames. In this undramatic and unintentional fashion the mill became a casualty of the war. Henry Marchant did not witness the disaster. As the Union force entered Charlottesville, he had hobbled off to the hills on the southeast, driving his livestock ahead to save them from hungry enemy soldiers. From Carter's Mountain he watched smoke rising above the town and in the vicinity of "Pireus" without knowing what was burning. Not until after Sheridan continued south on March 6 did Marchant return home to discover the grave financial and sentimental loss he had suffered. His family and home were untouched, but his chief means of livelihood was gone.--Harry Poindexter

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