By J. L. Starkey
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some’d say.
Where is the life that I recognize?
-Simon John Charles LeBon
Pleasant Womack’s Manchester property was absolutely perfect. Three lots at the corner of Stockton, fronting sixty feet on Marshall, extending back 118 feet, right across the river from Richmond, close to work, school, and church…and all for just $350!
It was the right time to buy, too. Everett Baugh had read all the latest news, and he knew a good market when he saw it . Yes, there was talk of secession and war, but that was further south – the news reports were pretty reassuring about that. Fort Sumter was said to be secure, so that really wasn’t a worry, either .
Plus, it wasn’t like Virginia had seceded, or anything like that. There were rumors aplenty, but Everett never put much stock in that sort of thing.
Even if the the worst-case scenario played out, would that really affect him – or his family? He didn’t own a plantation, he had never owned slaves, and he had no intention of taking up arms against his own country. Talk like that was ridiculous, and he wanted no part of it.
His decision made, Everett signed the indenture paperwork on April 2, 1861 . Life certainly was grand on that day. He had a steady job, a wife and two children (and a baby on the way!), and now he owned this amazing property, too! It seemed too good to be true. Everything was finally falling into place, and –
“Oh no,” I whispered as I looked at the document, and that date in particular. “No! Don’t sign that!” I thought. “The timing is disastrous…you don’t know what’s coming!”
This simply could not be, could it?
Sadly, it could be…and it was.
Just ten days after my third-great-grandfather, Everett Wingfield Baugh, purchased his dream home, the Civil War began.
Five days later, Virginia seceded from the Union .
And just like that, Everett’s dream turned into a nightmare.
When I discovered Everett’s name on that April 1861 deed, I wondered if the deal was actually finalized. Maybe, at the last minute, he didn’t complete the purchase because the property had issues. Or maybe Pleasant Womack changed his mind and decided not to sell. Yes, the document included both a notary signature and a court date, but property deals fell through all the time, didn’t they?
They did…but not this time.
Last week, while searching for another Chesterfield County Court record, I looked at a few additional pages in Volume 38. That turned out to be a wise choice, because digital image 275 contained two names that looked mighty familiar: Womack and – yep, you guessed it – Baugh.
On May 13, 1861, Everett Baugh and Pleasant Womack appeared in court to finalize the sale of the Manchester property, and their deed of bargain was officially admitted to record .
Just one week later, the capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond, less than three miles from Everett’s front door .
The war was about to hit home…literally.
Innocent Bystanders, Lost Causes
Although I’ll never know with 100% certainty, I believe that Everett, like his son William, was vehemently against slavery and the Civil War. Born into a family with deep southern roots, his ancestors were wealthy landowners and – tragically – slaveholders. Many of his relatives followed in the footsteps of those ancestors and, when the war began, were quick to enlist in the Confederate army.
But Everett was different. He never owned a plantation, he never owned slaves, and he never voluntarily defended the Confederacy. He may have thought (or hoped) that his actions would spare his family from the effects of the war, but he was wrong about that.
In reality, his life would never be the same after April 1861.
Everett finally owned his dream home, but the town around it was forever changed by civil war. His third child – a daughter named Elizabeth – was born just one month after the war began . By the time she was three months old, Richmond was described as “one vast armed camp” by some, and as “little different from the wicked biblical city of Sodom” by others. Manchester, once a quiet community of churches, schools, and mills, was now home to a field hospital, a Confederate Navy Yard, and several artillery batteries .
Eleven months after the war began, Richmond was placed under martial law . Over the next two years, the city’s population (and crime rate) would increase exponentially, food and supplies would become scarce, Confederate currency would prove worthless, and inflation would exceed an astonishing 9000% .
Finally, Richmond reached a tipping point. Frustrated, hungry, and feeling ignored by their leaders, a group of women took to the streets. By the time it was over, thousands of residents would join the protest, looting businesses and chanting “Bread or blood!”
Violence would rage for hours, and only the threat of military force would succeed in dispersing the mob.
Local papers were urged not to report on the event, as officials felt it would “fuel union propaganda” and lower morale. While the Richmond press complied with this plea, Union prisoners of war did not, and the Richmond Bread Riot became front-page news .
The date was April 2, 1863.
It had been exactly two years since Everett Baugh had purchased his dream home.
From Conscription to Capture
He might have tried to avoid defending a cause he didn’t support, but by 1864, Everett had no choice. In August of that year, he was conscripted into the Second Virginia Volunteers, a Local Defense unit better known as Waller’s Battalion.
At the start of his enlistment, he continued working as a machinist at Manchester Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing, a factory-turned-munitions plant .
In 1865, however, everything changed when Waller’s Battalion was sent to fight in the Appomattox Campaign. Everett was one of the almost 8000 CSA soldiers taken prisoner at “the largest field surrender in American history,” the Battles of Sayler’s Creek . Though he probably didn’t know it at the time of his capture, Richmond had already fallen, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.
The date was April 3, 1865.
It had been exactly four years and one day since Everett Baugh had purchased his dream home.
Speaking Up…Or Maybe Not
He was born into a life that didn’t quite suit him. Faced with tough choices, he persevered. And he stayed, though some might question the wisdom of that decision. Why did he remain in an area with a civil war raging just outside of his front door? If he didn’t support the CSA, why didn’t he speak up, or just leave?
In 2022, it’s easy to wonder about Everett’s actions. But in 1860s Richmond, speaking up meant putting his wife, his children, and his extended family in danger. Leaving meant selling his property and financing a costly relocation, but money, along with just about everything else, was in short supply.
Faced with no other choice, Everett stayed.
Though he moved around a bit in the post-war years, Everett never left the Richmond area, and he ultimately returned to Manchester, where he remained until his death in 1902. Perhaps he mused about what might have been, had it not been for the choices he made during those ten days in April 1861.
And perhaps he wondered if anyone was listening.
In 2017, I learned that Everett’s youngest son, my great-great-grandfather William Everett Baugh, left Richmond as soon as he was of an age to do so. He settled in Chicago, where he became a successful businessman and a loving father. (You can learn more about William Everett Baugh by clicking here.)
In 2019, I discovered the fate of William H. Baugh, an orphaned nephew who was raised by Everett. While most relatives believed that William was killed in action during the Civil War, he had actually faked his own death, deserted the Confederate Army, and enlisted in the Union Army. After the war, he settled in Pennsylvania, raised a large family, and even drew a Union pension! (You can learn more about William H. Baugh by clicking here).
Did anyone hear you, Everett? Was anyone listening?
They did…and they were.
They absolutely were.
- “Real Estate in Richmond,” Richmond Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, 2 Apr 1861, p. 1, col. 6. Retrieved 26 Feb 2022 from newspapers.com.
- “Commissioners of the Confederate States at Washington,” Richmond Daily Whig, Richmond, Virginia, 1 Apr 1861, p. 3, col. 2. Retrieved 25 Feb 2022 from Genealogy Bank.
- Chesterfield County, Virginia, Deed Book No. 45, 1860-1862. “Chesterfield, Virginia, United States Records,” images, pp. 369-370 [digital images 554 & 555 of 744]; Virginia. County Court (Chesterfield County). Retrieved 17 Jun 2021 from FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C373-89B8-V : February 28, 2022).
- “Civil War.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 15 Oct. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/american-civil-war-history. [See also: “The War Commenced,” Richmond Dispatch, 13 Apr 1861, p. 3, col. 1. Retrieved 26 Feb 2022 from newspapers.com; and “Virginia Will Secede!” The Kansas State Journal, Lawrence, Kansas, 18 Apr 1861, p. 2, col. 7. Retrieved 27 Feb 2022 from newspapers.com.]
- Chesterfield County Virginia County Court Minutes No. 38, 1857-1863. “Chesterfield, Virginia, United States Records,” p. 476, item 27 [digital image 275 of 485]; Virginia. County Court (Chesterfield County). Retrieved 26 Feb 2022 from FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSY6-CV47 : February 28, 2022).
- “Capital Cities of the Confederacy.” American Battlefield Trust, 26 Mar. 2021. Retrieved 27 Feb 2022 from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/capital-cities-confederacy.
- “Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVR7-QHRV : 16 August 2019), Elizabeth Amos Waldrop, 13 Aug 1918; from “Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2012); citing Richmond, Henrico, Virginia, United States, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
- DeCredico, Mary, and Jaime Martinez. “Richmond during the Civil War” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (05 Feb. 2021). Web. Retrieved 2 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/richmond-during-the-civil-war/. [See also: “The Manchester Industrial Historic District.” Church Hill People’s News, 28 Dec. 2016. Retrieved 1 Mar 2022 from https://chpn.net/2015/04/21/the-manchester-industrial-historic-district/#civilwar.]
- Camp of U.S. Military R.R. Construction Corp near Manchester, Va., April. [Photographed 1865, printed between 1880 and 1889] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2012648020/>.
- Flook, Jim. “Civil Liberties in Virginia during the Civil War” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 7 Dec. 2020. Retrieved 1 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/civil-liberties-in-virginia-during-the-civil-war/. [See also: “Martial Law in Richmond,” Richmond Enquirer, 4 Mar 1862, p. 4, col. 2. Retrieved 1 Mar 2022 from newspapers.com.]
- Escott, Paul. “Speculation during the Civil War” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (05 Feb. 2021). Retrieved 3 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/speculation-during-the-civil-war/.
- DeCredico, Mary. “Bread Riot, Richmond” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (05 Feb. 2021). Retrieved 2 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/bread-riot-richmond/.
- “Bread Riot In Richmond,” The New York Times, New York, New York, 8 Apr 1863, p. 1, col. 4, Retrieved 4 Mar 2022 from newspapers.com.
- “Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J3WD-FCX : 5 December 2014), E W Baugh, 1864; from “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : n.d.); citing military unit Second Infantry Second Infantry, Local Defense, NARA microfilm publication M324 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1961), roll 381. [See also: “A Good Man Gone,” Richmond Dispatch, 23 Jan 1902, Page 5,col. 4. Retrieved 11 Jun 2020 from newspapers.com.]
- Schroeder, Patrick. “Sailor’s Creek, Battles of” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (12 Feb. 2021). Retrieved 3 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/sailors-creek-battles-of/. [See also: “Sailor’s Creek” @ https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battles-detail.htm?battleCode=va093; “10 Facts: Sailor’s Creek.” American Battlefield Trust, 13 Apr. 2021, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/10-facts-sailors-creek; and Schroeder, Patrick. “Appomattox Campaign” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Jan. 2021). Retrieved 2 Mar 2022 from https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/appomattox-campaign/.]
Wow! I can’t begin to thank you for this powerful narrative and research. As a descendant of Everett through his son George and granddaughter Robena, I continue to be fascinated by your discoveries and how you bring them to life through storytelling.
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Thank you so much! This was a tough post to research and write, given what is happening in the world right now.
Fascinating how you tie all the pieces together in your narrative. Why must war be such a constant disruption? How can anyone feel good about sending young men off to die and be maimed?
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I’ve wondered the same thing so often in the last few weeks.
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Oh yes, love the Duran Duran quote – one of my favorite songs!
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I saw them in concert many years ago (the last time the original five toured together)…the lyrics of that song have always resonated with me!
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