February 29, 2012

Courtyard, Winchester

View from the Courthouse Steps, Winchester, Virginia
Here Frank is looking at a plaque about Lord Fairfax, who owned and administered a huge land grant in Colonial Virginia. It was Fairfax who hired the 16-year-old George Washington in 1748 to survey his lands.

By the 1860's, the court house was here and the yard in front of it was surrounded by an iron fence. The fenced area and the building were put to use as a jail for captured Union soldiers and miscreant Confederates.

Sgt. Henry Peck, a Pennsylvania soldier who was captured and briefly imprisoned here in 1862, wrote,
“In Winchester we were consigned to the court-house and the inclosure between it and the street. There were already in the these precincts a crowd of some 300 rebels, stragglers, conscripts and the riff-raff a provost-guard can pick up—a miserable lot—who did not fraternize with our men, and who were so filthy in clothing and habits that our men remained of choice in the open yard without tents or blankets, even during the nights of hoarfrost, to avoid contact with those in the court-house, which we were otherwise free to occupy.”

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