Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mount Vernon During the War

From the August 7th Washington Times "Tour shows Mount Vernon's role in Civil War" by Meredith Somers.

Exactly whose side was George Washington's home Mount Vernon on during the conflict? Neither. It was neutral.

A new tour offered at the place relates the Civil War history of Mount Vernon. The crumbling estate at the time had thousands of soldiers visit during the war from both the North and South. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association kept the plantation as neutral as possible. After all, Washington was the Father of His Country for both sides.

A year before the start of the war, Pamela Cunningham, the woman who was aghast at how badly the old mansion and grounds had deteriorated and started the Ladies Association to preserve it, had returned to her home in South Carolina because of a death in the family.

She left her secretary, Sarah Tracey, of New York and a Northerner and Upton Herbert, the plantation's overseer and a Southerner, in charge of it.

They decided that since Mt. Vernon was between the two sides, it should be an "island of neutrality."

Visiting soldiers were asked to check their weapons and were offered blankets to cover their uniforms. The article didn't mention how successful this was.

Soldiers, many of whom had never been more than ten miles from home, looked at and touched everything.

The neutrality of the site saved it from the devastation brought upon the surrounding area.

Postscript, the Northerner Sarah Tracey eventually married Southerner Upton Herbert.

True Love and Saving a Historic Site. --Old B-R'er

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