October 2, 2022


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Mary Jane’s Warfare doc

‘Til dying do us half.

Mary Jane Arnott Smith took that portion of her wedding ceremony vows to the intense when she traveled some 120 miles from Monroe County to Lexington and again within the midst of the Civil Warfare to retrieve the stays of her beloved husband, Ralph, a casualty within the 1864 Battle of New Market.

Mary Jane’s epic journey is chronicled in “Mary Jane’s Warfare,” a Civil Warfare novel based mostly on a real story by Joe B. Roles, a local of Monroe County who lived at Salt Sulphur Springs. Roles died on Aug. 20, 2019, on the age of 86 and is buried at Inexperienced Hill Cemetery in Union, W.Va.

Alleghany County was nonetheless in its infancy when the Warfare Between the States erupted. It had been carved from parts of Botetourt, Tub and Monroe counties and was shaped by an act of the Virginia Normal Meeting on Jan. 5, 1822. Roles expertly describes the hardships of rural farm and household life in these days, the challenges offered by journey, the affect guests to the assorted springs had on the realm and the impression the battle performed on on a regular basis life in these rural communities. He additionally mentions in his e book many landmarks and areas of Alleghany County that the reader will instantly acknowledge.

Roles devoted his e book to Malcolm McKinley Weikle (1925-2002), a neighborhood historian who was born and raised in Lillydale, W.Va., and perpetuated the story of Mary Jane for years.

Ralph Smith was wounded on Might 15, 1864, when he was hit within the leg by a minnie bullet. The lead ball was eliminated, and he was taken to a hospital in Harrisonburg, however the swelling and gangrene continued. His leg was later amputated, however Ralph wouldn’t recuperate, and he died on June 9, 1864.

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Ralph’s stays had been shipped to Lexington and saved in a burned-out gymnasium at VMI. A discover was despatched in June notifying Mary Jane that Ralph’s physique might be claimed no later than Jan. 31, 1865. The letter didn’t attain Mary Jane till Sept. 27.

Though she had by no means traveled exterior Monroe County, which earlier than the Civil Warfare was part of Virginia, Mary Jane introduced throughout a church service that she would go to say Ralph’s stays, as a result of he deserved a correct burial on the hill close to their dwelling in Lillydale. Planning for the journey took a number of months, and on Jan. 2, 1865, Mary Jane, accompanied by three of her sons and a freed slave, launched into an 18-day round-trip journey to Lexington.

Mary Jane’s journey took her by Alleghany County, and a number of other well-known landmarks are talked about within the story. They deliberate to spend their second night time close to Callaghan’s Tavern however modified their plans as a result of the tavern was full of quite a few unsavory characters and a squad of Yankees. As a substitute, they determined to courageous the sleet and snow, touring one other mile to the east and spending the night time on Humpback Bridge, its cowl offering safety from the wintry climate.

Humpback Bridge was additionally comparatively new when the battle began. The distinctive and iconic construction, nonetheless thought of maybe Alleghany County’s most recognizable landmark, had been inbuilt 1857 to accommodate vacationers on the Midland Path. The design of the practically 110-foot bridge was lined and arched to extend its longevity and maintain the midpoint above the Dunlap Creek floodwaters.

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Mary Jane and her social gathering had been challenged with fording the Jackson River at Covington and once more as they made their means towards Selma. With heavy snow on North Mountain limiting journey on the Lexington-Covington Turnpike, they determined to comply with the James River to Buchanan after which flip north to Lexington.

South of Clifton Forge, they noticed a prepare for the primary time that had been broken by Union troops and was inoperable. One of many automobiles was half filled with cannon balls that had been made proper there in Clifton Forge. That night time, they discovered a vacant home and spent the night time in Iron Gate.

On Day 12, they lastly picked up Ralph’s physique and started the trek homeward, this time navigating the Lexington-Covington Turnpike over North Mountain. They once more stayed in Selma and cleared the hurdle of crossing the Jackson River at Island Ford.

Due to the shortage of meals in the course of the battle, hunger was a problem. On a number of events throughout their journey, Mary Jane bartered meals and different assets for lodging and different wants.

On Day 18, their journey was full as they made their means down Lillydale Highway towards dwelling, accompanied by a bunch of a couple of dozen well-wishers at their facet. Burial preparations had been made for Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21, 1865, and it was solely acceptable that the identical wagon which introduced Ralph dwelling was used to hold him to the cemetery on the hill. A wounded soldier performed “Superb Grace” on a trumpet as Ralph’s physique was lowered into the bottom.

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Mary Jane went on to boost her seven kids by herself and operated the household farm till her dying in 1914. Lillydale, with a inhabitants of lower than 100 residents, gained a church and a faculty. It additionally had a publish workplace and retailer. One in all Mary Jane’s nice grandsons, Lt. Samuel Ralph Smith, was killed 80 years after his nice grandfather when a airplane he was testing exploded over New Guinea throughout World Warfare II.

Though “Mary Jane’s Warfare” relies on a real story, it’s thought of a piece of fiction as a result of the details are very restricted, and all of the characters and occasions portrayed within the novel are used fictitiously. The e book was written in 2002 by Roles, a storyteller born in Union, W.Va. Roles was a graduate of Harmony Faculty, now Harmony College. He served within the U.S. Military and was an beginner genealogist.

It’s arduous to fathom {that a} journey which might solely take the higher a part of a day as we speak took practically three weeks again in 1865. However Mary Jane persevered to win her one small battle throughout an epic battle to deliver her beloved Ralph safely dwelling.