Richmond Unionists

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 :: Richmond Unionists ::
Information about Unionists and Spies in Richmond, VA during the Civil War.

This page features information on the Unionists of Richmond as well as their wartime spying activity. See also the Elizabeth Van Lew page.

Summary of Franklin Stearns file, M346, National Archives. This file represents payments made by the Confederate Government to Franklin Stearns, a known Richmond Unionist, including rent paid for several warehouses used as hospitals.

Written Accounts

Richmond Dispatch 3/3/1862; Account of arrests of J. M. Botts, Stearns & others. Confined in “the new brick building on the extension of Fifteenth street, on the right-hand side, beyond the auction house of Messrs. Dickinson & Hill” (Castle Godwin)
Richmond Whig 3/3/1862; John Minor Botts, Franklin Stearns and other Union men have been arrested and put in "a jail situated in Lumpkin’s Alley" [Castle Godwin]
Richmond Enquirer 3/4/1862; John Minor Botts and Franklin Stearns arrested; Richmond under martial law
Richmond Enquirer 3/4/1862; John Scully & Pryce Lewis (Pinkerton spies) arrested and claim protection of British government.
Richmond Enquirer 3/4/1862; Union sympathizers sent to Castle Godwin; John Scully sent there also
Richmond Dispatch 3/6/1862; list of recent arrests of Unionists including Rev. Bosserman of 1st Independent Christian Church, Mayo St.
Richmond Enquirer 3/6/1862; Due to recent Unionist mischief, all Union prisoners (500 in number) are denied access to anyone or anything from the outside
Richmond Enquirer 3/6/1862; Charles Palmer and others arrested on charges of disloyalty and locked up in Castle Godwin
Richmond Examiner 3/6/1862; Unionists and grog-sellers have been confined in McDaniel's jail (Castle Godwin)
Richmond Dispatch 3/7/1862; Charles Palmer has been released from custody
Richmond Enquirer 3/7/1862; Charles Palmer released from custody for suspected unionist sympathies
Richmond Enquirer 3/7/1862; Two more unionists arrested and put in Castle Godwin
Richmond Whig 3/7/1862; Charles Palmer has been released from Castle Godwin
Richmond Dispatch 3/22/1862; 77 Unionists from Loudon County incarcerated in “military prison on Main street.”
Richmond Dispatch 3/24/1862; 7 Unionists arrested in Roanoke county, put in Castle Godwin
Richmond Dispatch 4/5/1862; Pryce Lewis and John Scully to be hanged soon at the New Fair Grounds (Camp Lee)
Richmond Dispatch 4/12/1862; trial of John Minor Botts has commenced; he was taken from Castle Godwin under guard, and returned in the same manner
Richmond Enquirer 4/18/1862; Court of Inquiry for Unionist John Minor Botts meets, and fails to release him from prison
Richmond Enquirer 4/26/1862; Franklin Stearns, lately confined in Castle Godwin for alleged disloyalty, has been released, and returns to his "Tree Hill" farm
Richmond Whig 4/28/1862; Franklin Stearns has been released from Castle Godwin, and returns home
Richmond Dispatch 4/29/1862; John M. Botts at Henrico residence - released from Castle Godwin
Richmond Dispatch 4/30/1862; Conditions upon which John M. Botts was released from Castle Godwin: move further South and tell the War Department about it
Richmond Dispatch 4/30/1862; names of 4 men released from Castle Godwin
Richmond Whig 4/30/1862; Timothy Webster, Yankee spy, was hung at Camp Lee yesterday
Richmond Dispatch 7/7/1862; Dabney’s Battery Heavy Artillery thanks Franklin Stearns for his kindness. Battery “quartered near his residence.”
Richmond Dispatch 7/24/1862; AWOL notice for Arthur Rogers, of Dabney’s Siege Battery, who deserted from Winder Hospital. Unit camped at Tree Hill
Richmond Dispatch 7/28/1862; Letcher Artillery camped near Tree Hill. Absentees report – battery to leave
Richmond Dispatch 8/1/1862; Joel Sparks, Nine Mile Road, jailed for having Yankee flag; H. B. Lipscomb of King William County sent to Camp Winder as a conscript
Richmond Enquirer 8/22/1862; 15 unionists put in Castle Thunder
Richmond Dispatch 8/28/1862; B. Wardwell, ice dealer, exonerated of disloyalty & released from Castle Thunder
Richmond Dispatch 11/10/1862; Franklin Stearns buys Orange Co. farm for $50,000
Richmond Dispatch 12/11/1862; 2 of Tim Webster’s accomplices, Lewis & Scully, sent North
Richmond Whig 4/6/1865; account of the escape of two unionists from Castle Thunder on evacuation night
National Tribune 7/27/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond;" description of sentiment in Richmond leading up to secession; John Minor Botts' speech at the African Church, and the Secession Convention in the Mechanics' Institute.
National Tribune 7/27/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond;" description of sentiment in Richmond leading up to secession; John Minor Botts' speech at the African Church, and the Secession Convention in the Mechanics' Institute.
National Tribune 8/3/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond" part three of serial account. Describes the scene in Richmond immediately following secession. States that Gov. Letcher was often drunk; the vote to ratify secession was held in the Old Market building (with serious voter intimidation going on); the Hampden Sydney Battalion passing through Richmond.
National Tribune

8/10/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond;” part four of serial account. Describes John Minor Bott’s stay in “a negro jail in Lombard Alley” [Castle Godwin], the economic situation in Richmond, the Battle of First Manassas, the man who [Mr. Gretter] who tossed the first shovelful of dirt for the Richmond defenses, the dangerous nature of “Lombard Alley” [probably Locust Alley], and the post-war collapse of the upper floor of the Capitol building

National Tribune

8/17/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond;” part five of serial account. Describes the scene in Richmond in early to mid-1863. Mentions hedonistic activity at the Exchange, Ballard and Spotswood hotels; prostitution and gambling flourishing in Richmond around the Exchange Hotel; trying to get a pass out of Richmond from Gen. Winder; and subsequent trip to Staunton on the railroad

National Tribune 9/14/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part six of serialized account. Describes the feeling in Richmond at the time of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Pawnee Sunday (1861), a female Confederate spy at his boarding house, and other details of life at his boarding house.
National Tribune

9/21/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part seven of serialized account. Describes the tough economic conditions in Richmond in 1863 (with a nice description of the scene at the Old Market), the small-pox epidemic in Richmond (blames Longstreet’s men for bringing it to the city), an unreported assassination attempt on President Davis, and garroters in Richmond.

National Tribune 9/28/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part eight of serialized account. Describes the capture and execution of Timothy Webster, the Libby Prison escape (mentions prisoners being aided by Van Lew, and good feeling amongst the Unionsts toward her), a shooting of a prisoner at Libby, “the clerk” of Libby being involved in trading with the prisoners (Ross), and being shot at while near Locust Alley. St. Charles Hotel mentioned.
A Chatauqua Boy, in '61 and Afterward (1912), pp. 54-64. Parker, David B. (72nd NY), Parker relates that he was sent to the Van Lew house on April 3rd, 1865 to provide her protection. Van Lew invites him to dinner where he meets several "prominent Confederate officials", including Erasmus Ross, clerk at Libby Prison. Continues with post-war details of Van Lew's service as postmistress of Richmond.
Thomas McNiven recollections no date; highly dubious account of McNiven's part in the Van Lew spy ring - names prominent Confederates as agents

Page last updated on 07/10/2008