Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mrs. Judith Henry's Last Request

The Ruins Of The Henry House
 On Sunday July 21, 1861 Judith Henry was an 85 year old invalid living on a farm in Manassas Virginia. Her house sat on a hill that would come to be called Henry House Hill by the Union and Confederate Armies that fought there that day at the Battle of Bull Run. I have visited this hill and there is a majestic statue of Stonewall Jackson on horseback near the restored Henry House. The original house was destroyed in the battle. This is where Jackson earned his famous nickname "Stonewall". General Bernard E. Bee was trying to rally his men as he pointed toward Jackson with his sword. "There stands Jackson like a stone wall, rally around the Virginians". These were Bee's last words just before he was shot dead.  On that day Mrs. Henry's daughter Ellen, and a hired black servant girl were at the house when the battle began. Her son John was coming and going to check on his mother. It was decided to abandon the house and try to find shelter from the bullets. They retreated to a depression near the house that had a spring house. However as the battle became more intense they realized that they were still very much in danger. Mrs. Henry begged her son to move her back to the house so she could lie in her own bed. They returned to the house where both Union and Confederate soldiers were fighting. A Union soldier was shot and fell dead at Ellen Henry's feet. Mrs. Henry was placed in her bed. Confederate snipers, or sharpshooters as they were called, had taken over the house and Union artillery began shelling it in order to kill the snipers. Mrs. Henry's bed was blown apart. She was thrown to the floor with shrapnel wounds in her neck, side, and one foot was partly blown off. She died later that afternoon. Ellen was deafened by the concussion of the shells as she tried to hide in the fireplace chimney. John was unhurt but an old man years later said that after the battle he was walking among the dead and wounded on Henry House Hill when he came upon a man lying flat on his stomach as if he were dead. The man looked up at him and said "They've killed my mother".
Stonewall Jackson Monument

Restored Henry House
Judith Henry's grave

Henry graveyard




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