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January 30, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

The Courthouse Burned: Carpetbaggers!


General George Stoneman, Courtesy Library of Congress

On March 2, 1869, the Editor of Richmond’s Whig printed a lengthy and strongly opinionated letter, signed under the pseudonym Lucius, in which the author bemoaned postwar politics and longed for the “free and unterrified constituency” of old.   Lucius expressed his concerns about the power of Northerners, particularly New Yorker Charles E. Zincke who “lit among us in the palmy days of the F. B. [Freedman’s Bureau (?)], but having feasted upon the rotten and reeking carcass of the sweet scented institution until it is now no more, he has turned his foul beak upon the helpless tax-payers of this county.” According to Lucius, Zincke applied to General Stoneman, head of the First Military District (June 2, 1868, to March 31, 1869), for the office of Buckingham County Clerk and aspired to represent Buckingham in the coming Legislature.

Lucius went on to praise Brigadier General George Stoneman, while expressing his deep concerns about rising Radicalism:

Your correspondent has had occasion as a private citizen to approve and commend the kind and conciliatory manner in which General Stoneman has tempered military rule to the shorn and oppressed people of a once free and prosperous State, by which conduct he has won the respect of our people generally, but he is not an applicant for office for himself or for anyone else, and asks no favors at the hands of our military rulers.

If the carpet-bagger alluded to dare deny any of the above statements attributed to him, they can be fully proven upon him by several gentlemen who listen to his harangue. Your correspondent feels a deep interest in the welfare of the community in which he lives, and whilst General Stoneman may be able to hold his nose in certain office seeking skunks creep around his office, he certainly hopes that their infliction “en permanence” may be spared us, as some of our own people are already becoming weak kneed and weak backed, under Radical pressure, and the stomachs of the rest are fast approaching nausea. Give us a little more dirt to eat, but spare us the skunks.


To learn more about Brigadier General George Stoneman and the post-war occupation of Virginia, consult Encyclopedia Virginia: “First Military District”

To read more of Lucius’ lengthy letter to the Editor of the Whig, click here:

The Courthouse Burned: Incendiaries!

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