The Lincoln Connection

Following the Battle of Kernstown, on March 23, 1862, Stonewall Jackson’s tiny Valley District army switched to retreat mode, seeking some of the maneuvering and defensive advantages offered by the upper Shenandoah Valley. During this time the army’s cavalry screen, commanded by Colonel Turner Ashby, skirmished frequently with Nathaniel Banks’s army. Time, however, worked in Jackson’s favor. In the span of less than thirty days, Stonewall’s army grew in size from three to nearly six thousand men.

Turner Ashby on Tom Telegraph

A Sketch of Turner Ashby on his Favorite Horse Tom Telegraph

April 17, dawned bright and clear, with no sign of rain. Jackson’s small army had situated itself on the south side of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River on Rude’s Hill.  The prominence was titled after a Danish Lutheran minister named Anders Rudolph Rude. Situated on this high ground, about a mile south of Mount Jackson, the Rebels had dug in along the crest, endeavoring to secure themselves from the threat posed by General Banks’s army.

By 7:00 am on that April day, Union Cavalry were sweeping through Mount Jackson. Banks’s two infantry divisions were following closely behind. What they discovered upon entering the town, however, were “burning supplies and equipment the rebel army had left behind.”

Jackson had anticipated Banks’s plan and was ready for him. He ordered that anything of military value left behind in the town should be destroyed. He also required that the bridge over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River be burned in order to isolate Union troops, and keep them from entering the upper valley.

Continuing on through Mount Jackson, Union troopers made a rush for the crossing over the North Fork. Turner Ashby was caught in the act of trying to torch the bridge. There was a scuffle with Ashby and several of his men. Outnumbered, Union cavalry quickly dispatched him before he could complete his assignment. Failure to burn the bridge was a serious breach of strategy, placing Jackson’s army in significant jeopardy.

As the morning wore on, General Banks arrived and pushed his men across the captured bridge. He deployed his men in line of battle on both sides of the Valley Pike with the river at their backs. By mid-afternoon, with muskets at the ready and bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, “Union troops were pounding, under a hot sun, uphill through the muck toward Jackson’s camp at Rude’s Hill.” Soldiers remembered the occasion “as one of the more striking military events of the day.” When Banks’s men reached the heights, however, they discovered Jackson had refused battle and sent his legion packing south along the Valley Pike.

Lincoln Inn Map


Lincoln Inn was Located on the Valley Pike Below Sparta

Jackson’s army retreated throughout the day, passing through New Market and on to the small town of Sparta, or present day Mauzy. A couple of miles up the pike at Lacey Spring was an Inn owned by the Lincoln family. Stonewall and some of his staff, including mapmaker Jedediah Hotchkiss, decided they would seek shelter at the hostel and pass the night in comfort.


Site of the Lincoln Inn at Lacey Spring on the Old Valley Pike

There being no current vestige of the Lincoln Inn remaining in the town of Lacey Springs, the site is presently denoted by a state marker. The structure itself burned down in 1898. The inn had been run by a man by the name of David Lincoln. He had operated out of his home from 1833 until his death in 1849. At the time of the Civil War the establishment was being run by his widow, and, according to Jedediah Hotchkiss, a man named “Abe Lincoln.”

At dinner that evening, while pouring coffee for Stonewall Jackson, Mrs. Lincoln asked if he was related to “Gineril Jackson who used to stop here.” Apparently, President Andrew Jackson had reposed at the inn while sojourning between Washington and his home in Nashville, Tennessee. The town of Mount Jackson had, after all, been named in honor of President Jackson for just this reason.

Stonewall responded that he was “a Democrat and an admirer of ‘Old Hickory’”. He confessed that he did not know if he was related in any way to the President. As a point of curiosity, one would think General Jackson would have been inquisitive regarding the widow Lincoln and whether she was related to the current northern President. There is no record left by Hotchkiss regarding that conversation. Had she been asked; Mrs. Lincoln would have, undoubtedly, shown some embarrassment when she acknowledged that she was related to the northern President by marriage. Her deceased husband, David Lincoln, was the 16th President’s first cousin, once removed.

A short four miles away, as the crow flies, is the town of Edom. A parcel of land had been settled there in 1767 by “Virginia John” Lincoln. John, was born in Freehold, New Jersey, where he married Rebekah Flowers. The two of them parented nine children in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In 1768, he relocated the family to the Shenandoah Valley. Here he had purchased six hundred acres for two hundred and fifty pounds.


The Lincoln Farm in Edom, Virginia

The yellow house pictured above was built in 1800 by the second of Virginia John’s four sons, Jacob Lincoln. Jacob’s oldest son, Abraham, President Lincoln’s grandfather, built a home just down the road from his father’s. Though that house itself was torn down many years ago, Abraham’s youngest son, Thomas, was born there on January 5, 1778.

In 1781 Abraham Lincoln, in company with his wife and five children, moved to the Kentucky territory. Shortly after his arrival Abraham was ambushed by Indians while working on his farm and was killed. Thomas, himself, would have been slain had it not been for the actions of his older brother Mordecai. Thomas recovered from this childhood trauma and went on to marry Nancy Hanks. On Feb. 12, 1809, a son was born to the family whom they named Abraham to honor his grandfather.

On the same side of the road, north of the Jacob Lincoln house, at the top of the hill, is a small Lincoln family cemetery. Five generations of Lincoln’s lay at rest there, in addition to two slaves. The cemetery contains the final resting places of Virginia John, Jacob, and Jacob’s son Abraham.  Members of the Maupin and Pennybacker families are also buried there.


Lincoln Family Cemetery

The President shared much in common with his Virginia relatives during the war, including a familiar generational name with one of his Virginia cousins. Private Abraham B. Lincoln was a Rebel cavalryman who fought in Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry. Unlike his second cousin, though, he would survive the war and live to the ripe old age of 83. He would be buried at the Lacey Spring Cemetery not far from the site of the Lincoln Inn.

Cousin Abraham

Grave of Abraham Lincoln Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry

So, perhaps surprisingly, the Abraham Lincoln family had its geneses in Virginia in what would become the Confederacy. These roots ran deep. When civil war came to the nation each family member had to choose sides and they served their country, each in their own way. Once again, it was brother against brother, or in this case, cousin against cousin. The key is, we survived this war and became a nation united, once again. I believe if we can survive the divisions of family and of civil war, we can survive anything, even the divisive politics of our current day. Let us learn from our past that we night create a better future.


Gwynne, S. C. Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. New York. 1973

Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Make Me a Map of the Valley: The Civil war Journal of Stonewall Jackson’s Topographer. 1973

Official Records of the Civil War.

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