Our soldiers fought for their town in the Civil War, today, the town fights for its soldiers
The local men and women who have served our country in the military have valuable information to share and history to document that is important for future generations to observe and understand. Where scholarship and records are lacking, these soldiers and their stories are the lights that show us life as it was, our town as it was, throughout its history. In spite of Haymarket’s small size, many of its young people have left to serve as members of our country’s armed forces. Some photos remain, but many other details have been lost through the years.
Haymarket resident William Randolph “Ran” Smith’s journal, written from a southward campaign by the Confederate Infantry during the Civil War, offers just such a glimpse into Haymarket’s past that would otherwise be lost to history.
Ran Smith served as a member of the Prince William Rifles, Company F, of the 17th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Established in the Town of Haymarket on November 26, 1859, the company’s 52 men answered the Confederacy’s call to arms after Virginia seceded from the Union in April of 1861. The campaign took him from Centreville through Warrenton and then through and around the Confederate capital of Richmond. Entries from his diary share details of difficulties common to many wars, but his thoughts, as shown in the following excerpts, were constantly with his family and friends back in Haymarket. He valued their safety and security more than his own life, and this conviction gave him strength.
March 23rd, 1862
The people of Culpeper and Orange are not so kind or generous by half as those of Fauquier and Rappahannock. […]This may not be true of the inhabitants in general but is our experience. Sometimes we would go to find grand looking farmhouses and apply for a meal but a servant would come out and tell us they had nothing, which we knew was not true. These are the people for whom we peril our lives and undergo hardships and privations.
April 4th, 1862
Mr. Hulfish arrived in camp this afternoon from Haymarket; how the boys clustered around to hear the news from home. He returns tomorrow and everyone is busy writing letters home for they do not know, but this may be the last chance for a long time.
April 5, 1862
We were quite surprised on returning in the afternoon to hear that Mr. Hulfish had been arrested by order of Gen. Hill (our Brigadier). It seems that someone had reported that he was a spy and had come to camp to gather information, for the benefit of our enemies. Lieut. Carter got him off however toward night, and he is going to make an early start in the morning, for home. I don’t reckon he will visit our camp again soon. I hope he will arrive safe at home with our letters.
Mr. Hulfish, a treasured visitor to Ran’s camp with welcome news from home, did reach Haymarket in safety, though his house was one of those burned by Union troops in November of that same year. William Randolph Smith never saw his home again, nor was he returned to it in death; he was buried on the field where he fell in the Battle of Glendale, near Richmond. Other sons of the town who never returned home from war include Harry Welsh, who was killed as he parachuted into France during the Second World War, and Roger Mabe, who gave his life in the Vietnam conflict.
A friend from Ran’s company, Corporal Frederick Ebhardt, found Ran’s diary amongst his things. Ebhardt and Corporal George Pickett of the same company kept the diary safe through the remainder of the war. These two young men, both residents of Haymarket, had enlisted on the same day. Though they were themselves wounded later in the war, they brought it back—intact—to Haymarket where it was presented to Ran’s family.
Haymarket takes care of its own
Marine Sergeant Marcus Dandrea was serving his second deployment with the 2nd Radio Battalion in Sangin, Afghanistan. While on foot patrol, a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) left him critically wounded and without his legs. After a mountaintop helicopter evacuation, Sergeant Dandrea was treated at Camp Bastion/Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in England and Germany, and then at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda.
The local 84 Lumber partnered with Homes for Our Troops and other local businesses to build a new home in Haymarket for Sergeant Dandrea and his family. Materials and labor were all donated, a successful fundraiser was held to support Homes for Our Troops, and the home was provided to the Dandreas free of charge in honor of his extraordinary sacrifice.
Then, as now, Haymarket watches over its men and women in arms who, in turn, watch over their country.
NOTE: An article that John Toler wrote for Piedmont Lifestyle Publications (“Waterfall: The Village in the Valley of Peace,” May, 2011) details the area where Ran’s extended family—his brother’s children and grandchildren—lived well into the 20th century. Read it here.
The Haymarket Museum – Transcription Copy of the Diary of William Randolph Smith, Company F, 17th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, the “Prince William Rifles.” (Anyone interested in reading more should contact the Haymarket Museum; the diary was bound into the book Never More to Bound at the Bugle Sound by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. National Archives and Records Administration, Center for Electronic Records: “U.S. Military Personnel Who Died (Including Missing and Captured Declared Dead) as a result of the Vietnam conflict, 1957-1995.” Prince William County, Virginia World War II Enlistment Records