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Pinstripe Press Blog: Author and Historian Michael Aubrecht
December 2, 2008
They did it too.
Robert Moore has an excellent post over on his blog about a rarely discussed incident in which Confederate troops took several Gettysburg civilians hostage. I have a similar story in my book "Historic Churches of Fredericksburg: Houses of the Holy" that presents the other side of detaining civilians. Here is an excerpt:

One of the most memorable highlights of Fredericksburg Baptist Church history, during the Civil War, took place months before any battle raged in its vicinity. This controversial event involved the seizure of several prominent civilians in the summer of 1862. Despite the initial impression, these retaliatory arrests were acceptable, as military protocol allowed the use of prisoners for exchanges early on in the war. As the conflict continued, the parole and subsequent release of POWs, especially members of the Confederate army, became prohibited as the popular belief was that the release of prisoners back onto the battlefield only prolonged the hostilities.

In July of 1862, a Union blockade of the surrounding area, and the intermittent occupation of the city by Federal forces, weighed heavily upon the lives of the citizens of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania. As tensions increased, General Pope ordered a subordinate captain to arrest several civilians from the town in hopes that it would secure the release of captured Unionists who had been taken to Richmond and possibly force the community into a submissive mode. Several men who were considered to be influential in the community were targeted. Among them was Fredericksburg Baptist's own beloved preacher, the Reverend William F. Broaddus.

Archibald Thomas Robertson paid tribute to the abiding strength and wisdom of the minister in Life and Letters of John Albert Broaddus when he wrote:

Dr. Wm. F. Broaddus was a minister of great power. He left a deep impress on religious life in Virginia and Kentucky. Like most of the Baptist ministers of his time, he had limited opportunities for education, yet he added great industry to his unusual gifts. He was the warm friend of ministerial education and for some time acted as agent for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He began preaching in Culpeper at the age of twenty in the early part of the century. He wrote an autobiography covering seven large manuscript volumes, but this was unfortunately burned with his house at Shelbyville, Ky. Once more he recorded his recollections, which were again destroyed in Fredericksburg when the town was captured by the Federal troops in 1862. In his closing years he again prepared brief reminiscences which have been preserved. Virginia Baptists and the whole South owe Dr. Wm. F. Broaddus a debt for his bold advocacy of the mission enterprise against the "Hardshell" or "Black Rock" element of the denomination, which was very strong in all Piedmont Virginia, the Valley and the Mountains.

According to the testimony of Lucy Ann Broaddus, an account of his forced incarceration stated:

On July 29, 1862, while walking along Main Street, Broaddus was arrested by the Federals and was taken to Old Capital Prison in Washington pending an exchange with Confederate prisoners. News traveled to the Broaddus home on that July day and Lucy and a slave, Hattie, came to bid farewell. In the words of Broaddus, the farewell was "a trial I would fain have escaped." For the next two months Lucy Ann sent packages of provisions to her husband. Eventually he was released and the welcoming was another tender scene.

It has been reported that the good reverend was a man who was widely known for his strong convictions, as well as his wonderful sense of humor. Several recollections of his time in prison paint the portrait of a man who was unwavering in his faith, regardless of his circumstances. It was also recorded that he had great fun at the expense of one of the Federal officers by insisting again and again that he, too, had no idea what the letter F in his name stood for. In actuality he had two Fs in his name: Dr. William Francis Ferguson Broaddus. He also claimed not to know his native county. The Union officer was reportedly frustrated to the point of giving up the notion of getting any straight answers from the elusive missionary.

Broaddus was one of nineteen hostages abducted in direct retaliation for the arrest of local Unionist citizens who had been captured by the Confederate army. An educated man and talented wordsmith, the preacher kept an account of his experiences in prison through a daily diary, which was published years later under the title The Prison Diary of William F. Broaddus. His entries for his initial seizure stated:

Tuesday, July 29, 1862. While walking today near the Exchange at the corner of Main [Caroline] and Commerce street in Fredericksburg, I was stopped by Captain Scott of the Federal Army and informed that by the order of General King, I was under arrest to be taken at once to General King's headquarters. I asked the privilege of taking leave of my family, but this was declared to be unmilitary. I, however, met with Willie Slaughter on the street, and requested him to go to my residence for my trunk, to be brought to General Patrick's headquarters at Farmer's Bank. Here I was kept about 30 minutes. During this half-hour my wife and Hattie came to take leave of me, a trial I would fain have escaped...

Arrived at the Lacy house, General King's headquarters. I was detained for more than an hour, and at 11:30 o'clock left on the cars for Aquia Creek, where I took the government boat for Washington. On the boat I met with Mr. and Mrs. William Gill and Mrs. Peyton Conway, on their way to Baltimore. This is fortunate for my comforts for besides giving me pleasure by their company; they permitted me to share their snack, which constituted the only refreshment I met with until I arrived at my prison. I found my fellow townsmen, C.C. Wellford, Thomas F. Knox, James McGuire, B.T. Gill and James H. Bradley, occupying one room. William Barton, who belonged to this mess, had been paroled and is in Baltimore. They had with them a Mr. Garnett of Spotsylvania County, a prisoner of war, who politely vacated his bunk and found a place in another room. By this means I secured the very great privilege of messing with my neighbors and friends.

Far from home, but still in the service of his Savior, Reverend Broaddus conducted Sunday services amidst the stockade of Federal prison. Among his comrades were several fellow members of the Fredericksburg Baptist Church. In August, Broaddus wrote as if the spirit of Saint Paul, who had also been imprisoned unjustly, filled him:

This is a beautiful morning! Oh how I long to be home. I find myself unconsciously conning a sermon. But I look around me and see nothing but dark walls and iron bars for my Sabbath temple. How long shall this cruel imprisonment last? Well perhaps I deserve it all for not having prized liberty as I ought to have done while I enjoyed it...We had a conference this morning as to the manner in which we shall spend the day. We are all called Christians, and feel disposed to honor the day that celebrates the resurrection of our Lord and Master. But we are surrounded with Federal deserters, guards, and detectives, and everything we say or do is closely watched.

One of the people whom Broaddus met while incarcerated was none other than the famous female Confederate spy, Ms. Belle Boyd. He remarked that she was "graceful" and that he could not help "admiring the spirit of patriotism, which seems to control her conduct, although much of romance is no doubt mixed with her patriotism."

Eventually, the preacher was granted a temporary parole pass to travel to the Confederate capital of Richmond in order to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Broaddus was successful in his mission, arranging for the release of twenty-five Unionists whose capture had initiated his entire ordeal. However, instead of immediately returning to the stronghold, the reverend took a detour to his hometown of Fredericksburg. He stopped at his beloved church to participate in a service and visit with members of his congregation until the early hours of the next morning. Then he surrendered himself to a Union soldier and requested to be taken back to the prison in Washington immediately. Instead of receiving the anticipated release for himself and his comrades, the pastor was sent back to his cell, where he waited for another two weeks before being set free.

(Quoted from Historic Churches of Fredericksburg: Houses of the Holy by Michael Aubrecht. The History Press. Copyright 2008.)


Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 5:08 PM EST
Updated: December 2, 2008 9:41 PM EST
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December 2, 2008 - 11:51 PM EST

Name: "Robert Moore"
Home Page: http://www.cenantua.wordpress.com

Michael,

W.F.F. Broaddus was a brother to the Andrew Broaddus who settled in Luray. One of Andrew Broaddus' sons, also named Andrew [actually Andrew Jackson Broaddus, 1840-1898], was mentioned in my post from yesterday. This second Andrew Broaddus was also a key participant of the 1881 reunions that took place between the Union Veterans of Carlisle, Pa. and the Confederate Veterans of Page County. In regard to the first Luray-Carlisle reunion in July 1881, A.J. Broaddus said...

Cowards bear malice -
It is the part of the brave to forgive,
and he, who deaf to his country's call, refused to bear his breast to the leaden storm of bullets,
is the last to smoke the calumet of peace."
 

Andrew Jackson Broaddus served as a 3rd lieutenant in Co. C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry which was specifically designated as Gen. Robert E. Lee's Scouts & Bodyguards.

December 3, 2008 - 12:00 AM EST

Name: "Robert Moore"
Home Page: http://www.cenantua.wordpress.com

Without looking back while typing this, did you mention that WFF Broaddus was in his 70s when taken?

Also, I forgot to mention, W.F.F. Broaddus' brother, Andrew (the father of Andrew J. Broaddus) was also a preacher. A family website has this about him...

"He was the youngest son of Thomas and Susannah Broaddus,
though born, reared, married, and living for several years in Virginia, and afterwards for many years in Missouri, yet returning toward the close of his life, from Kentucky, where he also resided several years, to Virginia, was called, in his later years in order to distinguish him from others of the same name. Andrew Broaddus of Kentucky. He was a man whose high character and admirable qualities commanded the respect of all who knew him, and won the love of all his connections and friends. He was cheerful, yet never frivolous, amiable and gentle yet firm and decided. He was a zealous, untiring, consecrated, intelligent, acceptable and successful Baptist preacher. It was a privilege of the writer to have him preach at his church, during the
late war and to spend several days in his company. His hopefulness, amiability, deep and earnest piety, and persuavive and evangelical preaching made an impression on all who heard and saw him that will never be effaced."

December 3, 2008 - 11:33 AM EST

Name: "Michael"

Thanks for the info Robert. The Broaddus family certainly has a storied legacy.

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