Archives & Special Collections Gallery Exhibit




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Creation Date

Spring 2015


Artifact label:

“Not a thing was saved” -- Lieutenant H. D. McLellan

Letter from Lieutenant H.D. McLellan to “Binnie” McLellan, January 1862.

Union Lieutenant H.D. McLellan wrote home about the plundering of a Confederate commodore’s estate in Virginia, reporting that the commodore’s “family left in a hurry,” leaving a “large amount of Plate, the furniture of the best kind, ladies dresses of rich materials,” and “the Commodore’s uniforms,” to the discretion of the Union soldiers who made sure that “Not a thing was saved.” While plundering has been depicted as an example of northern aggression, this letter suggests pillaging may have had multiple purposes, done out of need for supplies and shelter as well as perhaps representing greed, and anger toward southern wealth and excess. McLellan also sheds light on southern civilians taking advantage of the chaos, as a piano was taken by a neighbor from the estate of the Confederate commodore.

-Kyle Cotchett