Penn State

The Pennsylvania Civil War Project/Pennsylvanians in the Civil War

by Steve Maczuga, Population Research Institute   email: sam21 @pop.psu.edu


In July 1861, Federal troops rampaged through Fairfax Court House, Virginia, on a mission to suppress the Confederate forces at Manassas. A letter to the editor in the Richmond Times Dispatch described the destruction in and around Fairfax Court House before and after First Manassas: “…the house of Mr. Albert T. Willcoxon, a brick building recently erected and fitted up in handsome style, was entered by them, the window glass and sash almost entirely demolished, the doors torn from their hinges, the stair banister broken down and the furniture not removed split to pieces.” The 367-acre Willcoxon farm--situated @1 mile NE of Fairfax Court House--soon became a strategic camping ground and place of refuge for Union soldiers. The slave-holding family’s home figured prominently on an 1862 Union military defense map of the region. Across from the home a cavalry road was depicted as well. The house, situated on a crest of a hill, made it a strategic place from which to view the area to the courthouse across the open rolling farmland.
Destruction of the home took on a new form in 1862 and 1863 as visiting Union soldiers left their signatures, regiments, home towns, sayings, and pictographs on the walls of the house. The attic walls reveal the most legible and largest quantity of names, as the graffiti was never covered. Understandably, the Willcoxon family and 4 generations of descendants applied paint and later wallpaper on the first and second floor walls. The images revealed beneath those layers are often faint and sometimes impossible to read. Viewed as a collection, the more than 115 identified names of soldiers and messages from Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are truly a “diary on walls”.
Information Courtesy of: Andrea Loewenwarter, Historic Resources Specialist, Historic Blenheim


Informational Brochure

List of Soldiers who 'Signed the Walls'