The Occoquan Historical Society
In Conjunction with the
Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration
Of the Civil War
The Occoquan Historical Society is following the lead of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission in developing a legacy project that will become part of our historical record today and for generations to come. As part of this project we are reaching out to our fellow OHS members and the broader community to gather information on Civil War veterans associated in some way with this area. These veterans could have lived in Occoquan or the surrounding district, been stationed along the Occoquan, or involved in skirmishes in Occoquan or in close proximity to town. We hopes that some of the descendants of these individuals will have diaries, oral histories, records or copies of photographs that they would be willing to share with us.
Listed below are some of the individuals and units we currently know were stationed along the Occoquan in 1861 and early 1862. Also listed are individuals and units involved in several significant skirmishes and raids in or around the Town of Occoquan.
If you have any information on individuals or units that served in our near Occoquan we would love to hear from you. Please email us at CWLegacy.
Five Civil War Engagements in Occoquan
Stationing of General Wade Hampton's Troops
CSA General Wade Hampton (then Colonel Hampton) was in command of troops consisting of artillery, cavalry, and infantry who, from the fall of 1861 until early March of 1862, were stationed along a 12 mile stretch of the Occoquan River from Wolf Run Shoals to the river's mouth. At the time of the CSA withdrawal from northern Virginia to the Rappahannock River, the 19th Georgia was camped in close proximity to Occoquan, and troops likely trained in the town. Hampton’s Legion was stationed east of town on the south bank of the Occoquan, where the Route 1 bridge crosses the Occoquan River today. West of town, up the Occoquan River, the 16th North Carolina was stationed at Wolf Run Shoals and the 14th Georgia at Davis Ford.
USS Stepping Stones
On December 12, 1861, the Union gunboat the USS Stepping Stones, a converted New York ferry boat,sailed into the Occoquan River and fired a shot from its howitzer over the Town. On February 22, 1862, the ship once again sailed into the Occoquan and engaged Confederate troops.
Skirmish of February 3, 1862
On February 3, 1862, Companies H & I of the 3rd Michigan Infantry led by Captain Stephen Lowing, on reconnaissance from Fort Lyon, fired on CSA troops in Occoquan. The Michigan troops on the north bank of the river surprised the Confederates training in the town's common area. Both sides exchanged shots across the river and several CSA troops were reportedly wounded in the exchange. A snowstorm ended the brief engagement.
Raid of December 18, 1862
There were two major raids in Occoquan in December of 1862. The first, led by Wade Hampton, was on December 18, 1862. Hampton commanded the cavalry units of the 1st and 2nd South Carolina, the 1st North Carolina, and the Phillips, Cobb, and Jefferson Davis Legion. This raid was successful, capturing Union supply wagons crossing the Occoquan River at the town. The Confederate troops encountered the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry on this raid.
Raid of December 27-28, 1862
The December 27-28, 1862, raid was larger, was led by CSA Major General Jeb Stuart, and continued on across the Occoquan River. Brigadier General Wade Hampton reported that he chased 200 of the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry from the streets of Occoquan on the evening of the 27th. Also assigned to the area was the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. CSA troops connected to the raid in the Occoquan area were the 5th Virginia Cavalry, the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, and the units under Hampton’s command mentioned in the account of the raid on December 18th.
Individuals and Units
Captain Stephen L. Lowing
Captain Stephen L. Lowing
3rd Michigan Infantry, CO. I
by Dolores Elder
Captain Stephen Lowing led Co. H & I of the 3rd Michigan Infantry on reconnaissance from Fort Lyon in northern Virginia, through Fairfax County, to the Occoquan River on February 3, 1862. Coming through the ravine on the north side of the Occoquan, Lowing and his men caught sight of CSA soldiers training in the public area of Occoquan, directly across the river. Shots were exchanged and some Union bullets hit local residences. This unplanned attack would have caught local residents and the Confederate soldiers totally unaware and placed them in grave danger.
Who was the man that led the Union soldiers that snowy winter day? Stephen Lowing set out from his family home in New York State in 1836 at the age of 19, walking to Michigan in the hopes of making his fortune. He found work in a lumber mill, and by 1850 owned 3 mills employing up to 40 men. His mill town had a store, post office, and boarding house. He became a lawyer and member of the state bar through examination. In 1860, just before the start of the Civil War, he had served for four years as sheriff of Ottawa County, Michigan.
If true, the following story told by Andrew J. Emlaw, and printed in a local Michigan newspaper tells much about the character of Captain Lowing. It shows a man who acts quickly if circumstances dictate. In 1852 [said Emlaw] Lowing entered into a contract with two brothers at Spring Lake, to deliver them a raft of logs cut from his own land; they had to advance money from time to time to defray the expenses of cutting. The brothers failed to advance the money, and when the raft reached Spring Lake, instead of delivering it to them, Lowing sold it to T.W. & N.H. White, also Spring Lake saw-mill men. Before Lowing had delivered the raft, the brothers put a writ of attachment in the hands of a constable named Samuel Stevens. Lowing heard of it, and secured a writ of replevin and placed it in the hands of another constable named Ward Boyce. A gang of men came with Stevens, armed with his writ of attachment, to take possession of the raft, and as they boarded it were met by the Lowing men and Boyce with the writ of replevin. Boyce commenced to read it to Stevens, but he would not listen. Hy Tipp, one of Lowing’s big lieutenants, took Stevens by the throat and compelled him to listen. This secured legal possession of the raft for Lowing. The brothers then reprieved the raft from Boyce through the County Sheriff. Lowing then secured a writ against the sheriff and put it the hands of the coroner. The sheriff reprieved from Boyce and the brother’s men undertook to take possession of the raft. Lowing was on hand with the coroner and his writ and reprieved from the sheriff. While the coroner was proceeding according to law, with all the dignity becoming his high and important office, Lowing soundly thrashed both the brothers and kicked one or two of their backers into the river. For a week the crew at White’s mill was under instructions to turn out day or night at three blasts of the whistle, while Lowing did picket duty at the raft. Early one morning the brothers and two men named Green quietly boarded the raft. Lowing discovered them, ran out upon the logs, and kicked one of the Greens, who was untying a line, into the river. He then took a brother in each hand and started for shore, only stopping occasionally long enough to bump their heads together. Green crawled out and struck at Lowing with a pike pole. The pole broke in the air and he went into the river again. Lowing won a complete victory, and the four beaten men started for home, promising they would never molest the raft again. Only a few nights later, however, the two determined brothers, one of the Greens, and John Shields boarded the raft with a yawl. They had made their line fast when Lowing put in an appearance with an ox gad about 8 feet in length. They all jumped into the yawl, but the rope held it just close enough to allow Lowing’s gad fill swing, and he thrashed them until they dropped under the seats and begged for mercy. They promised they would never return, and they never did.
Stephen wrote home on August 20, 1861, offering his opinion of some of the Union officers… “They (CSA) can bring two men in the field against our one, owing to peculiar advantage of roads, but when they get here the tables turn, but the fact is, and we need not deny it, our officers are the damndest set of fools and drunkards ever God let get together. If God intended to defeat the Northern Army he could not employ better means than putting such a body of men at the head of the army.”
Lowing was wounded in the legs at Fair Oaks Virginia on May 31, 1862, and never fully recovered. He served for some time as a recruiter, even after returning to duty.
After the Civil War Stephen Lowing became a prosecuting attorney for Ottawa County and practiced until deafness forced him into retirement. He then worked his farm until his death on November 4, 1891.
Source Credit: www.thirdmichigan.blogspot.com
Occoquan Resident, Redmond Selecman
August 24, 1844 - September 9, 1929
by Dolores Elder
According to Redmond Selecman Cole, author of The Selecman Family, Henry and his wife Margret arrived in Occoquan from Germany around 1752. Henry worked and perhaps managed the Occoquan iron foundry for John Ballendine. In 1794, he purchased from Henry Lee 157½ acres that would come to be known as Rolling Farm. Part of the old farm is home today to the Westminster retirement community in Lake Ridge. Almost all Selecmans in the United States are descended from this first Selecman family, Redmond being a fourth generation member.
Redmond enlisted in the Confederate Army, Co. A, 4th Virginia Cavalry, in March of 1862. He was a guest of the Union Army at Point Lookout Prison Camp in Maryland after being captured on October 9, 1864. The Confederate troops were routed at Toms Brook in the Shenandoah Valley on that October day. The 4th Virginia was part of CSA General Early’s troops in the Valley campaign and many Confederates were captured by Union forces.
Point Lookout was a severe prison site. It was a sea of tents only five feet above sea level on a 40 acre sandy plain. Built to hold 10,000 men, in 1864 15,500 prisoners sadly called this home. The area frequently flooded and rats became part of the daily fare. During the less than two year period in which the prison operated, over 3,500 men died from dysentery, typhoid fever, and smallpox.
Having lived a long life—85 years and the majority of it in Occoquan—Redmond passed away in Richmond, where his son Odie lived. He was laid to rest with his wife Virginia and daughter Hattie in the Meyers-Davis Cemetery located at 13698 Dabney Road, Woodbridge. Redmond was blessed to have survived the Civil War and his imprisonment at Point Lookout. His gravestone is legible and several descendants of those buried on Dabney Road lovingly contribute to the upkeep of the cemetery. I am sure Redmond would be proud that the ford bearing his surname, where so many soldiers crossed during the Civil War, is remembered with a historical marker. This marker is on Antietam Road near the Antietam Elementary School.