Hosting the Invader

Four decades after the Civil War, the June 1863 fire at Wrightsville still loomed in Confederate General John Brown Gordon's memory. "The Union Troops stationed at Wrightsville had," he wrote, "after their retreat across it, fired the bridge which I had hoped to secure . . . . I called on the citizens of Wrightsville for buckets and pails, but none were to be found. There was, however, no lack of buckets and pails a little later, when the town was on fire." Gordon's men could not save the bridge but did protect the home of Mary Rewalt, daughter of Wrightsville's chief burgess. Mary invited Gordon and some of his staff to breakfast at her house. Gordon inquired "as to whether her sympathies were with the Northern or Southern side . . . . " She replied, "You and your soldiers last night saved my home from burning, and I was unwilling that you should go away without some token of my appreciations. I must tell you, however, that, with my consent and approval, my husband is a soldier in the Union Army, and my constant prayer to Heaven is that our cause may triumph and the Union be saved."