Published on February 19, 2016

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Civil War Trails sign on the residents of Dayton and their experience during The Burning.

The Town of Dayton was the scene of many horrific events that characterized the war in the Shenandoah Valley.  This was especially true in the fall of 1864, during Phillip Sheridan’s Valley Campaign that is often referred to as “The Burning”.  Union General George A. Custer ordered the execution of a young man who had been “identified” as a “Bushwacker”, or Guerilla Soldier.  This was thought to be in retaliation for the death of Lt. John Meigs, one of Sheridan’s staff and eldest son of Union Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs.  Sheridan in addition to the actions of Custer ordered that all structures be burned within a five mile radius of the town.  It has been said that the town itself was spared by the pleading of Union Lt. Col. Thomas Wildes pleading with Sheridan to spare the town, since the citizenry had treated his soldiers with respect.

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36 Main Street
Dayton, VA 22821