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Prospect and the Closing Hours of the Civil War


Diamond Grove
Owners in succession: J. D. Crawley, R. J. Carter, Stafford, W. C. Chick, Cammilla Patterson.
(House was demolished in 1990)

    After the Battle of Sailor's Creek, the burning of High Bridge, and the stay in Farmville and Worsham the troops of the both the Union and the Confederacy were marching westward to the fateful community of Appomattox Court House.  When the Union troops passed through Prospect on April 6 and 7,  they stayed in and around Diamond Grove and the Methodist Church.
    Diamond Grove was built for Rev. James D. and Amanda Crawley by her father when they were married in 1844.  Rev. and Mrs. Crawley started and built the Prospect Methodist Church, where he served as lay pastor for many years.  (They are buried in the church cemetery.)
    Thomas W. Crawley, a Confederate soldier, had returned home to recover from his wounded knee.  He was hidden from Union troops in the lumbar room over the ice house.
    The first Union soldiers to arrive in Prospect had been drinking heavily and proceeded to ransack the Crawley home and grounds.  Mrs. Crawley herded her children up stairs to wait for what might happen next.  When General Grant and his staff rode up, they took possession of the house.  He reprimanded the rowdy soldiers for the depredation committed and sent them away.
    The first night the Crawleys went to bed hungry while the Unions troops feasted.  The next day General Grant became aware of the situation and saw to it that the family was fed during his remaining stay.  There was no more destruction of property but most of the food and stores were of no use.
    When Grant left Prospect, he marched on to Appomattox where he met General Lee at the surrender grounds.  The news came back to Prospect by a soldier on horseback yelling, "Lee has surrendered."  His news was met with sobs, laughter, and bitter tears.
    Times were harder than ever.  Ill-clothed, ill-fed, ill-tempered, disheartened, and hopeless soldiers straggled over the many country roads.  Whether the men wore blue or gray when they stopped at the Rev. Crawley's home, the Reverend welcomed them and they were looked after by his wife.
    Some years later a stranger came to Prospect by train looking for the home of Rev. James D. Crawley.  There was only one Crawley still living in the village, Charlie Crawley.  He showed the stranger the old home place.  He asked why the stranger had come.  The man had a Philadelphia newspaper clipping.  The article had been written by one of Grant's men who had stayed at a white house in the village of Prospect, somewhere in Virginia, not far from Appomattox.  He had written, "I cannot forget the kindly white-haired gentleman, a clergyman, who treated us not as enemies, but as friends.  I should like to go back some day and thank him."
    The author of the article had not come back, but a young man who had found the clipping was drawn to the place where had lived a gentle parson whose influence was felt even through this tiny scrap of paper.

    The story of the occupation of the home is retold in Fay Moorman's (a Crawley descendent) book My Heart Turns Back.
 

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--  thanks to Robert E. Taylor for the loan of his scrapbook on his family and Prospect

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created March, 2003
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