The Haynes-Beylor Murder

Posted on October 3, 2008 by


Picking up from where I left off with my last post

As I prepared to begin work on my thesis, I began sorting out my “findings” from the newspapers and Southern Unionist claims. Despite all that I already had, there was more to be learned. In fact, I exchanged e-mails with one person who made me aware of a story that I had yet to discover.

The fellow told me that two men in Page County, both Southern Unionists, were murdered. Not “formally executed” in the wake of a trial, but murdered. Not only that, but it disturbed me when he told me that these two men were in the middle of prayer when they were murdered. Oh, and also, a local minister was present in the group of men who had taken these two men from the jail. The minister did not partake in the murder, but he was present at the time.

I asked the person where he had heard this, and he cited two sources. The first was Sabres and Spurs: The First Rhode Island Cavalry in the Civil War, 1861-1865 (1876), by  Rev. Frederick Denison (the story can be found on pages 9495). The second source was a piece from Lt. Col. Franklin Sawyer (8th Ohio Infantry), found in the 17 July 1862 issue of the Newark Advocate [Ohio].

Remembering Haynes, Denison remarked that “he was not in harmony with the rebellion.” As he continued expressing his sentiments, he was eventually (according to Sawyer) “notified by the rebels not to return [to his home], but after the battle of Winchester [I took this as, perhaps, Kernstown], and our possession of the Valley, he did return. On our way to Fredericksburg, he entertained some of our officers and advised with them about his safety. Two days after we left, he was arrested.”

In fact, Haynes was arrested with another man, remembered simply as “Beylor.” Both were taken to the county jail in Luray. Within days of their arrival, they were found guilty of some unspecified crime  (I don’t think I am assuming too much by feeling rather confident that the charge was “treason”) and condemned to death [only now, in writing about this again, do I realize that I didn’t cite the source here, though I feel fairly certain it was Sawyer].

Nevertheless, according to Sawyer…

They were taken out of jail at midnight, under pretense of being sent to Richmond, marched about two miles into the woods, and there told that they were to be shot. They were in charge of five of the citizens of Luray, one of whom was a Baptist preacher, – Haynes asked permission to pray, and did so. His prayer so affecting that the hearts of two of the murderers failed, and one of them seeing this, stepped up and shot Haynes while on his knees and another one immediately shot Beylor. The bodies were left unburied until our army went up there. The families of these men are said to be in a most wretched condition. – Our Chaplain, Dr. Freeman [Lyman N. Freeman], visited Mrs. Haynes yesterday, and tells me that she has not left her bed since the murder of her husband was learned by her. This is only one instance out of hundreds, of cruelty of these rebels.

Denison’s version of events is not as descriptive but he remarked…

By [Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’] Jackson’s direction, Mr. Haynes was arrested and imprisoned in Luray. When General [James] Shields moved to occupy Luray [June 1862], he promised Mrs. Haynes and her daughter that Mr. Haynes should be released; but on reaching the place he found the rebels had killed the prisoner; an account of which transaction the General penned and forwarded to the afflicted family by our Quartermaster, C.A. Leonard [Charles A. Leonard]. But the crowning barbarity was that the rebels refused to give up the lifeless body. 

More on all of this later.