McClellan, Mosby and Rectortown Station

McClellan’s Demise, Mosby’s Raffle

On November 5, 1862, several weeks after a tainted victory at Antietam, the Army of the Potomac’s Commander-in-Chief Gen. George Brinton McClellan established his headquarters here. That same day President Abraham Lincoln wrote the orders relieving McClellan of command. On the snowy evening of November 7, Gen. C.P. Buckingham arrived at McClellan’s tent with Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Buckingham handed McClellan the dispatch. When he finished reading, McClellan declared, “General Burnside, you are now in command of the Army.” After bidding farewell to his troops in nearby Warrenton on Nov. 10, Gen. McClellan returned to civilian life. In 1864 he ran against Lincoln as the Democratic Party candidate for president.

Rectortown was also the site of a deadly raffle on November 6, 1864. Because Col. John S. Mosby’s men attributed the execution of seven of his Confederate rangers to Union Gen. George Custer, Mosby ordered the execution of an equal number of Federals, to be selected by lot from among 27 prisoners. Two drummer boys were among the prisoners, and one of them drew a fatal slip. When Mosby was informed of the circumstances he heeded the plea of a young artillery officer to allow a second drawing for a substitute. Ironically, the death lot was drawn by the officer who made the request. Ultimately, that officer and three others survived. Three were hanged.

The depot at this site was in use during the war and the building which houses farm equipment was one of Mosby’s headquarters. The stone building in front of you was used as a Federal prison and still has traces of graffiti drawn by prisoners.


General McClellan is relieved of his command at his Rectorstown headquarters by Gen. Burnside.  Drawing by A.R. Waud in Harper’s Weekly.

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