Thursday, January 12, 2023

My visit to a 'hole'-ly house at Sailor's Creek (Va.) battlefield

Jimmy Garnett at his historic house at the Sailor's Creek (Va.) battlefield.

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Meet 72-year-old Jimmy Garnett: cattle/chicken farmer; proud owner of a flip phone; storyteller; and man with his feet firmly planted in Virginia. He has only flown twice in a plane and rarely leaves the state. Says last movie he saw was “Smokey and The Bandit,” which came out in 1977. By my West Virginia University math that’s … ahh … a whole lotta years ago. Owns 4,000 acres, which includes a huge swath of the Sailor’s Creek battlefield, site of a massive Army of Northern Virginia defeat on April 6, 1865.

Battle evidence
What I find most interesting about Jimmy — well, besides his wry sense of humor — is that he lives in a house with 52 bullet holes from the battle. Now I didn’t count them all, but judging from a cursory inspection, that figure seems accurate. Garnett has owned the Lockett house since 1973, lived in it since 2009. Been in the family forever.

Inside the house, where wounded soldiers from both armies received treatment, Garnett shows me where blood once stained the floor in the front entryway. Sanding removed those stains, said to be mixed Yankee and Rebel blood. In another first-floor room, Garnett says, the original floor beneath a newer floor remains bloodstained.

In a limber chest from the battle in the living room, Garnett’s great uncle stored Civil War swords. Gave ‘em out to family members.

”So, how does it feel to own such a historic house?” I ask Garnett.

”Well, it’s paid for.”

I know the man for only five minutes and already like him.

Garnett at the strangely worded monument in his
front yard. Thanks, UDC. Click on image to enlarge.

Outside I inspect some of the bullet holes. “Someone asked me if that was the original siding on the house,” he tells me. “I said, ‘No, I drilled those bullet holes in there myself.’ “

Love the man.

Before park ranger Joshua Lindamood and I depart, we examine the strange wording on the United Daughters of the Confederacy monument in Garnett’s front yard. It was dedicated in 1928. “Here Lee fought his last battle. April 6, 1865,” it reads. “Ewell almost won a great victory but was overwhelmed by Sheridan.”


Until next time, Jimmy.

For more stories like this, read my book, “A Civil War Road Trip Of A Lifetime,” coming in late spring. 🙏

A spectacular view of the battlefield.

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