Inscription reads: "During the Civil War, the Daniel Bowman Mill occupied this site, grinding wheat brought here by Rockingham County farmers. The county was part of the prosperous agricultural region known as the "breadbasket of the Confederacy." It was no accident that the reaper was perfected in the Shenandoah Valley or that the largest flourmills in the world were constructed in Richmond to process Valley wheat harvests. The Shenandoah Valley's agricultural success brought devastation to the region, however, in the fall of 1864. Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan understood that the bounty of the Shenandoah Valley was a major source of life for the Confederacy. He convinced Gen. Ulysses S. Grant that neutralizing the Valley was an important military expedient."
Sheridan ordered his men to burn only barns and mills that contained grain or forage. Those that were empty were to be left alone, and those belonging to widows, single women, or orphans were to be spared. Between September 26 and October 8, Union soldiers destroyed barns, mills, and crops in the fields. Thousands of head of livestock were either slaughtered or driven away. Tanneries, woolen factories, sawmills, furnaces, and foundries were leveled. In Rockingham County, one of the ten most prosperous agricultural counties in America before the war, 35 mills were destroyed during this dark period including the Daniel Bowman Mill.
Sidebar: Shenandoah Valley fields for corn, wheat, and other grains, wheat became the dominant cash crop here. Mills were constructed on almost every stream to harness water power for grinding wheat and corn for local trade as well as for shipment around the world. The mills were also community gathering centers where news was exchanged and other business conducted.
Last Updated: 7/20/2011 2:58 PM