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The Civil War History of the Edinburg Mill
provided by A Heritage Enterprise-Your History Connection
The following story of how the Edinburg Mill was saved has been handed down from generation to generation. Nellie Grandstaff (Koontz) and Melvina Grandstaff (Callahan) were granddaughters of Major Grandstaff. As Sheridan’s men put to the torch to the mill, Nellie and Melvina raced to General Sheridan and begged him to spare the mill. They spoke of their grandfather who had served with Sheridan in the Mexican Wars and who lived in Edinburg. Actually the Major served with distinction in the War of 1812. Sheridan, perhaps touched with remembrance (for he is said to have respected the tactics of Major Grandstaff in the earlier war), gave the girls a note telling the soldiers to put out the fire. With the help of the townspeople, the Federals formed a bucket brigade, and only a large beam, some support beams, and siding were burned. Jokingly, Sheridan claimed his reward, asking the girls if they would name their little dog after him. Spiritedly, Nellie said she would not even name a dog after him! As a side note, rumor has it that the Grandstaff Bible has a less noble account of how the girls saved the Mill. There again, truth or fiction, you decide.


In 1848, “Major” George P. Grandstaff began building a gristmill at the south end of Edinburg that attracted attracted most of the farmers from the area. The Edinburg Mill took on a new importance with the Coming of the Civil War. The Shenandoah Valley was referred to as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” or “Granary of Virginia.” It was the richest agricultural region in Virginia, and its abundance supplied the Confederate cause. Edinburg Mill took its place in Valley lore on October 7, 1864 when General Philip Sheridan and his cavalry entered Edinburg. This was the time of "the burning", the campaign to destroy the Valley as a source of supply.


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