Civilian Day

Posted on November 13, 2012 by


We rightly celebrate veterans for their service to our country and for their sacrifices to defend our freedoms. But there are plenty of civilians who have also been impacted by wars. One of the strangest accounts is what happened to Wilmer McLean in the Civil War.

Take a listen: I Spy Minute for Tues Nov 13 2012. Or read the transcript, below…

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We rightly celebrate Veterans but there are plenty of civilians affected by war as well.

Take the case of Wilmer McLean. Bull Run, the first engagement of the Civil War happened on his farm in Manassas, Virginia.

General Beauregard commandeered McLean’s house as his headquarters. So naturally, the house came under fire, including a Union cannonball that fell through the kitchen-fireplace chimney—right in the middle of dinner.

Given that Manassas was a mere 25 miles from Washington DC, McLean began to think about moving.

But before he decided, the Second Battle of Bull Run (which was twice as big and twice as deadly) was fought a year later.

McLean packed up his family and moved 120 miles away to a quaint little town—which had recently changed its name to “Appomattox Court House.”

So the Civil War once again found Wilmer McLean when a messenger from Robert E Lee knocked on his door and asked to use his house for a meeting with General Grant.

While there’s no Most Unfortunate Civilian Medal, for his good humor, we here at I Spy salute Wilmer McLean who said, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”

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