Killing Yankees in the Hog Pen

by | Sep 12, 2015 | Confederate affiliation, Lenoir

My great-great-grandfather, James B. Vause, served with the “Lenoir Braves.” He was captured at Hatteras Island and held as a prisoner of war at Fort Warren, Massachusetts, until his release in a prisoner exchange in 1862. His brother, Robert B. Vause, was killed at Fort Anderson, near Wilmington, N.C. on Feb. 18, 1865. The Battle of Wyse Fork was fought on the Vause family land. As a matter of fact, the most intense fighting occurred in front of the house built by Robert B. Vause. A major Confederate encampment with extensive earthworks existed on land that became James B. Vause’s farm after the war. These earthworks still exist, and ownership has passed from the Vause family to the Historical Preservation Group through donation and purchase. According to stories told in our family, shooting and hollering could be heard all day, with skirmishes being fought all around. In the days following the battle, Union troops rampaged through the community, killing livestock, stealing valuables, destroying property, and assaulting women. Our female ancestors took hams from the smoke house and buried them, so that they’d have food to feed their children. The Union soldiers stole or destroyed everything. James B. Vause returned home to this devastation and ruin traumatized by his experiences in war, and especially by the loss of his brother. According to family lore, he was “not right in the head” after the war. During Reconstruction, this area was still plagued by violence caused by marauding bands of Yankees and ex-slaves. One day a couple of Union soldiers attempted to steal a hog from James. He shot them both dead in the hog pen and buried their bodies on his property. Allegedly, he was said to have killed a number of Yankees who wandered onto his land. Although the exact number is unknown, there still exists today a little hill in the field where, it’s always been said, “the bodies are buried.”

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