— Hunter's Raid —
On May 26, 1864, Union Gen. David Hunter marched south from Cedar Creek near Winchester to drive out Confederate forces, lay waste to the Shenandoah Valley, and destroy transportation facilities at Lynchburg. His raid was part of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's strategy to attack Confederates simultaneously throughout Virginia. After defeating Gen. William E. "Grumble" Jones at Piedmont on June 5, Hunter marched to Lexington, burned Virginia Military Institute, and headed to Lynchburg. There, on June 17-18, Gen. Jubal A. Early repulsed Hunter and pursued him to West Virginia. Early then turned north in July to threaten Washington.
Union Gen. William W. Averell led his cavalry brigade in advance of Hunter's army as it moved south from Lexington, pursuing Confederate Gen. John McCausland's brigade as it retreated. McCausland burned the bridge over the James River at Buchanan to prevent Averell from following, but the Federals crossed the river at a ford south of The Anchorage on June 13. Averell's men fired on the house, apparently believing that the civilians scrambling for shelter in the cellar were Confederate troops. They ceased firing when Averell learned the truth.
While Averell's men occupied Buchanan, the general established his headquarters on the lawn of the Presbyterian manse across the road from The Anchorage. The Whittles' cook prepared food for the officers, including game brought to the house each morning, before Averell's and Hunter's forces departed on June15, crossing Blue Ridge into Bedford County and heading to Lynchburg. Years later, Roberta Whittle, who was seven years old at the time of the occupation, recalled that Federal troops "invaded the premises and uprooted the vegetables."
"[Buchanan residents] protested against the burning of the bridge, but McCausland, with his characteristic recklessness, persisted ?, involving eleven private dwellings in the conflagration, ? [which] was stopped by the friendly efforts of our troops, who extinguished the flames."
— Gen. David Hunter, August 8, 1864
William Conway Whittle (1805-1878), whose primary residence was in Norfolk, bought this substantialbrick house in 1848. An officer in the U.S. Navy, he named it The Anchorage and, after the war, lived here until his death. He resigned at the start of the war and joined the Confederate navy as a captain, commanding the port of New Orleans when the city capitulated on April 25, 1862. Whittle's son, William "Conway" Whittle Jr., was the executive officer on CSS Shenandoah
, the last Confederate ship to surrender.