The Settles Anticipate War
Mosby's Confederacy and First Manassas Campaign
In the early morning hours of July 19, 1861, thousands of campfire lights burned in the camp of Col. Thomas J. Jackson's brigade which occupied the fields surrounding nearby Paris. Many thoughts must have raced through the minds of Abner and Mary Kyle Settle, who resided here at Mount Bleak. Those fires may have been a reminder that war was now imminent and perhaps it would leave them mourning the loss of one of their sons. The First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) was two days away.
Abner's oldest son, Dr. Thomas Settle, whose mother Isabella had died when he was very young, was now a member of Turner Ashby's militia troop and would certainly be off to war very soon. In December 1859, Thomas was present at the execution of abolitionist John Brown, who was captured during his ill-fated raid on Harper's Ferry. As a physician, he was called to feel for Brown's pulse and declare him legally dead before Brown was cut from the gallows. Thomas heard Brown's grim prediction that, "the sins of this guilty land can only be purged with blood." As the regimental surgeon for Ashby's 7th Virginia Cavalry as well as the 11th, 12th, and 13th Cavalries during his four years of service, Thomas would see more than his fair share of the blood which Brown foretold.
Thomas' brothers, especially Isaac and Abner, no doubt had dreams of adventure in the Confederate army. They both would serve under the command of Col. John S. Mosby. To the rest of the Settle children, war would perhaps remain a mystery; but in the coming four years they would witness and experience the deprivations and losses of their family and neighbors and learn that war was less than glorious.