|John B Magruder|
Hampton, Virginia fell under the control of Union Brigadier General Benjamin Franklin Butler July 3rd 1861, but troops were called to protect Washington DC following the Union loss at First Bull Run. So they abandoned the town.
Reading an article in the New York Tribune, Confederate Colonel John Bankhead Magruder learned that Butler had planned to use the town as a place to house escaped slaves. Magruder ordered the town burned. Confederate Captain Jefferson Curle Phillips, a resident of Hampton carried out the order on August 7th 1861 along members of the local militia. They notified citizens that the town would be destroyed, and shortly had the whole place aflame. Only a few buildings survived, including the burnt walls of St John’s Church. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the town was nothing but, “a forest of blear-sided chimneys and brick houses tottering and the wind, scorched trees and heaps of smoldering ruins…. A more desolate sight cannot be imagined.”