The Shelton House - Mechancisville, Virginia

Home of the Shelton Family

Rural Plains, home of the Shelton family for nearly three centuries, stands on the northern bank of Totopotomoy Creek. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Henry married Sarah Shelton in 1754. Family tradition places the wedding ceremony in the first floor parlor located in the northwest corner of the house. The young couple soon moved a short distance away to Pine Slash, a small farm on a 300-acre tract of land.

The Shelton House received national attention in the spring of 1864 when Civil War armies clashed at Totopotomoy Creek as part of the Overland Campaign. For four days (May 29-June 1), parts of Union General Winfield Hancock's Second Corps occupied the plantation. Entrenchments criss-crossed the fields and incoming artillery shells riddled the historic house while the Shelton family huddled in the basement.

Few Civil War soldiers knew that the battle started on Henry's 128th birthday, and many mistook his nearby birthplace for his grave. Nevertheless, soldiers drew inspiration from the knowledge that they were fighting on ground where Patrick Henry had walked. "Halted for the night," a Pennsylvania soldier wrote in his diary, "near the tomb of the illustrious Patrick Henry." Another wrote more accurately that "we had a battle near the homestead of our old patriot and orator, Patrick Henry."

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