see the Graffiti House as it was when the Brandy Station
Foundation acquired it, click here.
Graffiti House is located at 19484 Brandy Road in the
eastern end of the town of Brandy Station, Virginia. The Brandy Road
(Rt. 762) runs parallel to the railroad tracks as they pass through the
town of Brandy Station, and the house is between the railroad tracks and
Route US 15/29. It was purchased by the Brandy Station Foundation in
Graffiti House is a two-story frame structure, believed to have been
built in 1858. It was built directly beside the railroad tracks,
suggesting that its function included some type of commercial aspect.
Proprietors of whatever business was likely here may have also resided
in the building. Local tradition holds that the building was used as a
hospital by both Union and Confederate forces.
The walls of the second floor contain inscriptions, drawings, messages,
and signatures of Civil War soldiers, hence the name “Graffiti
graffiti could have been made by soldiers recuperating in the hospital,
by other soldiers posted at Brandy Station, or by soldiers passing
through the town. Brandy Station was a strategic location and a
junction of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and of roads leading to
Kelly’s Ford and Beverly’s Ford on the Rappahannock River. Fleetwood
Hill provided high ground suitable for both observation and a defensive
Previous owners acknowledge that some of the graffiti has been
destroyed, and other pieces have been removed by parties unknown.
However, much of the graffiti still survives and these writings are
believed to be one of the most extensive collections of Civil War era
graffiti discovered in recent decades.
Research on the history of the structure is still needed. Courthouse
records indicate that the building has had at least twelve different
owners. Verification of its uses through time, including documentation
of its use during the Civil War has yet to be done. The building’s west
addition is recent, but an architectural analysis is also needed to
provide documentation of how the building itself has changed over the
years, and what architectural and archaeological evidence suggests about
the use and appearance of the building.
building was apparently owned by James Barbour during the Civil War.
Barbour’s home was the prominent structure known as Beauregard, which
still stands today about 1-½ miles to the north of Brandy station.
Barbour initially argued against secession, but when Lincoln’s inaugural
address failed to include certain concessions Lincoln cabinet members
had led Barbour to believe would be contained within the address,
Barbour ardently supported the withdrawal of Virginia from the Union.
After the First Battle of Manassas, fought July 21, 1861, Confederate
casualties were evacuated by train, and Brandy Station became a hospital
site. This is likely the first time that the Graffiti House was used as
a hospital. Barbour’s home was also used as a hospital, and one the
patients recovering their was Major Roberdeau Wheat, commander of the
Louisiana Tigers. Major Wheat requested that Barbour change the name of
his home to “Beauregard” in honor of Confederate General Pierre G. T.
Beauregard, who directed the Battle of First Manassas. Barbour served
on the staff of General Richard S. Ewell. During the most prominent of
the various battles fought at Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, Robert E.
Lee and Ewell observed part of the action, including a Federal cavalry
charge that almost made it to the house.
the Battle of Brandy Station the Federal cavalry division of David
McMurtrie Gregg arrived in the town of Brandy Station late on the
morning of June 9, 1863. His troopers formed up within view of the
Graffiti House and charged Fleetwood Hill, also visible through the
windows of the house. Some of the graffiti identified on the walls are
from soldiers known to have been wounded in that battle. While we
cannot be certain, there is a possibility that these troopers could have
recovered in the Graffiti House and it could have been in the aftermath
of the battle when these men scrawled their names upon the walls.
earliest date thus far deciphered (and still present on the Graffiti
House walls), is for mid-April of 1863. At that time Federal cavalry
crossed the Rappahannock River at Beverly’s Ford, to initiate the
Chancellorsville Campaign. A rain and hail storm, as well as
resistance from Confederate cavalryman in Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade, forced
the Federal force to withdraw, and one of Lee’ men is likely to be the
person who scrawled a brief account of the action by stating the “Yanks
house has been recently renovated, and is in sound condition. It is
also the headquarters of the Brandy Station Foundation.