On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of volunteering with the Mosby Heritage Area Association for a fundraiser that included a tour of historic Waveland.
This beautiful house was home to John Augustine Washington, III, the great-great-nephew of George Washington who sold Mount Vernon to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. It has remained essentially unchanged since Washington’s time – which is striking.
I have been in many, many old homes, but this one is very unique because of the unaltered interior. It was really like taking a step back in time!
The history of Waveland began in 1727, when Lord Fairfax provided a large grant to Scottish Reverend Alexander Scott. Scott’s grandson built the two-story brick home he called Waveland.
George Washington’s great-great nephew, John Augustine Washington III, then purchased Waveland in 1859.
In the waning days of the Civil War, Colonel John S. Mosby, who is the model for my main character in NOBLE CAUSE and SHADES OF GRAY, often visited Waveland where he found the “amiable and patriotic lady” of the house and her “beautiful, graceful and refined daughters and nieces” most hospitable and entertaining.
According to Mosby’s surgeon Dr. Aristides Monteiro, Waveland was a “place of light and life, of music, laughter, beauty and bliss.”
He says in his book War Reminiscences: “Whenever Mosby was sad or disheartened by misfortunes to his command or his country; whenever he was depressed in spirits or any disaster cast its shadow of gloom across his pathway of duty, he would invariably visit the delightful precincts of Waveland and have there he dark foreboding of sad thoughts laughed out of him by the bright and cheerful magic of that charmed circle of lovey and lively young ladies.”
Some of the interesting parts of the property include:
Indoor bathrooms installed by the same plumbers as the White House.
John Augustine Washington’s enormous, walk-in, double-iron vault brought from Alexandria.
Built-in bookcases installed to accommodate the Washington family papers.
Unbelievable 360°views of wave-like rolling hills. (Absolutely beautiful)!
Typical rolling countryside of Virginia as seen from Waveland’s back porch.
John Augustine Washington III, enlisted in the Confederate cause and served as Lee’s Aide-de-Camp. He was killed at the age of 40 at Elkwater, WV on September 13, 1861.
His wife, Eleanor Love Seldon Washington, died in 1860 from childbirth.
The couple had seven children. After being orphaned, they were taken in by John’s brother.
I tried to envision in which room the oldest child, Louisa, read the following letter from Robert E. Lee.
Camp on Valley River
Sept. 16, 1861
My dear Miss Louisa,
With a heart filled with grief, I have to communicate the saddest tidings you have ever heard.
May ‘Our Father, Who is in Heaven’ enable you to hear it, for in his Inscrutable Providence, abounding in mercy and omnipotent in person, he has made you fatherless on earth.
Your dear father, in reconnoitering the enemy’s position yesterday, came within range of the fire of his pickets and was instantly killed. He fell in the cause to which he had devoted all his energies, and in which his noble heart was enlisted. My intimate association with him for some months had more fully disclosed to me his great worth than double as many years of ordinary intercourse would have been sufficient to reveal. We had shared the same tent in morning and evening as his earnest devotion to Almighty God elicited my grateful admiration. He is now happy in Heaven. I trust with her he so loved on earth. We ought not to wish them back.
May God, in His mercy, my dear child, sustain you, your sisters and brothers under this heavy affliction. My own grief is so great I will not afflict you further with it.