Virginia’s Paul Revere


As was the case throughout the war, vastly outnumbered Southern forces would regularly dispatch their well-equipped opponents. Thanks to Molly Tynes, 50 Wytheville women, boys, girls and old men, augmented by 50 reserves sent from a nearby training camp, defeated nearly 2000 Northern invaders. These are Americans patriots, forming a citizens militia, we can all justly be proud of.

Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Post Office Box 328
Wilmington, NC 28402

"Molly Tynes: Heroine of the Battle of Wytheville:

"The Federal forces conceived the idea that by an attack and invasion of Wytheville (they would) thereby shut off the chief supply of lead from the lead mines of Wytheville, and the supply of salt from the salt mines at Saltville. This accomplished, the Confederates and Lee’s army would be paralyzed. On July 15, 1863, General Toland and Colonel Powell, in command of the 2nd Union Cavalry (of 1000 men) and the 34th Ohio Infantry, camped at "Rocky Dell" on the farm of Captain William E. Perry, about three miles east of Jeffersonville, now Tazewell, Virginia.

Molly (Mary Elizabeth) Tynes, age 26…was assisting her father in caring for her invalid mother at his place known as "Rocky Dell." Molly overheard a messenger for the Federals relate the plans of attack on Wytheville. Molly realized that the Wytheville area was defenseless because all the able-bodied men were away at the front lines of the Confederacy. As quickly as possible, Mr. Tynes sent the livestock and other valuables by a Negro man off to the mountains for safekeeping. Molly’s courage and patriotism rose to the occasion, and she immediately mounted her mare and set out to notify the people of the plans of the advance of the "Yankees." Little did Molly realize the danger of the long and lonely ride in front of her. It was late evening when she crossed Garden Mountain and entered Burkes Garden, stopping long enough at the residences to shout: "The Yankees are coming."

From Burkes Garden, Molly made her ascent up Garden Mountain which route took her through the wildest and most hazardous country in these parts. The dense forests were known to be inhabited by bear, panther, wolves and wildcats; the route she followed was little more than a path. With courage and determination, Molly arrived at Wytheville at daybreak—tired, scratched from head to foot and her clothes torn by the thick underbrush. The residents of Wytheville, consisting of women, boys, girls and men too old to serve in the Confederate army, took to arms and, in the battle that ensued, killed General Toland and severely wounded Colonel Powell. The Federal troops made a hasty retreat without accomplishing their objective, for which this area in particular, and the South in general, continue to hold in reverence the memory of Molly Tynes.

In later years Molly Tynes became the wife of Honorable W.B. Davidson, prominent in Southwest Virginia’s 19th century history.

(History of Bland County, Virginia, Bland County Centennial Corporation, 1961, pp. 254-255)