No Cause of Offence
A Virginia family of Union Loyalists Confronts the Civil War
One family’s incredible Civil War story
Despite the common image of a “Solid South,” many southerners stayed loyal to the Union during the Civil War and coexisted uneasily with their Confederate neighbors. No Cause of Offence is the story of how in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Samuel Hance Lewis’s family remained convinced of the Founding Fathers’ wisdom in establishing a single nation. A vast majority of Rockingham County neighbors disagreed. The Lewises adapted pragmatically and sought to give “no cause of offence by overt act or anything of the sort.” But neither did they hide their convictions, made clear even to Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson as he made their home his headquarters.
In 1862 the family fled across the Shenandoah River and watched the Battle of Port Republic swirl around their homes. Afterward, as their neighbors treated wounded Confederates, the Lewises tended to wounded Union soldiers. Halfway up the Blue Ridge, John F. Lewis, a Secession Convention delegate who refused to sign Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession, ran an iron furnace that kept dozens of Union Loyalists out of the Confederate army.
After the war the Lewises joined neither radical Republicans bent on revenge nor conservative former Confederates seeking to reestablish the old order. They backed compromises that ended Reconstruction and restored Virginia to its old place in the Union and rose to positions of high leadership. The era’s last family member’s efforts for compromise and moderation came to an end in 1905, with Lunsford Lewis’s defeat as Republican candidate for governor. Conservatives thereafter were little challenged and governed uninterrupted until the civil rights movement returned Republicans to the statehouse in 1970.
“Lewis Fisher has latched onto a very good story. This book helps paint a modern and more broadly based understanding of what happened in Virginia in the 1860s.”
— Richard Lowe, author of Republicans and Reconstruction in Virginia, 1856–70
“No Cause of Offence rescues from obscurity an interesting and important set of Virginia political leaders and shines a needed spotlight on Virginians who remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War and became influential afterward.”
— Brent Tarter, founding editor of the Library of Virginias Dictionary of Virginia Biography and cofounder of the Virginia Forum
“Thorough, creative research has uncovered a rich array of evidence of the precarious ordeal of this Shenandoah Valley family of Unionists during the Civil War, making this volume an important contribution to the history of the period.”
— Robert K. Krick, author of Conquering the Valley: Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic