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Fanny W. Tinsley Memoirs

Identifier: Ms-1991-013

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a typescript memoir bearing the title "Mrs. S. G. Tinsley's War Experiences[,] From Original Manuscript: Being a Civilian's Account of the Battle of Mechanicsburg [i.e., Mechanicsville]." A note on the first page explains that the typescript was copied from the original manuscript, then owned by H. E. Matheny of Akron, Ohio. The 14-page, bound manuscript, dated January 6, 1912, provides Fanny W. Tinsley's eyewitness account of the Battle of Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862. Tinsley's story begins in May, 1862, as she explains why her family decided to remain in their home after the Confederate evacuation, and she describes the family's treatment by Union soldiers during the ensuing six-week occupation. She recalls the army's activities, including the use of a reconnaissance balloon (the "Intrepid") and the interactions between Union soldiers, her family, and enslaved workers. Later, Tinsley describes the family's flight from their home and between the lines of the two armies as Union forces fell back, and the family's eventual passage through the Confederate lines to the home of a neighbor. Following the battle, Tinsley concludes, the family moved to Richmond, where they remained for the remainder of the war, and the family's home at Mechanicsville was destroyed.


  • 1912


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Fanny W. Tinsley was likely Frances William Gaines Tinsley, the daughter of Dr. William F. and Janes Elizabeth Spindle Gaines. She was born in King William County, Virginia, on November 11, 1836, and in the 1850 federal census, she is listed among the children living in the Hanover, Virginia, home of her parents. On May 2, 1860, she married Seaton G. Tinsley (1836-1901) in Hanover County. The 1870 federal census shows the Tinsleys living and farming in Hanover County with three Tinsley children; by 1880, the family had added three more children, moved to Richmond, and Seaton Tinsley had taken a position as a tax collector. Fanny W. Tinsley died in Henrico County, Virginia, on January 27, 1921, and was buried in the city's Hollywood Cemetery.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Typescript memoir by Fanny W. Tinsley regarding her American Civil War experiences during the Union occupation of her Hanover County, Virginia neighborhood and the ensuing Battle of Mechanicsville.

Source of Acquisition

The Fanny W. Tinsley Memoirs were purchased by Special Collections and University Archives in 1991.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Fanny W. Tinsley Memoirs by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Fanny W. Tinsley Memoirs commenced and was completed in October, 2022.

Fanny W. Tinsley Memoirs, 1912
John M. Jackson
2022 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US