“The Burning” was the period in 1864, where the Union was committed to burning the farms, mills and other buildings associated with the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” in order to weaken General Robert Edward Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On October 4th, 1864, the ninth day of the burning, Union troops attempted to burn down Abigail Lincoln’s home. Abigail told the troops that she was the cousin of the President, and the troops refrained from their order to destroy her home.
That day many women and children, living within Dayton, pleaded with Union Lieutenant Colonel Thomas F. Wildes to not burn down their down. Lieutenant Colonel Wildes defied General Philip Henry Sheridan’s burn order, with the risk of a court m-martial. General Sheridan, after hearing his subordinate’s concerns, rescinded the burn order.
Next to a World War I cannon, in downtown Dayton, is a plague dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas F. Wildes.