Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 58

Did Molly Ride?
'Confederate Paul
Revere' Lives on

in Southwest
Virginia

Courtesy Wytheville MuseuMs

"The only difference between
Paul Revere and Molly Tynes was
a poet," is the way a store owner
from the area puts it. And whether
she rode alone or accompanied
through the night to deliver a
warning of the coming Union
soldiers, she remains an enduring
and appealing legend.
By Su Clauson-Wicker

Molly Tynes was a 26-year-old graduate of Hollins College, then called Valley Union Seminary,
when she made or didn't make her legendary ride.

In Virginia's Wythe and Tazewell counties, Molly Tynes is a Civil War
heroine, a brave young woman
who chased the night over five
mountains to warn Wytheville of a
Yankee raid. The story that passed
down through generations features a lovely young woman riding
a gray horse over a moonlit trail,
fording streams, dodging cougars
and tearing her dress as she raced
to Wytheville ahead of Union Col.
John Toland's troops.
Tynes arrived just in time to give
Wytheville citizens the advance
58 BlueRidgeCountry.com

warning they needed to fend off
Union destruction of the Virginia
& Tennessee Railroad, the lead
mines and the Saltville salt works,
the story goes. The ensuing Battle
of Wytheville was a Confederate
victory, all because of Molly Tynes.
A lovely story. But probably not
true. Or not entirely true. Accounts
of Molly Tynes' Paul Revere-like
ride contain gaps, ambiguities and
outright mistruths. The Austinville
lead mines and Saltville salt works,
for instance, weren't in immediate
jeopardy, being 21 miles southeast

and 45 miles west, respectively.
Molly's age has been reported
as 19, 20, 22 and 26. She was both
blonde and dark-haired. Her name
was spelled "Molly" or "Mollie,"
but her real name was Mary Elizabeth. We don't know if she left for
her 10-hour ride at night; some stories say it was at daybreak. Whenever Molly left, she didn't travel by
moonlight. On July 17, 1863, the
new moon was merely a thin crescent sky decoration.
Nor do we know if this unmarried lady was traveling alone-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016

Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - Contents
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2016 - 5
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