In early March 1865, Union Major General Wesley Merritt commandeered Old Hall as his headquarters during Major General Philip H. Sheridan's raid on Scottsville. According to "Scottsville on the James", Merritt ordered the Beal family to the basement. "Old lady," said General Merritt to the mistress of Old Hall, "we've come to starve you to death." Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Beal answered with spirit, "Then you'll have to pull up every sprig of cress salad in Gantt's low grounds. It's spring."