Like millions of Americans, I have been fascinated by the American Civil War era since I was a kid. I wrote a term paper about the U.S. Naval involvement in the War when I was a sophomore in high school. Reading Shelby Foote’s books about the Civil War is fun for me. And who can forget The Civil War, the documentary film by Ken Burns? I have been on nearly every Civil War battlefield east of the Mississippi, and a couple to the west. Until I moved to Northwest Arkansas I did not know there was a battle here, at Pea Ridge.
During my first visit to my grand-uncle James’ place in Virginia (1996), not only did I find out my family had been in Virginia since the 1600’s, I also learned that my second great-grandfather, along with several of his cousins, fought in the Civil War. My third great-grandfather fought in the War of 1812, and my fifth great-grandfather fought in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Through my research, I also believe that my fourth great-grandfather also fought in the Revolution. I am still digging through evidence on that. My cousin, Mary Ann, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the Confederacy, and the National Society of Colonial Dames, so I am also eligible to join these organizations.
The Civil War
My second great-grandfather enlisted in Company C, 4th Virginia Cavalry, which was formed in September, 1861, as a one year regiment. Company C was called The Madison Invincibles, consisting mostly of men from Madison County, Virginia. The unit served under General J. E. B. Stuart’s, F. Lee’s, Wickham’s, and Munford’s Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. The unit participated in the Battle of Williamsburg, the Seven Days’ Battles, and the Second Bull Run and Maryland campaigns. Later the unit was involved in the conflicts at Fredericksburg, Kelly’s Ford, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Upperville, Gettysburg, Bristoe, Mine Run, The Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, Spotsylvania, Wilson’s Wharf, Haw’s Shop, and Bethesda Church. The 4th went on to fight in the Shenandoah Valley with Early and around Appomattox. After cutting through the Federal lines at Appomattox, it was broken up. Only 2 members were present at the surrender. (Wikipedia) I have heard from some Civil War historians that many of the men enlisted during the Civil War, especially in the Cavalry, simply went home when they heard Lee had surrendered and did not participate in surrender ceremonies. General Lee requested of General Grant during their meeting at Appomattox, that he allow cavalrymen to retain their horses, as they were privately owned, not military issue. General Grant agreed.
I don’t know the exact sequence of events, but at some point my second great-grandfather was shot in the foot and returned home to recover. His regimental record shows that he was at home sick from November 26, 1861 through December, 1861. Another Company muster shows he enlisted July 24, 1861 at Leesburg, VA for twelve months. This muster roll shows him present during January and February, 1862. A third muster roll indicates that he enlisted March 1, 1863 at Madison (County) Courthouse, VA, and was present January and February 1864. And the last muster roll I have for him shows that he enlisted March 1, 1863 at Madison (County) Courthouse, VA for the duration of the War and shown present in April, 1864.
I recently learned from a cousin that my 2nd great-grandfather was a mail carrier for the Company, and he believes his mailbag is in the attic of his barn. Since it was 96 degrees outside when I last visited in late June, I did not force him to go look for it, but he promised he would when the weather cools. He does have his boots and canteen, which are pictured below. If you look closely at the right foot boot, you can see that it is patched. I assume this is where he was shot in the foot. He eventually lost part of his leg, and again, I assume that was due to his wound.
The War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War
I basically have little information at this point about the ancestors who fought in these wars. The only thing I know is that my third great-grandfather was given the “Hero of New Orleans” award by Andrew Jackson. The only picture I have on hand of that award, which is a beautiful pitcher, is very dark and difficult to see. I took a picture of it in 1996, but haven’t been able to find it. I hope to locate that pitcher and get a better picture of it in the near future.
4th Virginia Cavalry, Kenneth L. Stiles, ISBN 0-930919-17-3
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