Saturday, April 14, 2018

"Carry me home", The Death of Nathan W. Easterly

Southern Virginia and Tennessee Advocate, Abingdon, VA

Obituary of Nathan W. Easterly
July 31, 1862
On Friday, the 27th of June 1862, in one of the late battles near the city of Richmond, NATHAN W. son of Rev. C. EASTERLY, of Russell county, Va., was killed by being shot through the breast, only living a few minutes after receiving the fatal messenger, which time was spent in fervent prayer - his last words being, "carry me home."A marked change had been noticed by his comrades in arms for some time previous, which affords strong grounds of hope, that he is now in heaven.
Nathan volunteered and joined Capt. McElhaney's company, under the immortal Fulkerson, who fell very soon after Nathan. Nathan was with Fulkerson in the memorable retreat from Laurel Hill - also with him under Gen. Jackson, at Bath and Romey, where he caught cold and was confined by affliction in the hospital during which time he was visited by his father, who brought him home. When his father started to obtain leave of absence, Nathan said "do not get a discharge only get a sick furlough, the country needs my services, and I wish to return so soon as able." During his stay at home, he was married, March 20, 1862 to Miss Elizabeth E. Fugate, who now mourns his loss. Soon after this union was formed, he returned to his company, and was with Jackson in all the battles in the Valley, except Kearntown, and demeaned [sic] himself as a patriot and soldier, as an extract from a letter to his wife, by his Colonel (Williams) fully testifies: "It has been my pleasure to lead Nathan in several engagements, and I have no hesitancy in saying that I never have seen a more gallant and punctual soldier. His aimiability attracted the love of all who knew him, and his brave conduct whilst engaging the enemy, excited the admiration of all his commanders. His loss is deeply lamented by his commanders and companions."
The deceased was born Sept. 9th, 1840, and at the time of his death belonged to Company "C", 37th Regiment Va. Volunteers. Nathan W. Easterly was a young man of fine intellect, and fair education, noble, generous and brave. But he is gone, having died at his post, among the bravest of the brave, as a noble patriot, fighting the enemies of his country.
N. B. Greenville Banner please copy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The 37th Virginia Infantry Charges a Bridge

From Recollection of the War Between the States 1861-1865, by James W. Orr, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, 37th Virginia Infantry.

"We camped Saturday night about a mile north of Port Republic and on Sunday Morning, June 9th, 1862, while our regiment was in line for inspection, an order came to double quick to the bridge, it being the bridge across the Shenandoah River to the town of Port Republic, on the south side of the river. Gen. Fields, with his army down the river was shelling us but overshooting. General Jackson had spent the night in the town of Port Republic and the enemy had advanced a squad through the town with a piece of artillery and planted the gun at the south end of the bridge, and as we approached the bridge they fired two shots at our regiment, of grape or canister, but over shot us. When we arrived near the bridge, Gen Jackson came dashing through the bridge, raised his cap and with a wave of his cap ordered us to "CHARGE THE BRIDGE! CHARGE THE BRIDGE! CHARGE THE BRIDGE!" We rushed through the bridge and captured the gun and the gunners."

From the June 14th, 1862 letter of William R. Gilmer, Company I, 37th Virginia Infantry.

"Last Sunday the yankees completely surprised us they was fireing their cannons before we know they was about. We was on one side of the river and they yankees on the other they got to bridge and planted their cannon but the 37 charged the bridge and took the artilery and made them leave the bridge. "

From The War “Stonewall” Jackson His Campaigns and Battles The Regiment As I Saw Them By JAMES H. WOOD Captain Co. “D”, 37th Va. Infty.

"Passing on we reached the heights on the north side of the Shenandoah, overlooking Port Republic, located in the fork of the river, and a tributary stream entering it on the south side. On the following morning, June the 8th, being adjutant, I read to the regiment, then on Sunday morning inspection, an order for divine service to be held by the chaplains in their respective regiments. Before inspection had been finished two or three artillery shots in the direction of the village of Port Republic were heard. At this time, Capt. Henry Clinton Wood, who had gone to the village on a business errand, came in breathless haste and stated to our Colonel, Fulkerson, that the enemy were in possession of the bridge. This was a wooden structure spanning the main branch of the Shenandoah River from our side to the village. Without hesitation the regiment was formed and proceeded at double quick time through an intervening wheat field to the bridge. On reaching the top of the ridge we saw a cavalry force with two pieces of artillery in possession of the Port Republic end of the bridge. They used their artillery on us with damaging effect, killing two and wounding others. We soon reached the road leading to the bridge, and when within about a hundred yards of it met Jackson riding rapidly from the direction of the bridge. I was with my colonel at the head of the regiment and saw and heard what occurred and what was said. Jackson turned his horse and in his characteristic way, said, “Charge right through colonel, charge right through.” As he spoke he seized and swung his cap about his head, uttering a low cheer, adding, “Colonel, hold this place at all hazards.” He then turned his horse and rode swiftly toward Cross Keys, where the battle had already begun. We rushed on, and when near the mouth of the bridge the enemy fired one or both of his pieces that were planted at the other end, but the charges took effect in the sides of the bridge and did no injury to us. We captured the pieces and a number of prisoners and horses. No other troops than “The Regiment,” and no other commander than our colonel had any part in the capture of this bridge, artillery and prisoners. "

From an obituary of Judge Charles T. Duncan, written by R. A. Ayers.

"The late General W. B. Taliaferro once related to me an instance of his [Duncan's] courage at the battle of Port Republic...General Taliaferro said that his brigade was formed upon an elevation fronting the bridge, with the Thirty-seventh Virginia, Duncan's company, in the lead: that Jackson galloped up to him, pointed back and said: "General, take that battery at all hazards." Taliaferro at once ordered the Thirty-seventh Virginia to charge, riding with them to the bridge urging them on. Duncan led his men into the bridge with drawn sword, "going like lightning," and in an incredible short space of time emerged, throwing themselves upon the battery, which they captured. He said that Duncan was the first man through, and captured the first gun just as a charge of grape and canister was being rammed home, and that it was one of the bravenst acts he witnessed during the entire war..."

Monday, March 5, 2018

World War I Letters of Russell County, Feburary 14, 1919

The following letter originally appeared in the February 14th, 1919 issue of the Lebanon News:


Somewhere in France Dec. 5.

My dear Wife:

I will now answer your letter received a few minutes ago. You know I was glad to have another letter from you, for I have not heard from you for some little time. I have some spare time will write you again.

Would have written you sooner, but thought perhaps we would start for home soon.

Our Bn. was supposed to go across soon but got mixed up, so they said, and probably we will not get home now for some little time.

I am well now and getting along alright. We don't have much to do now since the war ended, so I spend the most of my time writing to you. If you get all the letters I write I know it will keep you busy reading them. Luther and I are still together yet and believe me, it is luck for us. We are at Fontenard now. Was over at Alton near Metz for a long while, not more than forty miles from there now. So you can just about look us up on the map.

We have been on the front since the first of September - under some heavy shell fire, but as luck was we got thru safe and sound.

I am lots better satisfied since the war has ceased. Got better hope of getting back home now. I hope to be home with you within the next two or three months. Can't [...] how it will be, you know we don't know anything only as it happens. Just here today and some where else tomorrow. You write and tell me if you all at home ever heard from Albert since the war ended. I have not seen or heard of him since I left Camp Lee. I'm afraid he will get started home before I do, but that's alright if he does, just so I get there too.

Luther has got one more of a bad cold but he's not serious. We very often get out to ourselves and talk of homefolks. You see that helps to pass the time off.

Listen, dear, I only wish you knew where I was now. Kindly a funny place. I spent the afternoon yesterday at Nancy. I would like to stop at that place for it is a pretty place alright. We are going to Paris real soon and you get I'm anxious for that trip.

Listen; you tell Mr. Candler that I want to shake hands with him for he wasn't in any war at all.

I am sending you and mother a little souvenire from France in remembrance of me. Hope they will be appreciated.

Tell Andy to write me, I wrote him some time ago, but have never heard from him yet. Hope to hear from him soon.

Had a letter from Coz. R. L. Johnson the other day but haven't gotten as many letters from you lately as I have been getting, but that isn't worrying me so much. All that I'm studying about now is when I will get started home. A month seems like a long time over here, but some parts of this country is alright but understand me, I'll take Home sweet Home any time.

So I will close now and go for supper. We have to walk about 12 miles a day for our meals.

Tell all the homefolks to write,
With much love to you,
From your loving Husband,
C. C. 1ST A. A. M. G. Bn.
A. E. F."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Another Old Photo

Another old photo of well-dressed Russell County children. At a guess, I would say roughly 1900-1910. Possibly taken at Mt. Olive Christian Church.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Influenza in Russell County, 1918-1919

The September 27, 1918 issue of the Lebanon News was filled with bad news. The deaths of three Russell County soldiers in France was reported. Whitley Thomas, an old Confederate soldier who, only a few years earlier lost a hand to dynamite while fishing, succumbed to a long time illness and old age. An infant only a few hours old died and was buried in Cleveland, Russell County.

In other news, a side of bacon was stolen from S. P. Elliott at Barnett. Carl Jessee and Eula Jackson eloped and got married in Bristol. A long list of War Savings Stamp buyers was printed, with E. R. Combs, E. S. Finney, and W. E. Campbell heading the list.

Normal, prosaic activities. One thing missing from the newspaper was any mention of the Spanish Influenza epidemic which began in the United States a few weeks earlier. Spreading rapidly across the United States, the epidemic first began appearing in Southwest Virginia in October. Unfortunately the four issues of the Lebanon News that were published in that month have all been lost, as well as the first two issues of November, 1918.

The November 15, 1918 issue of the News opened with the headline "THE GREAT WAR ENDS", printed in the largest font the paper owned. Good news, at last. However, further reading reveals signs of the epidemic: "MOTHER BURIED FRIDAY; DAUGHTER BURIED SUNDAY" was the headline for the the deaths of Hazel McCloud, 6 years old, and her unnamed mother. Elsewhere, 12 cases of the flu were reported at the home of J. A. Piles, 6 miles east of Lebanon. All were reported "getting along splendidly."

The editor wrote "Indications are at this writing that the disturbing and distressing epidemic will soon have run its course in this community. No new cases as far as I know have developed for the past several days, except in a very few cases, all are well on to recovery."

However, just a paragraph away he writes "Deaths occurring from the disease that have not heretofore been mentioned are as follows: Hobson Kiser, son of the widow J. F. Kiser, near Wilder, a young man in the prime of life; the baby girl of Rev. Tom Shook, of Carrie, and the little orphan girl of Mr. and Mrs. Carle Laforce, whose demise was mentioned in a previous issue of the News, and being the last and only member of the little family."

Just as the paper was going to press, the death of George Breeding, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Breeding" was reported. Influenza and pneumonia was the cause of death.

The positive attitude continued in the following weeks' issue. "Most of the pupils [of the Lebanon State School] have returned to school. And we hope the influenza is a thing of the past." Thomas Buckles, age 23, and Carl Whitt, also 23, both died of the flu. Charlie Davis Alderson, serving in the coastal artillery, survived the flu and returned home to recuperate.

Honaker High School closed again due to the flu, but re-opened a week later.

The November 29th issue follows up on the previously reported death of George Breeding, noting the death of two of his sisters, Frances and Hazel. The editor reports "We still have quite a few cases of "flu" in different neighborhoods of the county." Yet another young man, Harry Kegley, age 19, died of flu and pneumonia.

Although the War had ended, deaths were still being reported. Thomas B. Meade, of Drill, and Fayett Sexton, of Carterton were killed in action in France. Two more soldiers, Luther Harris and John Ball, were reported missing in action in France.

By December 6th, the epidemic was raging throughout Russell County. Again trying to be positive, the News wrote "As yet no one is seriously ill and the malady appears to be in a lighter form than when it swept the county a few weeks ago causing the death of possibly 150 people." The regular December court was cancelled on account of the flu. A week later schools and churches in Castlewood were reopened and sufferers were reported on the road to good health.

The final edition of the News for 1918 reports "Influenza has about disappeared from Lebanon again - most everybody who had it are about well and only one new case has developed."

The epidemic continued into 1919. On January 10th the editor writes "The influenza cases in Lebanon are too numerous for personal mention. So far as the localist is able to learn, there is no one seriously ill." The First National Bank in Lebanon was hard hit, with Hiram Vermillion, Turner Gilmer, Giles Dickenson, and V. B. Gilmer all laid low with the flu. Miss Fern Owens, of Coulwood, died after a long illness with the flu.

In Carterton, 10 cases were reported at the home of J. J. Meade. All but Mr. Meade were said to be better. Additional cases occurred at the home of Merida Chafin. Dr. S. C. Couch, a local physician was "looking after cases" in Carterton.

The next week the cases in Carterton were also "too numerous to mention." In Castlewood William Skeene, aged 75 succumbed. Mrs. George Sexton also died, but her husband and six children survived. Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Monk, as well as their little infant were ill; the baby died while the parents survived. The Methodist Revered Alexander S. Ulm decided the disease was "divine chastise a rebellious, disobedient, hypocritical Christian nation."

Although schools and societies continued to meet - the Literary Society of the Lebanon High School delivered a program in the auditorium featuring patriotic songs and recitations - deaths piled up. Mrs. James Warner and her three month old child died, as well as her brother Jay Carpenter. Flem Austin, another old Confederate soldier, John Hurd, and a child of Thomas Hurd died. The "little son" of Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Ireson died in Lebanon. Small children of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Campbell and Mr. and Mrs. James Warner died.

The next week, that of January 24th, another child of the Campbell's died. Northeast of Lebanon five deaths occurred in the Breeding family. Reverend Ulm committed to preach at Bascom, but refused to preach at Mt. Olive on account of the sickness. Near Hazel, the entire Tolbert Musick family was ill. Several Kisers were also close to death. In Gravel Lick the localist stated "The flu is raging in this community, almost every family has it, some very bad and others lighter. Wint Mercer and one of his little boys succumbed to it." Mercer's eldest son passed away, making three in that family. The wife of Tolbert Musick died, leaving five children between the ages of 2 and 8.

By Valentine's Day 1919, the Copper Ridge localist said "About all the flu patients are recovering, no new patients in this immediate neighborhood." Although the death count was falling, some families were still hard hit. H. J. Clark reported the death of his mother, his three sisters, and his wife.

The Honaker Herald failed to publish its issue for the week of February 28th due to influenza; Honaker was suffering another round of the flu. Cases persisted near Lebanon and other locations in Russell County. Moccasin reported eight new cases.

By March and April the flu appears to have disappeared, with few, if any, mentions in the local paper. The dreaded disease had claimed the lives of hundreds of Russell Countians. On April 18, 1919 the News published the final list of Russell County soldiers killed during the Great War. Twenty-eight names were listed.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

World War I Letters of Russell County, December 20, 1918

The following letter appears in the December 20th issue of the Lebanon News:


Somewhere in France, Nov. 1.

Mr. B. J. Fuller, Jr.,
Honaker, Va.
Dear Father:

This lonely evening will drop you a short note as I am still in the hospital. Am O. K., and the big war is over and maby I will return some time in the future. I am well, feeling fine and my wound is healing.

The weather is pretty cool, but I have a good bed and plenty to eat, but I don't know when I will get to leave the hospital, so you can tell all the kids I will be back some day and not to worry. Tell Bob to just wait patiently and I will give him a job. Tell Lucy Hello.

Ice is freezing over here at night and it is very cold, crops were good there and plenty of apples and chestnuts.

I sure would like to take Xmas with you all but not this time, don't guess. As my old pen is bad will close and write more next time, and tell you more when I come home.

As ever,

S. C. Fuller"