Many years ago John Cail of the Surry County Civil War Round Table and I found ourselves at the Brotherton Cabin on the Chickamauga National Battlefield in northern Georgia just south of the my father’s birthplace in Chattanooga, Tennessee. John found the sign for the his ancestor’s regiment, the 54th Virginia Infantry and just beside it I found the sign for my father’s ancestors in the 17th Tennessee. John and I did a double take as just like we were doing our ancestors fought beside each other at Chickamauga in September 1864.
Men from Patrick County served in the 54th Virginia Infantry. Company H with 64 men under the command of Sparrell H. Griffith enlisted on October 1, 1861. Joseph H. Scales, James R. Scales, Lewis A. Buckingham and Peter S. Banks led the company later in the war. This regiment made up of men mainly from Floyd County included at least 24 men from Patrick County.
The regiment fought future President James A. Garfield at Middle Creek on January 10, 1862. Griffith left with the reorganization in May 1862. At the Battle of Kelly’s Store in Southampton County in January 1863, the 54th fought alongside the 50th Virginia Infantry.
The 54th joined the Army of Tennessee fighting at Chickamauga in September 1863 and Missionary Ridge near Chattanooga in November. The Atlanta Campaign in 1864 occupied the regiment fighting at Resaca in May, Atlanta in July and Jonesboro in August under the command of Joseph Johnston and John Bell Hood.
John Bell Hood “played hell in Tennessee” the remainder of the year into 1865 with the 54th Virginia participating except for the disaster of Franklin in November. The 54th joined Nathan Bedford Forrest at Murfreesboro in December 1864. Johnston replaced Hood in January 1865. The 54th with 235 men moved towards North Carolina in February traveling through Augusta, Georgia to Charlotte. On March 19, 1865, the 54th fought its last battle at Bentonville, North Carolina losing four killed, 5 wounded and losing 30 prisoners.
Among the men with a connection to Patrick County was the brother of the most famous soldier from our county. John Dabney Stuart was an Assistant Surgeon in the 54th Virginia Infantry. He previously served as a Surgeon in the 42nd Virginia Infantry. Born In Patrick County in 1828 in Ararat, Virginia, at the Laurel Hill Farm and was the brother of J. E. B. Stuart. John went to Wytheville then Emory and Henry for schooling. In Floyd, he studied medicine under his brother-in-law, Nicholas Headen, and practiced medicine there and in Wythe County. He married Anne Elizabeth Kent of Wythe County. After the war, he farmed in Wythe County, where he died in 1877. He is buried in the town cemetery just across the street from the home of his other brother, William Alexander Stuart.
Knowing something about trying to raise money to preserve something with a Civil War connection, I befriended James Christman of Grayson County at the Battle of Saltville reenactment. Christman is well on his way to place a Virginia Monument at Chickamauga working with National Park Historian Jim Ogden and others. James will be at Stuart’s Birthplace the first weekend in October raising money for his cause. Below are a list of some of the men from Patrick County who served in the 54th Virginia Infantry Regiment. If you are related to these men or are interested in the war contact James and learn about his efforts to place a monument honoring men from Patrick County in the Civil War.
Blancet, James M. (1834-1918). Company G, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Boyd, Jacob C. Teamster, Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry. .
Griffith, Sparrell (1846-1920). Captain, Company H, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Hall, Jackson. Possibly In 54th Virginia Infantry. Killed at Chickamauga, September 13, 1863.
Haynes, Columbus (October 16,1839-May 21,1881). Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Haynes, Lafayette (1841-1881). Company B, 54th Virginia Infantry. POW, November 25, 1863, at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee.
Helms, Joseph. Company D, 54th Virginia Infantry.
King, John B. Possibly In Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Lovell, James K. Company D, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Martin, Alexander G. (1835-August 31, 1864). Sergeant, Company G, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Martin, Andrew J. Company E, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Ray, Wilkins P. Company B, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Rogers, James J. (1833-1923). Company F, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Scales, Joseph H. Captain, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Scott, Jehu. Company C, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Shelor, William F. Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Smith, Eli. Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Spence, Thomas Alderman. Company D, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Sumner, Joshua H. Company A, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Tatum, C. A. Company B, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Turner, Fleming (1832-1892). Company I, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Turner, Jefferson (May 22, 1829-May 2, 1862). Company H, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Wickham, Joseph R. Company A, 54th Virginia Infantry.
Visit the website to learn more about the project. http://63rdand54thvainf.com/home or contact James Christman at P.O. Box 1741, Galax, VA 24333
For further reading see G. L. Sherwood and Jeffrey C. Weaver’s The 54th Virginia Infantry printed by H. E. Howard out of Lynchburg in 1993.