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Thursday, February 26, 2015

A.B. West’s Last Day, the Third Battle of Winchester

Entrance to the Battlefield
Little did Alex West know when the bugle sounded the wake-up call on September 19, 1864, that this would be his last day on Earth. The day was likely a warm summer day in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia near the city of Winchester.  Company K of Bryan Grimes’ Brigade of Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes’ Division was camped somewhere in the outskirts of the city of Winchester.

The Third Batty of Winchester is known as the Battle of Opequon.  Opequon is an unincorporated community along Opequon Creek in Frederick County, Virginia.  It is located on Cedar Creek Grade (VA 622) at Miller Road (VA 620) and is also known as Kernstown, Virginia.

The battle, which was fought on September 19, 1864, was the bloodiest battle ever fought in the Shenandoah Valley.  Union Gen. Sheridan lost 12 percent of his army with about 5,000 of his 39,000 soldiers killed, wounded, and missing.  Confederate Gen. Early suffered approximately 3,600 casualties casualties which represented 25 percent of his army.

Company K of the 53rd North Carolina Regiment, known as “the Wilkes boys,” was part of Lee’s Army of Virginia, which was part of Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s Army of the Valley.  Early’s Army of the Valley consisted of many seasoned veterans from Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia.  Company K of the 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment (the Wilkes Boys) was also part part of Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes’ Division and part of Brigadier Gen. Bryan Grimes’ Brigade (formerly the deceased Brigadier Gen. Junius Daniel’s Brigade). 

Confederate officer, Lt. Gen. Early, had an estimated 12,000 soldiers.  His counterpart, Union officer, Maj. Gen. Phillip Sheridan, had about 40,000.  Both armies had sufficient ammunition, but the Union forces had more cannons, more horses, and more artillerymen.

Red Bud Run
On that fateful morning of September 19, reveille sounded in the Confederate Army camp at 1 a.m.  By 4:30 a.m., Sheridan’s forces were advancing.  At daybreak the first shot was fired when General Ramseur’s North Carolinians fired on Captain Hull’s New York Cavalry.

Heavy fighting took place that day in areas known as the West Woods, the First Woods, the Second Woods, the Middle Field, and Red Bud Run.  A Union soldier commented that the battle at Middle Field “was perfectly terrible but the forces in our front gave way.”  The battle ended at sundown when the divisions of Ramseur, Rodes, and Gordon fell back to positions near Winchester.  Maj. Gen. Rodes was killed that day.  By nightfall the Union Army had taken the city of Winchester.  

Many who died on this historic this day were buried where they fell in battle.  Such was likely the fate of my second great grandfather, Alexander Balus West.

In October 2104, my sister, brother-in-law, husband, and I spent a day on the battleground of the Third Battle of Winchester.  Unlike Gettysburg, the battlefield is not resplendent with monuments and statues.  It is peaceful, serene, and non-commercial in nature.  It has a rustic, natural beauty with an appropriate number of signs to mark locations.  Many of the paths are unpaved, and cars not are allowed on the battlefield.

Vicinity of the West Woods
Like our visit to Gettysburg, this visit was also moving.  I’ve always wanted to see where my 2nd great grandfather died.  As I walked over the hallowed grounds, I tried to imagine where he might have fallen, mortally wounded.  I know that he was part of Rodes’ Division, Grimes’ Brigade, the 2nd Battalion, and the 53rd Regiment (North Carolina Infantry).   Maps of the Battle of Winchester that may be found on the Internet indicate that Grimes’ Brigade in Rodes’ Division was on the southern flank near what is now US Interstate 81.  Most of the heavy fighting occurred that day in the Middle Field, the Second Woods, West Woods, and Red Bud Run.  His brigade was apparently located in that southern part of the battlefield labeled West Woods.  In retreat they moved westward toward Winchester.  I can only assume that he was killed on that southern-most part of the battlefield and possibly during the retreat to Winchester.  In fact the location of his death and burial may presently be located under what is now Interstate 81.  
Much of the battlefield at Winchester has been significantly degraded or destroyed by expanding urban development in and around Winchester.  I found it quite sad that the likely area in which my second great grandfather died and was buried may now be covered by that urban sprawl and the interstate highway.  
Preservation Marker
Residential and business development and highway construction continue to pose threats to the preservation of the original battlefield.  The Civil War Trust has preserved 222 acres of the 567-acre battlefield.  In 2009, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation along with the Civil War Trust and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, and the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Foundation purchased 209 acres of additional land.  The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation worked toward the restoration of the battlefield for the 150th Anniversary of the battle in September 2014.
Since I was able to be there and walk the battlefield, I left the battlefield with some degree of satisfaction. However, I am still left with a desire to know where he was buried, but I am certain that desire will remain unfulfilled.   
SEPTEMBER 19, 1864
                                      Red:                      Confederate Lines
                                      Brown:                 Confederate Retreat Lines
                                      Blue:                     Union Lines

                                                      Clip on the maps to enlarge them.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1864

Grimes Brigade as part of Rodes’ Division retreated to the west and then southwest toward what is now US Interstate 81 and Winchester.  The brigade may have been in any of the areas marked with the red lines.


·        Battle of Third Winchester Summary & Facts (See featured articles.):

·        Civil War Trust, Saving America’s Civil War Battlefields, “The Battle of Third Winchester,”

·        Grimes Biography from the Dictionary of North Carolina:

·        Maps of Third Winchester, Virginia (1864), CWPT Third Winchester Battlefield Tour Map,

·        Third Battle of Winchester – Wikipedia:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Isaac West, A Reply to Kellea

This post is in response to the comment on February 18, 2015, that Kellea made on my post, “Small Pieces of the Puzzle Contribute to the Whole—Alexander West (c1730),” dated May 1, 2014.

Kellea indicated that she believes that the daughter of Isaac West, Phereby West, who married James Reece, was her ancestor.  According to Kellea’s comment, Phereby West and James Reece were married in Lincoln County, North Carolina, for which a record may be found in  James died in 1837 in Todd County, Kentucky, and named Phereby in his will.  According to the 1860 Mortality Schedule, Phereby died in Humphreys County, Tennessee.

Since I wanted to share some of my research with Kellea regarding the Isaac West who may have been my 6th great uncle, I indicated that I would provide my comments in a new blog post.  Therefore, I am providing my response in this post.

Even though, I have never encountered him in my research, I have no doubt that Kellea is correct regarding her Isaac West and his daughter, Phereby.   However, as I have conducted research on the West family and the possibility that Isaac (1745-1814) and my Alexander West were brothers, I’ve found numerous Isaac Wests.  I do not believe that Kellea’s Isaac West is the same one who may have been the brother of my Alexander West.  

The Isaac West whom I believe to be my 6th great uncle (1745-1814) was married to Susanna Anderson.  He did have a daughter named Phoebe West (1770 SC-1868 Greenville, SC) who married Isaac Green (1762 Tryon, NC-1831 Greenville, SC).  I have researched in the Old Tryon Genealogical Society Library in Forest City, Rutherford County, North Carolina, attempting to find evidence of the John West who may have been the brother of my Alexander and also the brother of Isaac.

In the Old Tryon County Genealogical Society Library, in April 2014, I found an Isaac West who was in court records and land transaction records in Tryon County, North Carolina, in 1771, 1778, and 1779.   Tryon was divided into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in 1779. An Isaac West is found in Lincoln (which may have been the same area in Tryon prior to the division of the county) in 1789, 1790, 1792, 1795, and 1797.  I was never able to determine who this or these Isaac Wests were.  They could have been the same man or different men by the name of Isaac West.  Since Killea’s ancestors, Phereby West and James Reece, were married in Lincoln County, North Carolina, one of these Isaac Wests could have been the father of Phereby.

The Isaac West who married Susanna Anderson was born in Orange County and had lived there and in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  He moved from North Carolina to South Carolina prior to the birth of their first child who was born in 1768.  The following children were born in South Carolina: Catherine, b 1768; Nancy, b c1769; Phoebe, 1770-1868; Susan, 1773-1841; Solomon, d 1864; Isaac, 1776-1864; John, 1776-a1827; Abner, c 1780-p1833; Robert Anderson, 1790-1856; Elizabeth, c1794-a1840; Sarah; and Mary.

A South Carolina deed of sale documents that an Isaac West purchased land on Richmond Creek in Newberry District, South Carolina, in 1778. In 1804 an Isaac West sold land in Newberry District, South Carolina, to his son-in-law, Isaac Green, who was the husband of his daughter, Phoebe West. The sale/deed was witnessed by Isaac’s son, John West, and Samuel Walker, who was John’s father-in-law.  John West was married to Sarah Walker.  After the sale of his property, Isaac and Susanna Anderson West moved to Dickson and Williamson Counties in Tennessee.   His wife Susanna died in 1810 in Dickson County, Tennessee.  After her death, he married a person known only by the name of Mary and had one child, George Washington West.  Isaac died in 1814 in either Dickson County, Tennessee, or in Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois, where he was visiting. 
Green Plot and Tombstone
Isaac Green and Wife, Phoebe West
White Oak Baptist Church
Greenville, SC
Courtesy Find a Grave
Isaac and Susanna Anderson West’s daughter, Phoebe West and her husband Isaac Green are buried in the White Oak Baptist Church Cemetery in Greenville, South Carolina.

In an 1859 issue of De Bow’s Review, an article was published about Isaac West and his daughter, Phoebe.  The article describes Isaac as being an active participator in the Revolutionary War and living about one mile from King’s Mountain where that famous battle took place.  The article also describes Phoebe witnessing a tory strike her father on the head with a sword in their home.  I have not seen this article which circulates in family trees on the Internet and cannot substantiate it.  (De Bow’s Review, Volume XXVII, 1859, pp. 692-693)


It All Hinges on John West and Mary Madden!

Yes, it all hinges on John West and Mary Madden being the most recent common ancestor of Kevin and me.  In order to protect his privacy, Kevin’s last name will not be used.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I am searching for the parents of my 5th great grandfather, Alexander West, who was born about 1730.  The preponderance of circumstantial evidence indicates that Alexander’s parents were John West and Mary Madden with his brothers being Solomon West, who married Isabella Boyd, and Isaac West, who married Susanna Anderson.

Recently, Kevin found this blog and contacted me regarding his ancestors, Isaac West and Susanna Anderson.  Of course I was most excited to communicate with Kevin, who graciously sent me information regarding his direct line from Isaac West and Susanna Anderson.  In addition, he provided additional information regarding the letter by E. C. Page that I published in my post of Dec. 3, 2014.

Kevin indicated that he, too, believes, but cannot prove, that John West and Mary Madden were the parents of his Isaac West who married Susanna Anderson.  It’s great to find someone else who shares my opinions, albeit, questionable!

Regarding my post of December 2, 2014, “A Transcription of ‘A History of the West Family as far Back to 1665,’” Kevin stated that some of the information in the letter is erroneous since some of the dates do not make sense.

Kevin provided me with a copy and transcription of the cover letter that accompanied that 1905 history of the West family.  The cover letter was addressed to Mrs. Sattie Smith and signed “Your Aunt E. C. Page.”   She wrote it on April 28, 1905, from Attala County, Mississippi.  Sattie was the nickname for Sarah Ann West who was the wife of Thomas White Smith.  Obviously, E. C. Page was her aunt.  However, Kevin does not know who E. C. Page may have been.  Sarah Ann “Sattie” was the great granddaughter of Isaac West and Susanna Anderson.

If, indeed, John West and Mary Madden are the common ancestors that Kevin and I share, we are 6th cousins once removed.  Thanks, Kevin, for contacting me and sharing information with me.  I hope that by working together we may find documentation to prove that John West and Mary Madden were the parents of Alexander, Isaac, and Solomon, and possibly a John.