The ranks of the Blue and Gray in Wayne county have been thinned out by the Grim Reaper within the past few years to an extent that is hardly realized by the average person.
It was only a few years ago that there were hundreds of veterans of the Civil War in this county, but today there is only a scattering handful to answer roll call.
Reunions that were held in the county only a few years ago always attracted veterans by the scores, but now the few remaining survivors of the conflict of '61 are so advanced in years that they are not physically able to get together for reunions.
Only 9 Confederate and 7 Union veterans in the county, a total of 16, reported so far to this paper, in response to the request for names which we carried in the past two issues of the paper.
Following is a list of the names of both Confederate and Union veterans in the county, as have been reported by our readers up to the time of going to press Wednesday of this week.
ROBERT C. FOSTER. Mr. Foster was a Union soldier in Company E., 7th Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry. He now lives on Fort Gay Route 1, in this county and has lived in the county for forty years. He is now 83 years of age. Mr. Foster was born April 26, 1843, at Pearisburg, Giles County, Virginia. He was honorably discharged from service at Wheeling, W. Va., August 15, 1865.
JAMES JOHNSON, Union, lives on Wayne Route Two, near Armilda.
THOMAS OSBURN, Union soldier, age 85, lives on Camp Creek, near East Lynn.
JAMES DAVIS, Union, of East Lynn R. F. D.
JOHN D. CLARK, Confederate, of Stiltner.
ROBERT OSBURN, WILLIAM PARSONS, JAMES E. HOBBS, C. H. GILKERSON AND J. W. LLOYD, all Confederate veterans in the vicinity of East Lynn. Mr. Hobbs, who is now 85 years old, belonged to General Jenkins' Cavalry Brigade, 16th Regiment of Virginia Cavalry, and served under Colonel M. J. Ferguson.
ALEXANDER ADKINS, who lives on Wayne Route Two. Mr. Adkins is 85 years of age. He was a Confederate veteran.
SAM MEAD, age 81, of Hubbardstown, was a Union soldier. Mr. Mead has moved to the Kentucky side, but still gets his mail at Prichard in this county.
JAMES H. FERGUSON, of Wayne, Union soldier.
JAKE MASSIE, of Fort Gay Route 1, was a Confederate soldier. He is now 86 years old.
JOHN BILLUPS, of Fort Gay, age 85, Confederate soldier.
R. A. CHAFFIN, of Hubbardstown, now 80 years old, was a Union soldier. Mr. Chaffin was in the following eight Civil War battles: Middle Creek, Ky.; Dalton, Georgia; Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga; Lost Mountain, Georgia; Kenasaw Mountain, Georgia; Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; seige of Atlanta, Georgia; and Johnsonville, Tennessee.
If any of our readers know of any other Union or Confederate veterans of the Civil War who are not listed above, we would appreciate it if they would send them in to this paper, giving name, post office address, age and something of their record in service if possible.
The following letter has been written to Wayne County News by Uncle Hance Gilkerson, well known citizen of the Beech Fork section of this county. A picture of Mr. Gilkerson accompanies this article. In his letter which follows, he gives an intimate glimpse of his part in the great conflict between the North and South in the days from 1861 to 1865. Here's his letter:
Wayne County News
Wayne, W. Va.
I saw a request in Wayne County News for a list of Civil War veterans of Wayne county. I am one of them. My name is Charles Hansford Gilkerson, better known in Wayne county as "Uncle Hance" Gilkerson.
I have passed the middle of my 84th year. I joined the army in 1862 and fought on the Confederate side. Kindreck was captain of Company H. Ferguson was Colonel of the 15th regiment to which I belonged. Jenkins was our general.
Now I will not go into detail to mention all of the minor engagements in which I had a part, but will only mention a few of the things that might be of interest to your readers.
We left Wayne County Court House and went to Kanawha and went with Lowbern when he left the Valley. We went on and pitched camp in Roanoke County, Virginia, near Salem. We wintered there, and when Spring came we started on the raid to the North, going down the Shenandoah Valley. At Winchester, Virginia, the Confederates met the Union army and we routed them.
We followed on North and we had been fighting every day till we got to Gettysburg. There we had plenty to do, as you all know. For three days it was the bloodiest of bloody battles.
From Gettysburg we had to fight our way back till we got to Culpepper Court House in Virginia. At that time I got a furlough for ten days to come home. So when I went back I got with the regiment in Greenbrier County and from there we started another raid toward the border. And it was on that trip that I was taken a prisoner on the hill between Twelve Pole and Beech Fork at the John Barbour place.
From there they took me as prisoner to Barboursville and then to Charleston and from there to Wheeling and then to Camp Chase, and from there to Fort Delaware. So from the time I was taken prisoner it was eighteen months until I got out of service and back home on June 21, 1865, after Lee's surrender.
Charles Hansford Gilkerson
Eyesight has been restored to Edmund Thompson, aged blind citizen of Sidney, this county, who underwent an operation at Hawes-Marple hospital in Huntington two weeks ago for the removal of a cataract from each eye.
Mr. Thompson is 79 years of age. He has been blind in one eye for five years and completely lost sight in the other about a year ago.
In telephone conversation with Bascom Thompson, son of Edmund Thompson, at Hawes-Marple hospital Wednesday morning of this week, Wayne County News was informed that the operation had been successful. Mr. Thompson is able to see with one of his eyes, while the other has not healed as rapidly and the bandages will not be permanently removed from this eye until tomorrow, Thursday. Mr. Thompson was able to see well enough Tuesday to clearly recognize his son Bascom when he walked into his room at the hospital. Hospital authorities are hopeful that the operation will restore sight completely to the other eye also.
The operation is regarded as unusually remarkable due to the advanced age of the patient, Mr. Thompson, widely known merchant of Sidney. Attending physicians believe that he will be able to be removed from the hospital to his home at Sidney by the latter part of this week.
Dr. C. M. Hawes, who operated on Mr. Thompson, gained national fame last winter when he performed an operation removing cataracts from the eyes of Mayme and Fay Cook, age 24 and 17 respectively, of Lorado, Logan county. The young women had been blind since birth, and the sight of both was completely restored by the operation. Newspapers throughout the whole country heralded the operation as a remarkable feat in optical surgery.
Transcription by June White
Wayne County News