The Cruel War Is Raging

In my last post, A Mom’s Goodbye, I began the story of Greene Dodson and his home-leaving to join the Army of the Confederate States of America.  Today I continue building proofs which document my family’s lore.

All sorts of paper have been saved by our federal, state and local governments, and while I may groan about filling out the forms today I am sure grateful my ancestors completed theirs.  The Confederate’s Citizens File is one such collection of forms and notes, offering proof of services and goods rendered by private citizens and businesses to the Confederate States of America.  My search of this data-mine was possible through the entity of through which I pulled up a file on James H Dodson, Mecklenburg County, Virginia.  Previous work with Federal census data from the mid-1800’s has confirmed the existence of only one James H Dodson in Mecklenburg County, and therefore this file documents some of the transactions my great-great-grandfather made.  Bonanza! for among these records was this scrap:

James H Dodson, Consents to the enlistment of his son. See paper filed with Co. I 25 Battl Va Inf–W.G. Dodson

The search moved to the files of Civil War Soldiers, Company I, 25th Battalion, Virginia Infantry (Richmond Battalion).  Upon clicking my cursor I felt a connection so palpable, I could almost talk to my ancestors.  In November of 1863, with the war continuing far longer than anyone had ever dreamed, Greene Dodson dropped out of school and traveled the hundred or so miles to Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederate States of America.  His father accompanied him in order to give his consent, which reads:

Richmond, Virginia  Nov 21, 1863

I hereby consent for my son, William G. Dodson, to join and become a member of Capt. Aston’s Co. I 25th Inf Batt.                                               James H Dodson

Witness: W.E. Hitchcock

It appears that someone had written out the text, with James filling in his son’s name, and signing his own name.

Four other documents are included in this file, yielding precious nuggets of information, keystone elements of my family’s story.  William Greene Dodson, seventeen years and eight months, stood 5’9″ tall.  Greene was light complected with dark hair. His hazel eyes must have burned with earnest bravado as the young farmer signed the enlistment papers for Captain Samuel T. Bayly.  Volunteering to serve three years or the duration of the War, my great-great-uncle took the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America and its leaders.  By the end of the day 25 November 1863 all the forms had been filled out, all the recruitment exams and procedures conducted–William Greene Dodson was a Private with Company I, 25th Battalion Virginia Infantry.

I imagine James and Sarah down home in southside Virginia, pausing during their chores, half expecting to see their son’s lanky frame come ’round a barn door. And then remembering with a mixture of pride and fear that Greene had stepped into being a man, answering a call to duty.

We leave Greene in Richmond, where he is on the List of Recruits, 31 December 1863.  There are no further muster cards for this ancestor with this company.  I can only speculate at this point what Greene did between December 1863 and 15 April 1864 when he re-enlisted.

Next:  The Dodsons of  Company B, 34th Regiment Virginia Infantry.

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Map of Richmond, J.F. Gilmer, 1864

A Mom’s Goodbye

This morning, as I steeled myself to watch my son’s back recede into the maze of airport security this weekend, I felt a tug from the past.  “Remember,” she said, “he is going on an adventure, following his dream and his loyalties, to become the man he needs to be.  At least he enters into a world of safety and civility, with a university’s throbbing pulse.  He won’t be put deliberately into harm’s way.  You are lucky.”

Sarah Jane Rowlett Dodson must have felt awash with anxiety and sadness as she watched her son’s back recede down toward Dodson’s Corners, Virginia.  Greene left home to pursue his adventure as a soldier for the Confederate States of America.  He didn’t get the chance to become a man.

It is going to be much easier to ponder this mother’s goodbye than to say mine.  So my next few posts will be a bit of productive coping.

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My proof that Greene Dodson actually existed and fought in The War Between The States begins with my Grandmother Strickland’s family history, “Some Genealogical Facts of the Strickland-Sayles Family”, compiled and written by Florette Sayles Strickland, March 1976.

James Dodson and Sarah Jane Rowlett, united in marriage 18–, in Mecklenburg Co. Virginia.  Born to this union: Greene, Virginia, Harvey, Henry, Dora, Molly, Adlaide, Rebecca Eulelia (Lillie), born Aug. 15, 1856, Edward (Ed), and William Rowlett (Bud).  ….Greene, the oldest son, was killed while serving in the Confederade (sic) Army near Petersburg, Va. shortly before the War ended. He had left school to join up, tho (sic) he was under age.

The 1860 Federal Census provides further evidence.  Listed among the residents of Regiment 22, Mecklenburg County, Virginia are Dodson, James (45), Sarah (35), William (13), Eugenia (10), Harvey(8), Maria (6), Mary (5), Lilly (3), Usebia (2).

Because my grandmother referred to the eldest son as Greene I have concluded that Sarah Jane’s boy was named William Greene, after James’ mother, Mary Greene.   The search among Confederate Soldier records included all the possible variations: William, Wm., William G., W. G., Greene, William Greene Dodson.  After falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, I found the muster cards provided some confusing results.

Next: The Confederate Citizens’ Papers yield an important clue.

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Map of Mecklenburg Co., Va. Surveyed under the direction of A.H. Campbell Capt. P.A.C.S. in Ch’ge Topl. Dept. [by] H.M. Graves Lt. Engrs. Sept. 1864.

Map Collection at the Library of Congress

Wordless Wednesday: Civil War Map of Southside Virginia and North Carolina

Today I am sharing a discovery: a Civil War map from the collection of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, drawn by A. Lindenkohl. Annotations provide clues about where my Dodson and Strickland families lived during the Civil War.

Edward Dodson Vouches for Rebecca Rowlett, 1840

Virginia: Mecklenburg County to wit:

I Edward Dodson a Justice of the peace in the County aforesaid, do hereby certify that I was well acquainted with said William Rowlett and Rebecca his wife, both of whom sometime in the year 1833, removed from Chesterfield to Mecklenburg County. That said william Rowlet in his life time, often mentioned to me that he was a soldier of the Revolution, and that he made an application for a Pension in the county of Chesterfield. That his Pension Certificate never had been received by him.  That since his death, I know that due search and inquiry has been made to recover the came.  That said William Rowlet died in the County of Mecklenburg the 2nd day of June, 1839, and that the said Rebecca Rowlet is his widow, and still remains his widow.

Ewd  Dodson JP

Source: Revolutionary War Pension application #26412

1840: The Declaration of Rebecca Rowlet, Revolutionary War Pension Documents

State of Virginia: Mecklenburg County  to wit:

On this 18th day of August, 1840, before the subscriber, a Justice of the peace in and for the County aforesaid, personally appeared Rebecca Rowlet a resident of said county and state, who being first duly sworn according to law, makes the following Declaration:

That she is the widow of William Rowlet formerly of Chesterfield County, and late of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, who was an applicant for a Pension under the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. That her said husband, at the time of application for a Pension, was a resident of Chesterfield County, and his Declaration presented in the court of that county, and thence forwarded to the Pension office.  That shortly after the said William Rowlett with his family , removed to the county of Mecklenburg, where he resided until the 2nd day of June, 1839, the day of his death.  That during the lifetime of said Willaim Rowlett, she honestly believes, the said Pension Certificate never was received, which she understands issued, or was admitted on the 24th of May, 1833, and sent to Petersburg, Virginia.  That due search and inquiry has been made for said certificate, and that it cannot be found.

She further declares that she is the widow of the said identical William Rowlet of Chesterfield County, Virginia, to whom said Pension Certificate issued  the 24th May, 1833, and the only person entitled to the amount allowed said William Rowlet, from the 4th March, 1831, to the 2nd day of June, 1839, the day of his death .

Rebecca  X Rowlett

her mark

Sworn to and subscribed before me the day and year last mentioned.  I further certify, that she is a credible person, and her statement un? to full confidence.

Given under my bond this 18th day of August, 1840.

Will C Wall JP