Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:27PM - 254 Views

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Chip Horr

Contributing Columnist

Last week I shared the story of John and Susan Morgan who lived near Lewisburg, Va, (now W.Va.) during the Civil War. When John joined the Confederate army in April 1862, he was stationed only 40 miles from his home. Soon after arriving at Camp Narrows on the New River, his regiment participated in the Battle of Fayetteville Va. (now W.Va.) in September. Only five months after his enlistment, Susan received the following letter from Lt. Thrasher of Chapman’s battery:

“We are now at Fayetteville with our force. Yesterday we had a considerable battle at this place with the enemy in which I am sorry to say your Husband fell victim to the enemy. We are this morning making preparations to bury him as circumstances will allow. We have detailed two gentlemen who will take care of his remains. I would have supervised the burial myself, but we are just starting to move. The Yankees fled last night and my part demands my presence. I would write the particulars but I have not the time. Anything you may wish to know, that I can tell you, I will do. I will write you at any time that you may wish, so if there is anything you wish to know, write and direct your letter to this place. (Sgt) Major Morgan fell at his post while firing on the enemy…he was shot through the neck and killed instantly.”

Charles Ellison wrote to Susan’s father, Rev Jehu Hank, the following:

“I wish to inform you more definitely perhaps than you have heard of the fall of Mr. Morgan. He fell in the engagement at Fayetteville the evening of September 10. And I happening to be present write for your satisfaction and that also of Mrs. Morgan. We occupied an exposed position. Mr. Morgan was gunner of the 24-pounder – had directed three or more shots – when upon his knees, I think preparing a friction tube. A ball struck him below the left ear passing through. He died without an expression except it was an exclamation. I seized him instantly and conveyed him from the field. I superintended his burial at Mr. Roache’s, six miles above Fayetteville. I dressed him neatly, procured a coffin and buried him genteelly. You can say to Mrs. Morgan that I sympathize with her very much. He was a brave soldier and a pleasant associate. His officers had the highest regard for him. Was particular attached to him and the company greatly lamented his fall. He had in his pocket when killed ten dollars and fifteen cents, seven of which I appropriated to his burial. The remainder will be transmitted with other money due him when the opportunity presents itself.”

Sgt. Major John Morgan was killed within 50 miles from his home. His family later went to his burial site to disinter him and take him home, but by that time his body had decomposed so badly that they left him where he had been buried, and now lies in an unmarked grave. In December 1863, Susan, still grieving over the loss of her husband, died. She was only 25. Family members said she died of a “broken heart.” Their three daughters became war orphans and were raised by Susan’s parents at their farm near Lewisburg. She was buried on a hill overlooking the farmhouse. Although her father was a Methodist minister and had preached at the local Methodist church, he would not allow her to be buried at the church cemetery. He no longer preached there because Northern sympathizers had been attending. These Northerners had taken both his daughter and son-in-law in less than a year and a half. (Once again I thank Harry (Mick) McNeer and his sister Maime Snook for sharing family letters.)

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