Wednesday, January 07, 2009

William H. Howard, Company F, 44th VA. INF, C.S.A.

Back during the Spring I did a hike up in Shenandoah National Park at Jones Run Falls \ Doyles Falls and came upon a grave marker for a Confederate soldier in the area. I did a original post about this hike and mentioned this marker in the description. Since then a friend who is obviously a fan and student of history has provided this information...

William Howard and Browns Gap. For many years Browns Gap was one of the principal routes for taking farm produce from the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond. Browns Gap and the turnpike were used briefly during the Civil War. On May 2, 1862, at the beginning of his Valley Campaign, Stonewall Jackson marched his entire army through Browns Gap. From June 9 to June 12, after the Battle of Port Republic at the end of the Valley Campaign, Jackson's army camped in and near Browns Gap. On September 25, 1864, General Jubal Early and his army, after their defeat at Winchester, fortified themselves here and fought off Sheridan's attacks for two days while awaiting reinforcements. Today Browns Gap Turnpike is a SNP fire road.

The grave marker along Browns Gap fire road notes William H. Howard, Company F, 44th VA. INF, C.S.A. One of the two Fluvanna infantry companies which enlisted in the spring of 1861, the "Fluvanna Hornets", had formed at Kent's Store on May 20 under Captain Thomas K. Wiesinger.The Fluvanna Hornets would be the name of Company F. Of the 88 men which enlisted in Company F, 28 would die before the war ended.

The roster shows that there were three Howard brothers in company F:
Howard, John T.; Private *
Howard, Napoleon B.;
PrivateHoward, William W.; Private *
*= died during war.

According to the White House of the Confederacy, both William and John both suffered from Typhoid fever in the camp. Typhoid is a bacterial dysentery, Salmonella thyphosa, which from poor sanitary conditions can lead to dehydration and death. It is unclear why William is buried along the Browns Gap fire trail. Records shown that he enlisted June 12, by August he was sick at camp, and died at Camp Allegheny on Oct 1, 1861. Possibly he was being transported home to Fluvanna and was buried along the way. The middle initial “H” is likely an error from poor records, as a sloppy “W” may look like a sloppy “H”. The grave headstone does not have a date, but lists only Company F, 44th Infantry, CSA. His brother John died 1 Aug 1861 at Monterey, but his other brother Napoleon survived and was promoted to Sergeant, only to be later taken as a prisoner of war at Gettysburg.


Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing. There are likely a number of those graves along the various trails in the Blue Ridge, though many of them are probably no longer marked.

Michael Upchurch said...

I have a friend whose great, great grandmother was Annie Crickenburger who ran the Browns Gap toll booth on the Browns Gap Turnpike before the Civil War. During the War, William Howard, showed up at her house very ill. She took care of him until his death shortly thereafter. She buried him just below her house on the east side of the Gap along Browns Gap Road in an unmarked grave. After the establish of the Shenandoah National Park, some of her descendants, who knew where he was buried, erected a marker at his grave site. Near the end of the War, Stonewall Jackson declared Browns Gap Turnpike a "free road" and Mrs. Crickenburger moved off the mountain to a small town south of Grottoes on Rt. 340. Breastworks from the war efforts still exist on either side of Skyline Drive at Browns Gap.