On this Memorial Day we remember 18 year old Walter E Shackford who was wounded at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865 and was transported to the hospital at Farmville, Virginia where he died of his wounds.
Walter E Shackford, the son of Rev John William and Martha Cole (McLellan) Shackford was born about January 1847 most likely in Walkerton, Virginia, the location where his parents resided. If there was a record of Walter’s birth it was kept at the nearby King and Queen County Courthouse which was destroyed when the courthouse burned in a fire set by the Union on 10 March 1864.
Walter’s father had moved from New Hampshire to Virginia around 1837 at the age of eighteen and became a Methodist preacher and a farmer. He must have been able to fund his son’s education and run their farm without his help which enabled Walter to attended a school at Chatham Hill in 1856 and Walkerton Academy around age 13. In April 1860, William’s relatives from New Hampshire visited his family farm and sang at the church where his father preached. But about a year later the war started and Walter’s educational opportunities ended as there were no available teachers and children were needed to keep the farms going. The November 1861 over a period of ten days, four of Walter’s siblings, Lela, Harvey, Mary, and Nannie ages 12 to age 4 died of diphtheria.
The impact of the war was close to home – diaries kept by neighbors during the war describe “Yankees in large force crossing at Walkerton” on May 5, 1863, and on June 5, 1863 – “Report comes this morning that the Yankees are in force at Walkerton, setting fire to houses, mills, etc.; could see smoke ascending from three or four different points. About two o’clock heard the booming of cannon, evidently from gunboats returning down the river.”. On June 6, 1863, Dr B H. W. described “Yankees reached Walkerton Thursday night about one o’clock; landed four hundred infantry, seizing horses as they advanced by land toward Ayletts. At this place they burned foundry, store, dwelling, and granaries. An immense deal of property was destroyed, Negroes taken away, horses stolen.” The King and Queen Courthouse was burned on June 25, 1864 and on July 25, 1864, V. D. C. reported in his diary “A day of distress. The enemy here doing all the damage they can, taking corn, meat, clothing of all kinds, etc.”
Walter observed the mayhem and impact of the war in his community and on April 15, 1864 at the age of 17, he enlisted in Fredericksburg, Virginia as a private in Company H of Virginia’s 5th Cavalry, also called the James City Cavalry. He mustered in on the same day. Because he enlisted so far from home and not in a unit related to King and Queen County, we wonder if he told his parents he was joining the military. He was issued his military uniform on July 27, 1864.
Walter probably participated in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in Front Royal, Winchester, and Cedar Creek during 1864 and the Appomattox Campaign at Hanover Court House, Dinwiddie Court House in March 1865. He fought at Five Forks where he was wounded on April 1, 1864 and was brought to the hospital at Farmville.
Seven days after Walter was injured the war ended with Lee surrendering at Appomattox, only 31 miles from Farmville. Walter was probably alive on April 15, 1865 as he is listed as having been paroled in Farmville on that date. His mother traveled from Walkerton to Farmville to see her injured son but unfortunately arrived after he had died. We’re not sure if he was one of the many soldiers buried in the Farmville Confederate Cemetery or if his body was brought back to the farmhouse in Walkerton. Because there is not a stone cemetery marker for Walter we’ve included a picture of the memorial to those who fought at the Battle of Five Forks.
Battle of Five Forks’
Here at Five Forks on April 1, 1865 10,000 Confederates, commanded by General Pickett, were overwhelmed by about 50,000 Federal troops, led by General Sheridan, thereby opening the way to the Southside Railroad making further defense of Petersburg and Richmond impossible. Withdrawal to Appomattox followed.
Dedicated to the memory of the valiant Dinwiddie soldiers, as well as to all soldiers of the South and North, taking part in this encounter.
Presented by the Dinwiddie Confederate Memorial Association and erected by the Dinwiddie Civil War Centennial Commission April 1, 1965
In July 1868, about three years after the war ended, Walter’s parents sent his brother, Joseph Wesley Shackford, who had just turned 20 to New Hampshire to visit the northern relatives, one of whom was his 82 year old grandmother. Joseph wrote about this visit in his diary describing his fear of how he would be seen by his northern relatives after the war — it’s worth the time to read his diary which has more meaning after visiting these locations.
Someday we’re hoping to find a more about Walter — perhaps his compiled service record and possibly some information in the Farmville Hospital Records as these source documents may help us in our attempt to honor this young man who only lived 18 years.
Note: We just visited Appomattox, Farmville, Five Forks, King and Queen County Courthouse, and Walkerton to learn more about Walter’s life, some of our own history (my mother lived at Appomattox during her youth), and the Civil War in general. If you make it to Appomattox, we strongly recommend attending the outstanding presentations “Emma Hix” and “The Last 50 Miles”
We’re now starting our journey north where we hope to learn more about northern Shackfords. Next stop Saratoga Springs, NY where Seth R Shackford died in 1777.
All posts on this website are a work in progress. We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared. Also we’d love it if you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others. Thanks!
American Civil War Research Database (http://civilwardata.com : accessed 12 May 2016), Walter G Shackford
Bagby Rev Alfred, A. B,, D. D., King and Queen County, Virginia (New York and Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1908), page 137; digital images, HathiTrust (http://babel.hathitrust.org : accessed 30 May 2016.
The Christian Advocate, Volume 81 (29 November 1906), page 8; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 13 May 2016.
Johnston Joseph S, editor, The Diary of Joseph Wesley Shackford King and Queen County Virginia 1868-1893 (Library of Congress: Library of Congress, 1991).
Jones Reverend J., Ed, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 24 (n.d.), page 1.62; digital transcription, Perseus Digital Library Tufts University (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/ : accessed 9 November 2015.
V. D. C., “More From The Diary Of John Walker Of Chatham Hill,” The Bulletin of the King and Queen County Historical Society of Virginia, July 1965, page 5, col 2, 1864.
Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not just copy this material and paste it elsewhere)