The Chenoweth family in the war between the States

Cousins vs Cousins


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The Civil War was a defining moment in the history of our country. Even today, over 140 years later we are still grappling with it's effects. It forever changed us. The nation divided became one with a strong federal government. Slavery was abolished and the struggle for human rights started. The US military took a form that would dominate all future conflicts. Many lives were lost, and many others shattered. In the end, the South was defeated by the industrial might of the North and it's ability to replenish its ranks. That the South held out as long as it did with ever diminishing resources is a testament to its superior military leadership and tradition.

Brother fought brother, cousin fought cousin. For the Chenoweths, descendants and spouses took the fields across opposing lines. This list of over 460 descendants and spouses known to have fought in this struggle is certainly not a definitive list. The actual number, if known, would be far greater. We estimate that there may have been 400 males named Chenoweth born before 1850 living in 1860. 150 of these would serve in the conflict to come. The other 310 that saw service were spouses or from daughter lines. In 1860, the Chenoweth name comprised only about 20% of family households. Even though the Chenoweth base sprang from Maryland, a border State, and Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy and bastion of the South, Chenoweths in the Union Army outnumbered those in the South by more than 4 to 1. The North-South split is found in every line but William's, whose descendants migrated in a much narrower band to the Great Lake States and served solely for the Union. They came from the 5th through 7th generations in America, ranging from 5th cousins to brothers and in-laws. Two of my ancestors, a father and a son, Henry S. and Albert W. Chenoweth, were participants, both surgeons in the Union Army. Yet the brother of Henry S., John W., also a doctor, served in the same capacity for the South.

120 years before the Civil war began, The Chenoweths settled across the Potomac near Winchester, Virginia. Virginia was a British Colony. Four generations later, George Cromwell Chenoweth enlisted here to defend the Confederacy. The world had turned full circle. The revolutionary War had been fought and won; the United States, birthed and prospered. Now the demands for freedom, on both sides, were bringing a new, terrible conflict across the land. The boys from Randolph County, serving under Stonewall Jackson, would fight in and around Winchester for years. At Port Republic, 90 miles away, Lemuel's son, Joseph Hart Chenoweth, a Confederate Major and graduate of VMI, fell leading his men in May of 1862. A wonderful account of a Confederate soldier taken prisoner and housed for a few days by the Beverly, WV family of Lemuel Chenoweth is contained in the March 2005 newsletter titled: "Civil War Remembered". Near Winchester itself, William Edward Chenoweth, fighting for the North, would be taken prisoner. Another Union soldier and Chenoweth descendant, Jasper Kelley would died here in 1864, opposing his Elkin friends and cousins, who had taken up the rebel cause. His brother Eli, served as well, under the name of John Smith, in a effort to assuage bitter feelings. A year later, the war finally waning, George W. Gladden, would lay down his arms for the South, and be paroled from duty on April 18, 1865, after serving every minute of the War. He would later marry a Chenoweth descendant in Berkeley County, of the new State of West Virginia, just to the North.

Shelby Foote states that there were over 1,000,000 causualities for both sides, including 623,000 deaths. One out of 4 Union soldiers were wounded or died. Well over half of the Confederate troops were similar causalities. Wives and families grieved for loved ones who never returned. Even the returning soldiers, who survived the bloody conflicts and camp deaths, from exposure and sickness, would suffer from wounds and illness for years to come, often living shortened lives, from the lingering afflictions. One such volunteer, William J. Sutton went blind from exposure to freezing weather. In the first year of the war he wrote a this remarkable letter to his cousin, Leonard Hubble Sutton. Edith Sutton Foster who sent me a transcription tried to preserve his orginal spelling.

December 13th, 1861
Camp Hicks near Frederick

Dear Cosin

it is with plesure that i set down to let you no that i am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you all enjoying the same Blessing. i am in the 16 Regament of indiana volunteers. i have bin out for seven months and have had some purty hard times. it is hard work and pore pay. Wee have bin drag about from one plase to another until Ii am giting tired of solgering. But thank God that i have only five months more to stay and then i don’t think i will go a solgering a gain gist for the fun of things as i did be fore for it a giting cold wither and we have not any Winter quarters yet and no prospects for any. it is cold anuff in our tents to freese the horn of a muly cow. Well len i would like to know what what you are doing and whether you are married or not. well I must bring my letter to a close. give my best respests to all purty girls.

Tell Sarah i want her to write and tell me whether she is married or not she wants to di an old made

William J. Sutton to l Sutton

Direct your leter to
Washington Cnty, DC
16th regament of Indiana vol M
general Rank colum
Company E.

Losses were also of a material nature. A decade before the war, sensing the rising conflict, John Chenoweth, Jr and his son, John Wesley, would dispose of their plantations in neighboring Berkeley County and move to Indiana. But serving the winning side did not protect one from loss. John's grandson, Bernard Peel Chenoweth, son of the Methodist Minister, Alfred Griffith Chenoweth, found himself fleeing Missouri for his Union stance taken in the newspaper he helped publish in St. Joe. Joining the Union Army as a Captain he honorably served for 3 years, but on returning to civilian life found his property as well as of his wife's legacy destroyed and lost. His Union participation had the added effect of estranging him from his Virginia relatives and impoverished he sought help from President Grant for a position in the diplomatic Service after Grant's election.

Some participated in the war in others ways. David Chenoweth Ebaugh of Baltimore, the nephew of John Baxter Chenoweth, has another interesting story. In 1855 he moved to Berkeley Co., SC. During the war was he became the assistant superintendent of the Cooper River Niter Works, located near Charleston, SC. Very talented in "mechanics", during the Civil War he built a small ramming submersible torpedo boat named the "Little David" designed by Dr. St. Julien Ravenel and named by Ravenel's wife for the David of "David and Goliath". Twenty foot long, and about 5 foot wide, it had a ten foot spar, upon which a 75 pound charge was mounted. Manned by a crew of 4, she was launched and set to confront the Union on the evening of Oct 4, 1863 in Charleston Harbor. The "New Ironsides" became the target of the "David's" attack. The resulting explosion, threw up a column of water that doused the engine fires on the submersible, setting her adrift and the crew swimming. While the "New Ironsides" appeared to have sustained little damage, the damage was significant enough that it was never able to participate in battle again. But the story was not over. After Civil War, the property of David Chenoweth Ebaugh, appraised at $165,000.00, was confiscated by the US Government. He then moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and continued to invent things, getting into a successful fertilizer business. [with thanks to Norman S. Walsh for corrections to the story of the "Little David."]

Nor were the soldiers the only ones that suffered in the war. The war ravaged the countryside, and civilians were very much at risk. One descendant civilian, Edward Pugh Chenoweth, in Elkins, West Virginia, found himself taken hostage to ensure the town's loyalty to the North. He would die in prison in Philadelphia, never to return home. Lucian B. Fant, the husband of Martha A. Ferguson, a granddaughter of Mary Chenoweth, lost his life defending his farm from Union soldiers in Grant Co., KY in 1864. Christopher McCarty of Warren Co., OH, still in his teens and too young to join the army was killed while herding cattle for the Union Army. The war surely affected all aspects of life in the Unites States for a long period.

A historical comment should be made that since the North was victorious, the service of its army was carefully preserved as a part of the existing military record. With the destruction of the Confederacy, Southern Service was left to the individual care and devotion of the survivors and loved ones. Thus more today is known of service to the Union than the Confederacy.

The Civil War is history, but the human side is of equal wonder. Jean Tuohino has graciously given to me her father's account of his uncle, Caleb Asbury Chenoweth, who served and died in that service. It is called The Road to Kennesaw. Caleb's remains are at the Marietta National Cemetery, Cobb Co., GA.

Note: most narratives presented herein are based on information from "The Chenoweth family in America" by Richard Harris

Unidentified Chenoweth surnames that appear on the rolls of Civil War service have been listed on a separate page in hopes that they may be further identified. - Chenoweths of other lines and unknown lineage

Participant's Descendant Tables