Friday, September 11, 2009

Ancestor Military Battles, Solomon B. Eley

This challenge is to talk about military battles and your ancestors’ connections to them. Ok, I got war veterans, Revolutionary, War of 1812, Civil War, no Spanish American that I am aware of, World War I, World War II, and probably could snoop around a bit and come up with some Korea. Man served during the Vietnam era, but not in Nam, and in no battles.

I was born in in the south. Most of my research on my lineage is based in the south. Well, before about 1700 I can trace lines to the north, but, a LOT of my research (not Man's - mine), is Southern American. My Civil War soliders were all Confederates.

When I read this challenge, the very first name that came to me was of Solomon B. Eley, Captain of the 16th Virginia Infantry, Company D.

Solomon was the son of Exum Eley and his second wife, Martha (Darden) Marshall Eley (she was a widow when she married Exum). Exum and Martha had 3 children, Solomon being the last born.

The uniform Solomon is wearing is not necessarily the same as he wore during the Civil War. A discussion of this uniform may be done in a future blog. Can we say, "pre-computer era enhanced image"?

Solomon enlisted in the 16th Virginia Infantry during April of 1861. He was "signed up" by M. H. Watkins. Watkins after the war would marry Solomon's widowed sister.

During my research on Solomon, I was fortunate to be able to chat with some reinactors from the 16th Virginia Infantry. They do remarkable research and shared willingly. They provided me with transcripts of some war records that told of Solomon taking command of the 16th Virginia. There were at least 3 dates provided, October 31, 1864, November 28, 1864 and February 28, 1865. The following is a direct copy/paste of the worked shared with me, thanks to the 16th Virginia Reinactors.

"With this report we can see the effect of battle on the regiment; four days before this inspection the brigade was engaged at the Battle of Burgess Mill, October 27, 1864. At Wilderness Colonel Joseph Ham’s 2nd Manassas wound flares up, causing him to leave the regiment until early-October. He is again wounded at Burgess Mill. Days before Burgess Mill, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Whitehead was also wounded, and Major John Woodhouse was still recovering from a wound received at the Crater; leaving command of the regiment to Captain Solomon B. Eley of Company D."

Was Solomon in charge of the unit during the actual battle? Not sure, but he sure had to take command afterwards. (Fess up time here, I don't understsand military stuff real well. I will leave it to others to study this Battle of Burgess Mill.)

However, when I think of Solomon, (and I DO understand this), what I remember is that he signed the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Each officer of the unit had to sign the surrender papers, Solomon signed on page 2 of this document. And, I have a copy of the document! Here are two parts of the 4 legal sized pages document:

This document was signed at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. At the end of a 4 year long battle, the battle between the North and the South.

After the war, Solomon married, had children, we believe 2 girls and 2 boys, the boys dying young. Solomon himself died in Sussex County, Virginia on April 20, 1871 from consumption. His burial place in Isle of Wight County, Virginia remains undiscovered.

Solomon's picture is featured on the Wall of Honor at the Appomattox Court House because the family could prove he had been at the Court House on the day of Surrender.

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