Family Service before WWI


Great-Grandmother Emma Steppe died at age 94 on Christmas Eve, 1944 (I was seven years old and remember the event.) Her obituary records that twenty-three of her grandchildren were in the armed forces, fourteen being overseas. My family is not known as a “military family” and I know of only one direct ancestor that died in service. They were privates that served the place where they were born throughout the history of our nation.


Here is a short list of patriots and servicemen before WWI.


Jesse Bailey Sr. The book “Pittsylvania County History During The Revolutionary War” records how in 1781 the county commissioners met and divided the county into districts to provide “beeves and clothing” for the revolutionary army. Each resident was assessed according to his ability to pay. Jesse Bailey Sr. was charged the minimal, four pounds. The supplies provided were sent to the “Camp” at Yorktown where the Continental Army and the French Navy had the British troops under siege. Jesse Bailey Sr. is my GGGG-Grandfather.


Elijah Hunt, Sr. My GGGG-Granduncle Elijah Sr. was born about 1734. DAR records show that he did Civil Service and Patriotic Service in Virginia.


Richard Daniel. The son of Jesse Bailey Sr., Jesse Bailey Jr., married Rhoda Daniel. Rhoda Daniel’s uncle, my GGGG-Granduncle Richard Daniel, made application for a pension for his war service in 1832. The application shows that Richard served in the Bedford (now Campbell) County Militia. In 1781 this militia "gave the British a lickin" at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. Private Richard was wounded in the leg in that battle and had to hire a horse at sixty dollars to get home.


Archibald Drinkard. The book “The Drinkard Family in Virginia” by A. W. Drinkard, tells about Judith Pendleton, my GGG-Grandmother, the wife of Archibald Drinkard, my GGG-Grandfather. Archibald and Judith had married about the year 1818. “…She was born about 1785 and died in 1875. Father remembered her well: she was medium in height, slender, erect, with smooth features, but very wrinkled in old age. The fact that she talked about applying for a pension on account of Archibald’s service in the Revolutionary War is evidence that he was a soldier in the Revolution.”


James Hunt. Born in 1703, my GGGGG-Grandfather was 74 years old when he served in the Revolutionary War as a soldier from Virginia. He served in Captain Thomas Tweet’s 14th VA regiment as a corporal. In 1779 he was Sgt Major in the 10th regiment. He is last found on the muster rolls December 9, 1779. He lived for eighteen years after serving his new country.


David Callaham. Born in 1758, my GGGG-Grandfather served three separate times as a soldier from Virginia. He was at Valley Forge, White Plains, and the Siege of Yorktown. His pension application is available from Record Group 15, Records of the Veteran Administration.


Benjamin Hughes. At age sixteen he enlisted as a private in the Virginia troops. He was in the battles of Brandywine, Malvern Hill, Charles City Court House, and the siege of Yorktown; and served altogether about three years. He is my GGGG-Grandfather.


Elijah Hunt, Jr. My GGG-Grandfather Elijah Jr. served with the Virginia Militia during the war of 1812 under Captain Charles Harris as a private. His pension application is available from the VA State Library over the web. The application shows that he is aged and destitute, and there are supporting papers to show that he had served long enough to earn his pension.


Grandchildren of Benjamin Hughes. Grandson Clement Hughes enlisted in the Union army and his brothers Benjamin and Emory Hughes enlisted in the Confederate army. There were many cases of brother against brother in the Civil war. Emory died at Gettysburg. Benjamin’s Granddaughter Edna Strong married Allen German Bailey, my GG-Grandfather, a confederate soldier (See below)


Ryland Logan Hunt. GG-Grandfather Ryland enlisted, along with his son John W, in the Republican Grove Rifles, Co. F, 38th VA Volunteers under Captain Jeduthan Carter. The book “38th Virginia Infantry” by G. Howard Gregory, shows that this unit was organized June 4, 1861 at Republican Grove in Halifax County, Virginia. Ryland was sent to Manassas Junction to guard baggage. He was discharged September 3, 1862 when his enlistment expired; possibly he was too old for his enlistment to be extended to battlefield duty. Son John W Hunt deserted April 1865. He was received by the Federals, took the oath, and was given passage to Jefferson County, Illinois and possibly spent the rest of his life away from his home.


Benjamin Franklin Waller. Great-Grandfather Ben and his brother Thomas H. Waller enlisted March 1, 1862 in Co H of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. Their first cousins John W Waller and Christopher Columbus Waller had enlisted earlier. This company, the Catawba Troop, was mustered May 30, 1861 in Halifax County. Ben was wounded May 1864 by a ball in his right thigh at Haw’s Shop. His unit was near Lynchburg when Lee surrendered at Appomattox, April 9, 1865 and Ben was released at Lynchburg the next day. He walked home from there with the ball still in his thigh. When I drive from Lynchburg to Ben’s home in Halifax County, partly over the roads they must have walked, I can imagine the newly freed brothers and cousins walking home for two days into an unknown future.


John Dabney Stepp. John’s brother Nathan enlisted June 3, 1861 at Appomattox CH in the 44th VA Infantry. He was transferred to the 20th Battalion of Heavy Artillery. Great-Grandfather John joined him in Company A when he enlisted at Richmond July 3, 1863. They manned the big guns defending Richmond until General Robert E Lee was forced to leave that city. They were taken POW April 6, 1865 during the Battle of Saylor’s creek. They went to northern prisons where they took the oath and were released.


Allen German Bailey. GG-Grandfather Allen was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff on May 16, 1864, less than 3 months after he had been conscripted at age 41, one of only 8 of the 11th VA Infantry killed in the battle. The story is that he was killed by a bouncing cannon ball. Cannon were fired downward so the balls would bounce through the charging rebel ranks. Allen’s brothers Edmond and Jesse, my GG-Granduncles, also died while serving the southern cause.  All three men had started families before the war.