|Five Confederates From Pleasant Hill
By Omar C. Addington
said that the American Civil War turned the father against the son, and
brother against brother. No so, say, the five sons of James O. and
Godsey Wood of Pleasant Hill in Scott County located three miles east
Estilville (now Gate City) in Moccasin Valley.
For many years
seemed the Union would be dissolved and only the compromises of the
had postponed the secession of the South. Two ways of life had evolved
in the United States because of geographical difference in the North
South. The North had become a giant industrial power while the
South had become an agricultural region.
the Wood family at Pleasant Hill that Virginia had seceded from the
and their way of life was threatened, a family conference was held of
living at home and nearby. Some were away from home. James H. was at
Virginia Military Institute and Martin B. was in Lee County.
In letters written home, their view and
were given - stand by Virginia and our way of life.
had a difficult decision to make. They loved the United States, but
they believed in the sovereignty of each state. They believed the
did not set up a national government above and over the states, but was
a compact between independent states and that each state had a right to
govern itself and was not to be interfered with by another state or
of states. The Wood family had always been taught from the beginning
when England was trying to subject the colonies to harsh rule, a
was formed by the colonies as states for mutual aid and defense. Thus
and so understanding of their rights, the Wood family felt justified in
their decision to go with the South.
Wood knew they would have to give part, if not all of their sons for
Southern cause. This they did. Henry Clinton and James Harvey
in 1861. John G. and Martin B. offered their services in 1862 and
Morrison in 1864.
John Godsey Wood
John G. as
known, was the eldest son of James O. and Elizabeth Godsey Wood. He was
born June 1, 1829 at Pleasant Hill near Estilville (now Gate City),
Co., VA. He was given the best education that the local schools could
The Wood family had always believed in acquiring the best
When the war
John G. was a farmer at the old homestead. He was helping to supply the
local men who were leaving for the Confederate Army at Estilville on
12, 1862. John G. left with them and was assigned for three years to
"A" 22nd Virginia Cavalry and sent to Saltville,
Virginia to help defend the salt works.
the South's need for salt, made several raids against the military
guarding the salt works. The salt works were destroyed December 18,
when the Federal forces under General Stoneman from Tennessee laid
to East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
John G. was
from the army May 11, 1863 because of functional heart disease and poor
vision. He returned to Pleasant Hill and resumed farming and helping
who were to fight for the cause of the South. After his brother, Major
Henry Clinton, returned from the war, he started a mercantile
business and John G. worked for him
In 1870 he
to Goodson (now Bristol) Virginia to manage the Magnolia Hotel. He
a wooden walkway from the second floor of the building to the railway
the street. In those days, there were no railway dining cars. Trains
remain in Bristol long enough for the passengers to cross over the
to the hotel for meals. The Magnolia
was the favorite place for holding dances and other social functions.
in the big dining room would be pushed back to make a dance hall. The
providing music for the dance was a Negro trio, playing the banjo,
and guitar. (2)
late 1870's John G went into business with his brother-in-law, Charles
Yarborough and started a general mercantile business known as
and Wood. In addition to the mercantile business, the census of 1880,
district of Washington County,VA, shows him as a landlord and
owner of the Virginia Hotel. This hotel
the Magnolia Hotel which burned.
John G. died
Bristol in 1897 and is buried in East Hill Cemetery.
Henry Clinton Wood
or "Clint" as he was known was the second son of the Wood family. He
born February 15, 1836 in Scott Co., VA, at Pleasant Hill, the old
He spent most of his life in his native county. Henry received his
elementary education in a one room schoolhouse known as the
Wood's Schoolhouse, located on a cliff
Big Moccasin Creek. His next educational experience was at Fall Branch
Seminary at Fall Branch, Tennessee. After graduation he returned to
where he engaged in the mercantile business.
in the Confederate Army on May 20, 1861 and organized a company in
County which became known as Company "D". He was commissioned a Captain
on July 1, 1861. Company "D" became part of the 37th Regiment of the
Infantry and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, Stonewall
Jackson Division, whose purpose was to
the Shenandoah Valley against the enemy.
Virginia Infantry was made up of ten companies: Scott County one, Lee
one, Russell County three, and Washington County five. The Regiment was
accepted into service of the Confederate States on July 1, 1861.
Fulkerson of Washington County, Virginia left the bench to become
Robert P. Carson, also of Washington County became Lieutenant Colonel.
At the battle
Gaines Mill June 27, 1862, Colonel Fulkerson fell mortally wounded.
made necessary a readjustment of the officers in the Regiment. Captain
Henry C. Wood became Major on June 28, 1862. According to his military
record, Major Wood participated in forty-two major battles. Some of
great magnitude where Chancellorsville,
Cold Harbor, Cedar Creek and Gettysburg (3). After the battle of Cedar
Creek, Major Wood wrote the following report to his commanding officer,
Colonel A. G. Tallaferro.
Report of Major H. C. Wood,
Virginia Infantry - No. 47
Camp near Gordonsville, Virginia,
In making my
of the part acted by the Thirty-seventh regiment in the action on Cedar
Creek on the 9th instant, it is necessary for me to state that it was
in the engagement when the command devolved on me, consequently I was
informed as to the position we were to take until after we had gone on
field. Being marched into the woods in
of our batteries, we were ordered to lie down there to support them.
there for some time, very much exposed to the enemy's shells, which
continually bursting over and around, we were then ordered to the
Coming into the field, taking position on the left of the
Twenty-third Regiment (which regiment
on the extreme right of the brigade), we were marched forward, crossing
a small hollow to the brow of a low eminence, from which position the
in three columns in battle order opened fire on us, which was gallantly
returned by my men which continued, the
action soon becoming general. In this
the action continued for some time; the first line of the enemy giving
way, the second were thrown into the utmost confusion, when the left of
the regiment, being unprotected and unsupported by the Forty-seventh
Forth-eighth Alabama Regiments having given way, and being thus exposed
to a fire in front, rear, and on the left flank, was compelled to give
way, which was taken up by each company from the left, not, however,
after we received orders to fall back, which was done in tolerable good
order by most of the companies, some, however, becoming a little
I soon succeeded in rallying the men - not until a great many of them
killed by being exposed to fire from the front and left flank. As soon
as they were rallied they advanced gallantly to the contest, driving
enemy from before them in every direction.
It is proper
state here that this regiment would have been able to maintain its
had the Forty-seventh and Forty-eighth Alabama Regiments been able to
I must express
thanks to the officers and men of this regiment for the gallant manner
in which they conducted themselves so gallantly it is impossible to
particular individuals, although there were those whose gallant conduct
renders them worthy of the proudest position.
H. C. Wood,
Commanding Thirty-seventh Virginia Regiment.
Col. A. G.
Commanding Third Brigade.
Wood captured a United States Flag from a Federal officer. He kept this
flag along with a silk flag that had been given to him when he left for
service in 1861. This flag was presented to him by the ladies who had
brothers, and husbands in Company "D".
Major Wood was
wounded, first at Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862, and at Winchester
in 1864. His obituary states that he was wounded at the battle of
but I find no mention of this in his military records. However, the
records show that his brother, Captain James H. Wood was wounded in the
of Major Wood in the army was from Camp Ewell, near Burgess Mill dated
February 27, 1865 on the muster roll he is shown absent by Surgeon's
The reason was that he was sent to Willow Springs, Russell County,
to recuperate from wounds and a broken arm. Perhaps he was
here when the war ended April 9, 1865.
After the war
he returned home to Pleasant Hill. For a time he worked on the farm. He
later engaged in a successful mercantile business at Estilville.
Major Wood and
brother, Judge Martin B. Wood often engaged in land deals with General
Imboden in Wise county around Big Stone Gap. Clinton Avenue in Big
Gap was named for Major Wood and Wood Avenue was named to honor the
In 1870 Scott
was laid off into seven magisterial districts and Major Wood was a
of the Commissioners who made the division. He had the honor of naming
six of them. Powell was named for Ambrose Powell; Taylor District was
in honor of the Taylor family; Estilville District was named
for the county seat; Fulkerson District
named in honor of James and Abraham Fulkerson; Johnson District was
in honor of the Johnson Family; Floyd District was named in honor of
Floyd. Another member of the Commissioners named the district in which
he lived for a life-long friend who had the nickname "Dekalb", Dekalb
a leader in the Readjuster Party in Southwest Virginia, and was elected
to two terms in the Virginia State Senate first in December 1875
Scott and Russell Counties. He was reelected in December 1879 to
Lee, Scott, and Wise Counties and became Speaker of that body in
1881 and again in 1882. He was serving
the State Senate when Dickenson County was formed. The county seat took
his two names, "Clint Wood." (8)
In 1885 in the
Gubernatorial Campaign when Fitzhugh Lee won over John S. Wise, he was
the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. In 1892, he was
as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. In 1892, he was
as the Republican candidate for Congress from the Ninth
In 1891 Major
moved from his native Scott County to Bristol and became a leader in
business and industrial life of that city. He was Vice-President of the
Bank of Bristol. He was the first President of the South Atlantic and
Railroad, which began construction in 1877. The construction of the
was completed from Bristol to Big Stone Gap in 1890.
Major Wood was
and general manager of the Diamond Ice Company at the time of his death
on December 8, 1909. He is buried in East Hill Cemetery, Bristol,
Captain James H. Wood
was the third son of the Wood family. He was born February 22, 1842 at
Pleasant Hill, the old homestead, in Scott county, Virginia. He
the local schools of his community and
entered the Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, Virginia, July 20, 1860.
When the war
in April, 1861, he was in the second semester of his fourth class at
Institute. He went to Richmond with his fellow cadets when they were
by the Governor, to train the volunteers being recruited there for
service. He was with the Virginia Military Institute in
Richmond four months before he entered
Confederate Military service as drill sergeant. He wrote President
requesting a commission. The following is a copy of the letter: (10)
Greenbrier River, Virginia
August 31, 1861
To His Excellency President Davis
at the Virginia Military Institute two years prior to this time, I feel
desirous to enter the Confederate Army permanently. I therefore,
solicit the position of second Lieutenant in the Army of the
Very respectfully your
Cadet James H. Wood
by his superior officers as follows:
Greenbrier River, Virginia
5 September, 1861
Cadet Wood as being in every respect qualified for and worthy of the
which he seeks and am fully satisfied that the service would be
by his appointment, and I therefore, most respectfully request that he
Samuel V. Fulkerson
Col. Comd. 37th Regt. VA Vols.
great pleasure to see Cadet Wood in the Confederate service in the
he desires believing him well qualified for the position.
R. P. Carson
Leit. Col. 37th Regt. VA Vols.
Wood had been drilling the volunteers and making them into first class
soldiers. After four months he was given a furlough. He returned to his
home at Estilville. His commanding officers again wrote letters of
and sent them to his home. These letters read:
Camp Barton Greenbrier
26 October, 1861
of the county of Scott, Virginia, has been doing duty with my Regiment
for sometime in the capacity of drill sergeant. He is a cadet of the
Military Institute, and understands the duty of drilling very well. He
is a young man of unexceptionable moral character and would dutifully
with credit to himself any position which may be assigned him.
Samuel V. Fulkerson
Col. 37th Regt. VA Vols.
I concur in
R. P. Carson
Lieut. Col. 37th Reg. VA Vols.
Davis requesting a commission as captain of artillery.
Estilville Scott County, Virginia
November 25, 1861
To His Excellency,
I have an
company partly made up, composed in part of Kentucky refugees, who
forced to leave their homes almost wholly unprepared as to clothes or
are of necessity compelled to go into camp immediately and feeling
that I can get a company in a very short time. I desire that you should
commission me as captain of artillery in the Confederate States Army.
I desire a
in order that I may go into camp for the purpose of drilling my company
and the power of mustering them into service.
In regard to
qualifications I enclose a copy of recommendations signed by the field
officers of the 37th Regiment Virginia Volunteers in which regiment I
been for four months in the capacity of drill master.
I have the honor to be your
James H. Wood
his commission as first Lieutenant April 22, 1862 and was assigned to
37th Regiment Virginia Infantry, in which regiment his brother, Henry
Wood, was captain. He was promoted to Adjutant and was assigned to
Fulkerson's staff in charge of the official correspondence and
of orders of the command. He served in this capacity until June 27,
when Colonel Fulkerson was mortally wounded at the battle of Gaines
A readjustment of the officers of the Regiment was made and Lieutenant
Wood was promoted to Captain on June 28, 1862. (11)
in twenty-six major battles and many skirmishes and was twice wounded,
first at Cedar Run, August 9, 1862, and second at Chancellorsville May
2, 1863. He was captured at Spottsylvania Court House in the battle of
the Bloody Angle on May 12, 1864. It was given this name because of the
triangular position of the Confederate Army. He gives the following
of the capture:
we were moved toward the Potomac by way of Fredericksburg. When we
the Potomac on the following morning, we were placed aboard a transport
and moved down the Potomac to Point Lookout, Maryland. Here we remained
until the first of June, when we were taken in a cattle transport to
Delaware, where I was confined until my release June 13, 1865. (12)
of war, Captain Wood began the study of law, and after his release
the course. He was admitted to the Bar in 1867. Captain Wood moved to
Virginia about 1870 and opened a law office. An advertisement in the
Courier of October 25, 1873 states: James H. Wood, Attorney for Scott
Washington Counties in Virginia and Sullivan County in Tennessee.
James H. Wood
all types of clients in his career as a lawyer including a land company
that had land to sell in Lee, Scott and Wise counties. One case that
mentioning is the trial of General James A. Walker.
who led Stonewall Jackson's Cavalry at Chancellorsville after Jackson's
death, was elected to Congress in 1894 and 1896, but was defeated in
The election was contested by General Walker. During the taking of
in Bristol, on March 11, 1899, a gun battle occurred. General Walker
the counsel of his opponent and was then himself shot by the law clerk
of the counsel of his opponent.
General Walker was placed on trial. He was defended by Captain James H.
Wood. The jury acquitted General Walker after a trial that lasted
Captain Wood states that he served in the House of Delegates of
but an index of the members of the General Assembly from 1776 to 1920
not show a James H. Wood. Perhaps this was confused with his brother
Henry C. Wood who served in the State Senate.
He moved from
to Washington, DC in 1901 and formed the J. H. Wood Corporation where
became counsel for two railroads and a number of corporations. He later
became president and principal director of the Blankenship Law and
Company. Captain Wood moved to New York City about 1909 where he was
with the New York Urban Real Estate Company. His son, James H. Wood,
was president of the company (13).
New York, he wrote an account of his experience in the war which he
"The War." Captain Wood died at the home of his daughter in New York
on November 12, 1917, at the age of seventy-five. His body was returned
to Bristol for funeral and burial services. James H. Wood is buried in
East Hill Cemetery.
Judge Martin B. Wood
fourth son of James O. and Elizabeth Godsey Wood. He was born February
21, 1845, at pleasant Hill, the old homestead, located near Estilville,
Virginia in Scott County. Martin attended the "Old Field" schools which
were schools located in the fields that were so depleted they were
his sons to work on the he farm along with the slaves. Martin B. would
often slip away and hide to read. He had a great desire to learn and by
the age of eight was reading all the books of his father and
he could borrow in the community. After he completed the work of the
schools, he entered Fall Branch Seminary at Fall Branch, Tennessee in
for two years. Then he went to Jonesville, Virginia for one year. After
he had completed his school work in Jonesville, Martin became clerk in
a store at Stickleyville in Lee County with a salary of one hundred
a year. (14)
he joined the Confederate Army and was assigned to the Stonewall
Brigade in the valley of Virginia. Martin was wounded at the battle of
Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862, and for a long time, could not walk.
He was discharged from military service and returned home to Pleasant
where he remained until he entered the Virginia Military Institute,
8, 1863. Here he remained until it was burned by the Federal General
of New Market was fought, Martin B was a cadet private in Company "D."
However he was left with the guard detail at the Institute, because the
old wound in his leg prevented him form marching.
His father was
clerk of the county court of Scott county in August, 1865, and Martin
made his deputy. In 1869, his father was relieved of the office by the
military authorities. While serving as deputy clerk. Martin had studied
law and was licensed to practice. In May 1870, he was appointed clerk
the county court and in November of that year was elected for a term of
year term as county court clerk, Mr. Wood declined to be a candidate
reelection. He was elected Judge of the county court and began his term
February 10, 1880 and served until January 12, 1886. (15)
president of a stock company which was formed in 1883, that purchased
equipment. He began the publication of a newspaper called the
Age. This newspaper was published for about four years, when
Judge Wood and
brother, Major Henry C. Wood dealt in real estate in various parts of
County. They specialized in property around Moccasin Gap, Speers Ferry
and along railroad right of ways. (16)
In 1888, he
his property in Scott County and Estilville and moved to Bristol. He
the first wholesale grocery company in this area.
at his home in Bristol November 17, 1908. He was interred in the family
plot in East Hill Cemetery. He was later exhumed and reinterred in the
Caldwell-Wood Cemetery which is adjacent to the Glenwood Cemetery in
Judge wood has
monument to his grave approximately eight feet high and two feet wide,
on each of the four sides, with a genealogy of his family on three
beginning with the John Wood who came from England in 1855. On the west
side are the following inscriptions:
Lead Kindly Light
So Long Thy Power Hath Blest Me
Will Lead Me On
E'er Moor and Fen, O'er Crag
And Torrent Till
The Night is Gone
And With the Morn Those
Angel Faces Smile
Which I Have Loved Long Since
And Lost Awhile
And I Heard a Great Voice Out of Heaven
Behold the Tabernacle of God is With Men and He Will
Dwell With Them and They Shall Be His
and God Himself Shall Be With Them and Be Their God.
And God shall Wipe Away All Tears From
Eyes and There Shall Be No More Death Neither Sorrow
Nor Crying, Neither Shall There Be Any
Pain; For the Former Things Have Passed Away.
William Morison Wood
was the youngest son of James O. and Elizabeth Godsey Wood. He was born
December 21, 1846, at Pleasant Hill near Gate City. He received his
education in the old one room school, which was very common in that day.
at the Virginia Military Institute on March 3, 1864, from Glade
Virginia. This writer has not been able to determine why, but one guess
would be he was working at the salt works in Saltville, which is nearby.
Mr. Wood had
a cadet a little over two months, when at midnight May 10, 1864,
the barracks sounded a long roll on the drum. For a messenger on
horse had dashed into Lexington. A poem tell us:
One night when the boys were all abed, we heard
the long roll beat
the walls of the building shook with the
tread of hurrying feet;
And when the battalion stood in line
we heard the welcome warning;
Breckenridge needs the help of the corps;
be ready in the morning.
sleep in the barracks that night; breakfast was eaten by candlelight.
seven the Corps was off in a pouring rain. That night they camped
tents. For days it rained, but the cadets marched on until New Market
was eighteen years old at this critical period of the Civil War when he
marched with the Corp from Lexington to New Market to stop the advance
of the Federal troops, May 15, 1864. He served as cadet private in
this occasion has made the event a memorable one in Virginia war
Cadet Wood was
member of the corps for one year, but was awarded a diploma January 1,
1895. "Honoris Causa," by the board of visitors, because of honor. Mr.
Wood was honored by his Alma MaterMay 15, 1939, because he was the sole
survivor of the cadets who had fought at New Market. He was a guest of
the cadet corps for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle of New
Market and the ceremonies of the centennial of the VMI. He was then in
his ninety-fourth year.
was introduced to the audience by Col. William Cooper. 'It is my honor,
on behalf of the authorities of the institute, to introduce to you, the
last survivor of the charge of the VMI Cadets, William Morison Wood."
Wood then spoke as follows:
cadets, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honor to have the
and opportunity of being present here with you on this annual
in honor of the Cadets who, seventy-five years ago followed the flag of
the Old Dominion on the New Market battlefield, amid the rain of
and the incessant volleys of canister, grape, and exploding shells. Our
gallant commander, Colonel Shipp, was wounded and taken from the field.
a. Wise, Captain of "A" Company, assumed command and brilliantly led
battalion of youths, in triumph to achieve immortal fame and to make
for this institution that will live throughout the annals of its
their indomitable courage and deeds of daring, have elicited the
and praise of all who are familiar with the history of this
battle. But the passing of three quarters of a century has wrought
I congratulate you on your good fortune of being Cadets of this famous
In the spring
'64, General Sigel, with a well-equipped veteran army, invaded the
Shenandoah Valley, from whence and by way of which General Lee's army
receiving large supplies of food and munitions of war. The valley, at
hazards, must be defended and the invader driven from its soil.
was being hard pressed by superior numbers; to detach any considerable
number of soldiers for service elsewhere would be extremely hazardous.
Therefore, every available command from other sections was being
to meet the oncoming invader and drive him if possible, from our soil.
In this crucial dilemma, the Corps of Cadets was ordered down the
to aid in this undertaking.
Much has been
and written concerning this famous New Market Battle, some
statements have been made, but Colonel Cooper, who for many years had
much time and labor in research for facts, has just given you a most
account of the results of his long tedioius investigations, to which I
can add nothing of interest.
I will say,
that I was a member of "A" Company and on behalf of the Wood family of
Southwest Virginia, who for many years have and are still wearing the
uniform of VMI, may I be permitted to mention three brothers who fought
under Stonewall Jackson, two who attended the VMI and a grandson who is
now present, a member of "F" Company.
Thank you for
kind attention, I hope to be back again next year. (17)
Mr. Wood went into the mercantile business and for many years owned and
operated the Wood Grocery Company in Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee.
Mr. Wood died
2, 1943 at Old Hickory, Tennessee at the ripe old age of ninety-seven.
When news of his death was received at the VMI General Order No. 22 was
published. The order read: (18)
have received, with deep sorrow which will be shared by all VMI men,
of the death during the night of March second of William Morrison Wood,
the last survivor of the battalion of cadets participating in the
of New Market. In token of respect to his memory and of sympathy for
members of his family, the flag of the institute will be flown at half
staff until retreat, Thursday, the fourth instant."
By command of
General Kilbourn, his body was returned to Bristol for funeral and
in the East Hill Cemetery.
were James and Elizabeth that their five sons survived the terrible
and returned to them at the old homestead at Pleasant Hill, for one
of the men who had enlisted in the Confederate Army never came back.
The men that
from the war had no money, no credit, no accumulation of goods.
honor, dignity, and self respect, they still had. As bad as things
they did not give up or quit. Through hard work, determination and
they began to reconstruct their lives without government aid of any
It was not until 1888 that the first pension law was passed in Virginia
for disabled veterans, and not until 1900 were other veterans permitted
to apply for a pension. There is no record of any of the Wood brothers
ever receiving a pension.
We can say of
five Confederates from Pleasant Hill, as children they played together,
as young men they worked together, as soldiers they fought together. In
Mother Earth they are interred together. May God rest their souls
(1) General Services Administration,
Archives and Record Service
(2) Loving, Robert S., Double Destiny,
(3) National Archives and Record
(4) Loving, Robert S, OP CIT, pp 164-165
(5) National Archives and Record
(6) Addington, Luther F., History of
County, p. 179
(7) Addington, R. M., History of Scott
(8) Commonwealth of Virginia, Division
(9) Bristol Herald Courier, December 9,
(10) Wood, James H., The War
(11) Loving, Robert S., OP CIT
(12) National Archives and Record
(13) Letters written to General
(14) Wood, Martin B., History of the
(15) Addington, R. W., OP CIT, p. 195
(16) Deed Book 27, page 279
(17) Information from the Virginia
(18) War of the Rebellion, Official
of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume XII,
of Southwest Virginia, published by The Wise County Historical Society,
publication 13 - 1979, pages 1 to 13