The Eller Chronicles
|Vol. IV NO 2. p3||THE ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION||MAY 1990|
ELLERS IN THE CIVIL WAR
Byron H. Eller, 6507 Jack Hill Drive, Oroville, 95966
[cont'd from The Eller Chronicles, Vol. III, No. 2, May 1989, pp.37-38. (David Eller and Andrew Eller, Jr.)]
It is interesting to note that the date of the death of David Eller on the "Report of Internment" is given as February 12, 1864, whereas his service record from the National Archives states it was April 8, 1864, in fact on three different forms. I'm confident they are the same David Eller, but which is correct?
Now on Andrew Eller, Jr. The service record of Andrew Jr. has been received and we continue that family's tragic tale. Andrew Jr. was born in Marion County, Indiana, on August 16, 1862. He was 19 years of age, and from his description note that he was six feet tall, which was well above the average height for men of that day. Since Andrew enlisted at the same time as his two brothers, and into the same regiment, the 79th Indiana Infantry, he would have participated in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, in October 1962, and later in the year at the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro, Tennessee). No doubt he was present in the same engagement that claimed the life of his older brother, Thomas. It is possible he was with his brother when he died.
The Union Army went into winter quarters at Murfreesboro, which became a huge Northern supply base. Here in winter camp Andrew fell ill, and on February 12, 1963, he died of typhoid fever. We noted in our last account that brother, David, also died of typhoid fourteen months later at Knoxville, Tennessee. At a later writing it is intended to explore farther the medical problems of the soldiers of the Civil War, noting especially the prevalent disease typhoid fever.
CAPTAIN CALVIN ELLER
A recent letter to Peter Lenn Eller brought a prompt reply, in which he gave a biographical sketch of his great, great grandfather, Calvin Eller, I thought it would be of interest sharing it with all the readers of the Chronicles.
First, let me call attention to the listing of Calvin Eller in B.M.E. by Hook, P. 175. There he gives Calvin, a son of Henry Eller, born 1930, married to Caroline Turner, and that he was a "Captain in the army of the Confederate States of America.." There were two Calvin Ellers in the 58th N.C. Inf., Captain Calvin Eller and private Calvin Eller, Jr. The latter soldier enlisted October 10, 1863, at Jefferson, Ashe County, N.C., and his service record states he was wounded near Bunker Hill, Virginia, May 19, 1864. It seems to me that Calvin Eller, son of Peter (G.M.E. p.174), born 1845, is the captain and the great grandfather of Peter Lenn Eller. Therefore, I believe Hook to be in error here.
Following is the written account of Calvin Eller by Peter Lynn Eller. I shall follow this story with some additional comments.
Peter Lenn(8), P.J.(7), Benjamin Harrison(6), Calvin(5), Peter(4) Henry(3), Peter(2), George Michael Eller(l)
Calvin was born January 30, 1844 in Ashe County, North Carolina, to Peter and Nancy Brooks Eller. He enlisted in the 58th N.C. State Troops, company L, on July 20, 1862. He was elected to the rank of first lieutenant by the men of his company. Sometime in mid 1863 he was promoted to the rank of captain.
During the winter of 1862 & 1863 the 58th N.C. was stationed at Big Creek Gap near Jacksboro, Tennessee. The winter was spent in outpost duty, picketing this and neighboring passes in the Cumberland Mountains. In the summer of 1863 the regiment joined the Army of Tennessee under the of General Bragg. In the battle of Chicamauga, September 18 to 20, 1863 the 58th N.C., in a charge that captured the enemy stronghold on Snodgrass Hill, suffered greatly with over one half of those that went into action being killed or wounded. Calvin was wounded in the right knee at this battle. Other battles that the 58th were involved in were the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 1863, and the battles in and around Atlanta, Georgia. Calvin was wounded once again in June 1864 during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, this time in the wrist.
In November, 1864, the regiment moved back to Tennessee. There in the Battle of Columbia the regiment captured an enemy fort and they were charged with moving the Union prisoners to Corinth, Mississippi. After being relieved of the prisoners they joined up with Hood's army and traveled by rail to Branchville, South Carolina. The regiment reached the vicinity of Columbia, S.C. in February 1865. There they had skirmishes with men of Sherman's army. Now part of General Johnston's command, the 58th N.C. prepared for it's last battle, numbering only about 300 men, at the Battle of Bentonville, N.C., on March 18, 1865. Afer this battle the men marched toward the capitol of Raleigh and on the 16th of April 1865 encamped at Greensboro, N.C. Here the regiment was selected as a guard for the large accumulation of North Carolina quartermasters stores. At Greensboro the regiment was paid in Mexican silver dollars. One dollar and fourteen cents to each officer and enlisted man present.
General Johnston's General order No. 18 announcing the surrender of the army was received on April 27, 1865. The paroles were received on May 2, 1865 and were given to the regiment which immediately as an organized body marched to Statesville where it disbanded-some marching to their homes in the mountains of Ashe and Watauga Counties. My great grandfather came back to Ashe where in 1869 he married Celia Jane Heath. They raised a large family in the Walnut Hill Township. Calvin farmed most of his life, but he was appointed a justice of the peace in the 1890s. Calvin and his wife were prominent members of the Mountain Union Baptist Church. Celia passed away on January 30, 1916, and Calvin passed way on October 18, 1920. Both are buried in the Eller Family Cemetery on the Phoenix Mountain in Ashe County, North Carolina.
Peter Lenn Eller|
P.O. Box 739
Jeffersjon, N.C. 28640
Calvin's service record obtained from the National Archives in Washington D.C. gives very little additional information to that given by Peter. Calvin was prorated to captain June 1, 1863, near Dalton, Georgia. Various papers such as officers pay accounts, and requisition form, are signed "Calvin Eller, Captain, commanding Co. L, 58th Regt. N.C. Vol., (Palmer's Partisan Rangers)". However, none of these papers are dated later than January 15, 1864. Then his service record has an entry that Captain Eller "tenders his resignation", effective October 12, 1864. No other explanation is given, nor is a muster out form with date of discharge given. If his resignation was accepted, Calvin did not continue in the service to the end of the war in April 1865.
Why did he choose to resign or leave the army? (if he did). There may be one explanation. As noted on a special form in his records, Calvin applied for a soldier's pension on July 13, 1905, by reason of wounds received 'while at Marietta, in the State of Georgia, on or about the 22nd day of June, 1864". It could be that the wound to the wrist, mentioned by Peter Lenn in his account, proved to be so serious that Calvin found it difficult to perform the duties required of a captain ding a company and chose to resign his commission and leave the army.
What were the circumstances and where was the 58th N.C. Inf. on June 22, 1864, when Calvin received his wound? During the Atlanta campaign the 58th was part of Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's Corps. On June 22, the Northern " was advancing toward Marietta, Georgia, with Atlanta as the main objective. But Hood, who had been given command of all of the Confederate forces engaged (Army of the Tennessee) decided to take the offensive and attacked the Yankees at Kolb's Farm. (Approximately 2 miles south west of Marietta). The Confederate attack was repulsed with grievous losses, the greatest number being in Calvin's division, which was now in great disarray. The Battle of Kolb's Farm is known as the "Rehearsal for Atlanta's Doon", which was eventually occupied by Sherman's troops September 2, 1864. It would be interesting to know if Calvin was with Hood's army of the Tennessee during the intervening weeks between Kolb's Farm and the fall of Atlanta, or whether his wound had incapacitated him. If Calvin left the army in October, it would have been prior to Hood's march north into Tennessee with the intention of retaking that state, and Kentucky, for the Confederacy. This campaign by Hood failed disastrously, just as the Kolb Farm attack had failed.
BEHIND THE LINES
With the Ellers in the Civil War
Byron H. Eller, 6507 Jack Hill Drive, Oroville, CA 95966
Following the Salisbury Conference Gerald, as well as other, asked if the talk on the Civil War could be made available for printing in "The Eller Chronicles". The material presented was taken from notes only, and so the thought occurred that perhaps the talk had been recorded on tape, which would have made it simpler to reproduce for printing. However, so far there is no indication that it was recorded. To comply with the requests, therefore, an attempt has been made to compile the material, at least in some similar form, with a few additional points of interest.
The reading about, and study of the Civil War for the presentation was extremely interesting, and revealing, to me. The goal to make that period of our ancestral history more meaningful and understandable has been partially achieved. The work continues, and as new information becomes available it is my intention to share it with all the readers of the "Chronicles". Several people have been most generous in sharing their own material and knowledge, and suggestions, in response to former articles and to the Salisbury presentation. However, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and express my appreciation to Madeline Fletcher, of Ft. Collins, Colorado, for making available a great amount of archival records, particularly Confederate, of Eller Soldiers, which she and her mother had gathered over several years time. This has saved much time and effort, not to mention expense, and it came in time to incorporate in the Salisbury talk.
Since the First Eller Conference was held in North Carolina it was especially enjoyable and exciting to me, for this was my first trip and introduction to the locality where many of my ancestors lived. At the same time I felt it would be appropriate to present to the participants some thoughts from a Southern aspect, and of North Carolina in particular. Some people get bored and bogged down with statistics and figures, but being a physician I have been exposed to statistics for years, and found that this was perhaps a natural place to begin in developing some concept of how that terrible conflict, the Civil War, reached down and touched the lives, not only of the individual soldier, but of entire families. This then is the study of those times and events in respect to our Eller ancestors and heritage.
With a voting population at the outbreak of the Civil War of less than 115,000, North Carolina furnished to the Confederate cause 127,000 troops (78 full regiments and some 20 battalions), or more than one fifth (20%) of the men who marched beneath the Southern cause, in addition to the Militia and Home Guards who rendered useful, though short, tours of duty, under state authority.(l) From the Confederate records in my possession, though not complete as of this date, there were 140 Ellers
on the official Confederate muster rolls during the war period. It is found that North Carolina produced 82 (59%) of these Eller soldiers. The remainder came from other states as follows: Georgia 18, Virginia 16, South Carolina 5, Missouri 5, Tennessee 5, Kentucky 1.
Statistics show that there were 94,000 confederate soldiers killed in action or mortally wounded, (one quarter of the Confederacy's white men of military age). By wars end nearly 164,000 soldiers died of wounds or disease, a staggering total of 64% of all deaths.(2) "North Carolina can never forget that in obedience to her command more than 40,000 of her bravest, best, and brightest young men fill soldier's graves".(3) A similar ratio holds for the Eller soldiers, for it is found there were 3 killed on the battle field, but 20 Ellers died of diseases in the five years of war, or 83% of the total deaths, (in contrast to the overall figure of 64%).
Many are the reasons for such a tragic number of losses due to disease. 69% of Confederate soldiers were farmers, coming mostly from small farms and rural communities. An example of such areas in the mid 19th century would certainly be Rowan, Wilkes, Ashe, and like counties of North Carolina. Rarely had these men congregated in large groups in confined space. Relatively few had been exposed to common communicable diseases, such as measles, chicken pox, mumps, or whooping cough. As a result, when they arrived by the thousands at their first encampments, they were easy prey for viruses, and bacteria, to which many of their city bred companions were immune.(4) Early in the war many of the camps were poorly positioned and kept, and an invisible enemy flourished here. Under such conditions and circumstances in these encampments, the filth, poor sanitation with little regard to camp garbage, refuse, proper positioning of latrines, adequate storage of food, heaps of manure; all added to spawn diseases such as acute and chronic diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid. Perhaps one fourth (25%) of noncombat death in the Confederacy resulted from typhoid, commonly called "camp fever".(5)
Food was frequently scarce or inadequate, of poor quality, often spoiled and infested with vermin. Drinking water became stagnant and polluted. The knowledge of infection and it's causes was still primitive. Any amputation was accompanied with almost 100% infection, or "surgical fever" as it was called, blood Poisoning, gangrene or osteomyelitis. However, as the war progressed the men became more accustomed to their circumstances, and as their systems became more immune to these afflictions, the incidence of common infections declined. In the last two years of the war as sanitation improved, along with the increased immunity, the incidence of typhoid also declined.
If you will study the accompanying chart of the twenty Ellers who died of diseases in the Civil War you will note a close relationship to the above figures relating to the medical problems current during the war's duration. Of the first twelve. men to die all occurred before February 1863, or about half way into the war. The average time from enlistment to death of these twelve Ellers was a mere 5.2 months, showing vividly that these diseases ravaging the training camps struck hardest at new recruits. Again, typhoid was the common killer, claiming seven of the twenty, or 35% (some more than the 25% mentioned above).
||Wilkes Co. NC
||Grayson Co., Va.
||Rowan Co., NC
||Catawba Co., NC
||Wilkes Co., NC
||Drewry's Bluff, Va.
||Rowan Co. NC
||Wilkes Co., NC
||Rowan Co., NC
||Mt. Jackson, Va.
||Rowan Co., NC
||Rowan Co., NC
||Wilkes Co., NC
||Rowan Co., NC
||Rowan Co., NC
||Wilkes Co., NC
|| Wounded 7/l/63 P.O.W. 7/3/63
||White Co., TN
||Yazoo City, MISS.
||Rowan Co., NC
||Rowan Co., NC
||Townes Co., Ga.
||captured, 8/16/64 Front Royal, P.O.W
||Rowan Co., NC
|| Captured, 6/3/64 Cold Harbor, Va..
Then you will note that the last eight men had an average time of 21 months from mustering in to time of death, a decided difference to the first twelve men. Of interest are the final two men who died within a month of each other while prisoners of war in the Elmira, New York, prison camp. The cause of death given as "variola" is the old term for "small pox". Indeed, small pox was a dreaded disease that occurred in epidemics, not only in prison camps but in army camps as well. As of this time I have not found a record of a typhoid epidemic at Elmira prison camp during the winter of 1864/65, but it is written that there were 793 cases of scurvy reported that winter, due to the lack of vegetables.(6)
"if there was a hell on earth", wrote a Texan, "Elmira prison was that hell. No compound struck a deeper chill into the hearts of Confederate soldiers". Opened in July 1864, it occupied 30 acres along New York's Chemung River .... In December 1864, it was reported that more than 1,000 of the prisoners at Elmira had inadequate clothing and no blankets.... Small wonder that for six of it's 12 months of existence, Elmira led all Northern prisons in it's death rate, an average of 10 a day .... By the time Elmira closed it's gates in the s r of 1865, more than 12,000 Confederates had dwelt within it's stockade; almost 3,000 of them had died there.(7)
As mentioned previously it was thought to be appropriate to bring before those attending the conference something special about North Carolina troops since the conference was being held in North Carolina, and doubtless the majority of the attendees would be North Carolinians. For scan time I had been thinking on this subject, when I noted inscribed on the cover of the five volumes of Clark's North Carolina Regiments this motto, "First at Bethel, Farthest to the Front at Gettysburg and Chicamauga, last at Appomattox". This caught my eye and interest, and in pursuing the subject decided that this might be an appropriate subject for the conference, especially if Ellers were found to be involved at these times and places.
FIRST AT BETHEL
Even before North Carolina had secceeded from the Union this state had organized the lst Regiment, North Carolina Infantry, but the service of the regiment was not to exceed six months.(8) Following the Union advance up the Virginia peninsula, North Carolina responded to a request to help meet that threat. It did so by sending this 800 man regiment to the peninsula, and it became the primary organization involved in the skirmish known as the "Battle of Big Bethel" which took place near the Big Bethel Church, 13 miles from Yorktown, Virginia. It is generally admitted that a Young North Carolina soldier, by the name of Henry L. Wyatt, of Company A, was the first Confederate soldier killed in action during the Civil War.(9) Hence the saying "First at Bethel". No Ellers are found to have participated in the Battle of Big Bethel, though three Ellers joined that regiment after it's six month term of service had expired, and it became known as the lst Regiment North Carolina State Troops.
FARTHEST TO THE FRONT AT GETTYSBURG
This claim has been made by North Carolinians since the ill fated charge by Pickett's division up Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863. It has also been discussed and challenged by men at that time, and by veteran groups during their years of gatherings and conventions following the war. Today it is still written about in Civil War Books and magazines, with supposedly new light and data being discovered. Virginians especially have taken umbrage at this claim. What is the fact and what is fabrication? Was it Pickett's (Virginians), or Pettigrew's (North Carolinians) division who broke first at the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge? Pickett and Pettigrew both suffered terrible losses. One of Pettigrew's regiments, the 26th North Carolina Infantry, had 588 casualties out of 800 men engaged. Co. F, of the regiment lost all 91 of it's members in the charge.(l0)
Since there were four Ellers in the 26th NC Infantry, we will pursue in particular the history and experiences of this regiment. The 26th NC was organized at "Camp of Instruction", Crab Tree NC, 3 miles from Raleigh, July and August, 1861, 10 companies from 10 different North Carolina counties, including Wilkes County "Wilkes Volunteers", Ashe County "Jeff Davis Mountaineers", Union County "Waxhaw Jackson Guards", Wake County "Wake Guards". At it's full complement, it numbered 1,898 men, which was more than was enrolled in any regiment furnished the Confederate armies from North Carolina. It remained on active duty in North Carolina until May 1863, when it was sent to Virginia to be part of the Army of Northern Virginia, and ready for the participation of Lee's invasion of the North. On July 1, 1863 at McPherson's Woods, Gettysburg battlefield, it was actively engaged against Meredith's "Iron Brigade". Here of the 800 men available for the action, 588 became casualties.(l1) On July 3rd the 26th NC with it's 200 remaining ran were to participate in the final great effort of the battle, which ever after has been known as "Pickett's Charge". Pettigrew, with the 26th, advanced surprisingly farther than those of Pickett's c d. The flag of the 26th was planted on the wall near Arnold's Battery, some 200 feet or more beyond the stone wall where Pickett's force was stopped, or at least 100 feet farther than the deepest penetration by the Virginians.(l2) The color bearer of the 26th was shot down while attempting to plant the flag on the wall. Only two men reached the wall. The Yankees induced the two to surrender.(l3)
Seventy men of the 26th made it back to the Confederate lines, the remainder were killed or captured. The official records disclose that 126 men remained missing, all supposedly captured on the 3rd day of the battle. The c ding officer of the 26th, Col. Henry Burgwyn, Jr., was mortally wounded at Gettysburg (July lst) known as "the boy Colonel of the Confederacy", being only 21 years of age, probably the youngest officer of his rank in the Confederate army. "He had died a hero's death leading the 26th NC into action. The 26th was virtually destroyed on that fateful first day at Gettysburg in it's fight ... The gallantry of that assault and the sheer courage of sustained attack in the face of almost hopeless odds have few, if any, counter parts in military history".(l4) The casualty figures for the two days of battle (July 1 &3) make the 26th NC the most casualties suffered during a single battle by a Confederate unit in the Civil War. (86 killed, 588 wounded).(l5)
We become interested in these accounts of heroism, suffering and loss when we are aware of the fact that the following Ellers were members of this, the most famous and celebrated Confederate regiment.
- Jacob M.(5), Jacob(4), Peter Jr.(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co.C, 26th NC Inf.
Jacob deserted his company on June 16, 1863 just prior to the movement of the Confederate army into Pennsylvania. He did return to duty with his unit and was wounded on May 5, 1864, in the Battle of the Wilderness. He returned to duty again after his wounding and was captured by the enemy near Petersburg, Virginia, March 25, 1865.
- James F.(5), Nancy(4), Peter Jr.(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. B, 26th NC Inf.
He deserted on April 13, 1863, also absent for the Gettysburg campaign. Returned to duty later, but again deserted and remained A.W.O.L. throughout most of the remainder of the war.
- James Madison(5), Absolom(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. C, 26th NC Inf.
James Madison was from Wilkes County where he enlisted June 12, 1861, at the age of 23. He was captured at Gettysburg on July 3rd. Perhaps we can imagine this brave soldier as being one of those 200 remaining in his regiment after the terrible slaughter of July lst at McPherson's Woods, and being a participant in the heroic charge under Pettigrew up to or near the stone wall, only to be one of the 126 captured when that charge eventually was repulsed. This soldier remained a prisoner of war and was exchanged February 18, 1865. He married Louisa Vannoy, February 8, 1867, at Jefferson, Ashe Co., NC.
- Leander(5), Nancy(4), Peter Jr.(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. C, 26th NC Inf.
(a brother of James F., see above) Leander, also from Wilkes County, was captured the same date as James Madison. Their experiences paralleled each other as to prisons and date of parole. Leander and Loderma Nicholls were married March 21, 1865, in Wilkes County, NC.
Now comes an admitted problem. After the presentation of the above at the Salisbury conference, Bob and Gwyn Eller volunteered the interesting information that he was a descendant of Nancy Eller, through her son James Eller, and his son Thomas Gaither Eller, Bob's grandfather. Bob states that James Eller, (G.M.E., by Hook, p. 128) by tradition had the middle name of Madison, whereas I had thought the middle initial was F, or Y. Thomas Madison (Hook, p. 85) was a son of Absolam. Both James were from Wilkes County, both born in 1840, and both were in the 26th NC regiment according to the National Archives records. But Hook has no comment that either were participants in the Civil War. If anyone has enlightenment on this question, both Bob and I would welcome any clarification.
FARTHEST AT CHICAMAUGA
Out of the 78 North Carolina regiments engaged in the Army of the Confederacy, only 7 were sent to participate in the battles of the Western theater. Since only one of the seven regiments contained members of the Eller family remarks will be limited to that regiment. The 58th regiment was organized in Mitchell County, North Carolina, July 24, 1862. Several counties were represented in this regiment, but the Ellers came from Watauga and Ashe Counties. In fact the captain of Company L, was Calvin Eller, of Ashe county (more on him later). The Brigade commander was Brigadier General John H. Kelly, 23 years old, making him the youngest general officer in the Confederate army, whereas Henry Burgwyn, Jr, as already noted, was the youngest regimental commander, (Colonel)
The claim made by North Carolina, "the farthest at Chicamauga" involves the very critical action on an elevated prominence that was known as Snodgrass Hill, September 20, 1863. "In the attack on Snodgrass Hill, from 2:00 p.m., continuing until well after dark, the Union line was subjected to an unremitting series of vigorous assaults by Longstreet's entire wing. This attack was probably the single most devastating battlefield offensive of the war; more effective even than Jackson's coup at Chancellorsville. Only the last minute arrival of Union Brig. Gen. James B. Steedman's division restored the precarious balance and prevented an irretrievable Union disaster.(l6) As General George Thomas (general commanding all Union forces late this afternoon) began to withdraw from Snodgrass Hill after 6:00 p.m., three Union regiments were captured nearly intact by Kelly's brigade, with the 58th a part.(l7)
In the charge that captured the Union stronghold at the close of that eventful Sunday, the loss in killed and wounded was over one half of those carried into action .... the casualties in the 58th regiment exceeded the combined loss of the other regiments of the brigade. This was absolute, unarguable defeat for the Yankees. But the Army of Tennessee knew how to enjoy it's first grand victory. Chicamauga, probably the greatest and certainly the bloodiest of all the battles won by the South. It was in brief the largest haul ever made by either side on a single field of battle.(l8)
The roster of the 58th NC Inf. Regiment contains 6 Ellers.
- Alfred P. (ancestral line not known)
Pvt., Co. I, 58th NC Inf.
Enlisted August 5, 1862. This entry was found on his service record. "A.P. Eller deserted the 20th Sept. 63, (actually the day of the battle described above), not dropped from the roll but expect him to return again". Alfred did return, and was present until he was captured near Marietta, Georgia, July 23, 1864.
- Calvin(4), Hen:ry(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. L, 58th NC Inf.
- Calvin(5), Peter Jr.(4), Henry(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Capt., Co. L, 58th NC Inf.
Again I have run into difficulty identifying for a certainty the lineage of the two Calvin Ellers mentioned here. Hook makes mention of the first named Calvin on p. 175, and the second on p. 174. Peter Lenn Eller of Jefferson, NC, and Loveta Schweers of Salisbury, MD, are great grand children of Captain Eller and they have been generous as well as helpful in obtaining historical background on Capt. Calvin.
Capt. Calvin Eller enlisted July 20, 1862, from Jefferson, Ashe County, NC. He participated in the charge on Snodgrass Hill, reaching the crest of the hill with his regiment at sunset of September 20, 1863. On June 1, 1864 he was promoted to captain, but resigned his commission on October 12, 1864.
- Jacob (anestral line not found)
Sgt., Co. L, 58th NC Inf.
This man is possibly a brother of William, below. They enlisted on the same date, at the same place, and deserted first time the same day, June 26, 1863. He was reduced in rating to private but returned to duty on June 19, 1863, and it is probable that he was present at the Battle of Chicamauga.
- Peter (ancestral line not known)
Pvt., Co. G, 58th NC Inf.
Born 1825 in Wilkes county, NC. Did not enlist until October 25, 1863,.or one month after the Battle of Chicamauga.
- William (ancestral line not found)
Pvt., Co. L, 58th NC Inf.
Enlisted July 20, 1862, Ashe County NC. His service record makes mention of deserting his company on three different occasions, one being at the time of the Battle of Chicamauga. He was court martialed February 8, 1864, probably for being A.W.O.L. at that time.
LAST AT APPOMATTOX
After four long years of death, disease, and destruction, the Civil War was finally coming to an end in an obscure little village in Virginia's hinterland, Appomattox Court House. The Army of Northern Virginia, hungry, exhausted, and dispirited, had come here. An apprehensive calm brooded over the army. To the southwest the enemy now held Appomattox Station, some five miles away. At General Bryan Grimes urging it was finally decided to make one last attempt in the morning to break through the Union force in front, despite the fact that Lee had probably less then 30,000 effective armed men and was faced by more than 60,000.
Lee's cap was astir in the pre dawn darkness of Sunday, April 9. General Grimes, with General John B. Gordon's and General Robert E. Lee's acquiescens, took upon himself to make one final charge, endeavoring to break through the Union cavalry that was in front. For a brief moment the road to escape seemed to be open, but the last brave charge failed, the final effort ever to be made by the army of General Robert E. Lee. "Their last hope is gone, It is the end!"
In the decimated division commanded by Bryan Grimes were the remains of several North Carolina regiments. The regiment of particular interest to the Ellers would be the 53rd NC Infantry. This regiment had the highest number of Eller soldiers of any similar unit, either Confederate or Union. The 53rd was mustered in the latter part of the winter and first part of the spring of 1862, and was organized at Camp Mangun, near Raleigh, the first week in May, 1862. It was made up of men from near a dozen different counties, but the nine Ellers all cane from Wilkes county. As a regiment in The Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, it had participated in many of the important battles of that army. As we review the service records of these 9 men we can't help but be impressed and saddened by the high attrition rate due to illness, and death itself.
- David H.(5), Simeon(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Sgt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Born July 10, 1830. He married Mary (Polly) McNeil February 1, 1854.
Enlisted March 26, 1862, at the age of 31 years. he was sick one week with the "fever", and died September 13, 1862, near Dewry's Bluff, Virginia. He is interred in the New Hope Cemetery,
Wilkes County. His grave site was viewed by a half dozen descendants of Simeon Eller following the Salisbury conference. Unfortunately the head stone is in disrepair, broken in half. This sad condition concerns those that were present that day who would be interested in seeing proper repairs completed. If you have any suggestion please let us know.
- Francis(5), Absolam(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Enlisted September 13, 1862, by Capt. Jesse F. Eller, at age 30 years. This soldier had considerable illness from time of enlistment through February 1864, then was A.W.O.L. from October 1864, and no more information is given.
- Harrison H.(5), William(4), Peter Jr.(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Enlisted November 3, 1862 at age 21 years. He was A.W.O.L. for six months in 1863. Was court martialed, penalty not given. Ill in Hospital in Richmond, Va., from May 19, 1864, and was captured by the enemy near Petersburg, Virginia, November 25, 1864.
- Harvey G. (ancestral line not found)
Pvt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Enlisted February 12, 1862. Died at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia, November 21, 1862, diagnosed as pneumonia and typhoid fever.
- James(5), Simeon(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
age 23 years, attempted enlistment, but was rejected for reason of disability. Type of disability is not known. James was not deterred in his desire to help in the Southern cause, eventually being active in combating organized bands of "bushwhackers", and guerrillas that became destructive in his part of North Carolina.
- Jesse Franklin(5), Simeon(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael)l)
Capt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Captain Eller assisted in organizing Co. K, of the 53rd NC infantry regiment, and was commissioned a first Lieutenant. He was promoted to captain after the death of the company commander at Gettysburg. On May 9, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness, he was severely wounded in the right shoulder. Jesse F. was still in c d of what remained of his company, and was present for the surrender at Appomattox Court House.
- Mathis (ancestral line not found) unless this Mathis is Matthias: Matthias(5), Absolm(4), John(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
See G.M.E. by Hook, p. 85. Both Mathis (by service record) and Matthias were born in Wilkes county. Their age would be near the same: Hook states Matthias was born March 22, 1831, and his service record states that Mathis was 34 years old, March 25, 1862. Mathis was wounded slightly July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, and was captured July 7, at Williamsport, MD. He was sent to Harrisburg, PA, and died there September 25, 1863, of acute diarrhea.
- William A.(5), William(4), Peter Jr.(3), Peter(2), George Michael(l).
Pvt., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Applied for active service February 25, 1862, but was rejected, probably under age. (16 years of age)
- Willian H. (ancestral line not positively found, or possibly is:
Willian Harrison(5), Absolcm(4), John(3), Peter(2) George Michael(l).
Corp., Co. K, 53rd NC Inf.
Born September 16, 1843, brothers: Matthias, and Francis, both of 53rd
and James Madison of the 26th NC. He enlisted February 26, 1862 at the age of 18 years. By April 1864 he bad attained the rating of 5th Sergeant. He was killed in action near Washington City (D.C.), July 13, 1864, being one of the three Ellers actually killed on the field of battle.
It is generally considered that full strength of a Confederate brigade consisted of about 4,000 men, and that of a regiment, 1,000 men. In actuality it was rarely at these numbers due to illness, casualties, deaths, furloughs, desertions, and end of enlistments.(l9) However, available figures show how these problems had compounded by the time of the Appomattox surrender. The total number of North Carolina troops paroled at Appomattox numbered 5,012 men. Grimes' Brigade could muster only 34 officers and 493 men (about 10% of full strength). The 53rd NC Regiment, which was now in Grimes' Brigade, had 81 soldiers present. Captain Jesse F. Eller was commanding officer of Co. K, but had only 3 men in his command.(20) There were two other North Carolina Ellers present and listed as parolees of the Amy of Northern Virginia, surrendered by General Robert E. Lee April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, but that is a story for another "Chronicles" issue.
After the presentation of the above subject matter at the Salisbury conference, Lowell Eller, of Salem, Virginia, asked me if I had ever visited the Appomattox Court House National Military Park. If not he suggested that I would be highly interested in doing so, especially noting the North Carolina monument erected c rating the North Carolina troops surrendered there. I assured him I would do this since it was planned to visit that place after the conference. To be sure seeing and reading the inscriptions on that monument meant much to me after the study and preparation of the material presented, for there on granite for all viewers to see were these words: "First at Bethel, Farthest to the Front at Gettysburg and Chickamauga. Last at Appomattox". Inscribed on the north face of the monument were the words that will be found on the following page.
It will be noted that nothing has been given or said of the Ellers in the Union forces who fought in the Civil War. This is an entirely different subject. Though the number of men were fewer and the information on them scantier, there are just as fascinating facts and findings which can be assembled and presented at a future time, provided, that is, people are still willing to read on. That is all for this time from "Behind the Lines" with the Ellers at Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Appomattox.
LAST AT APPCMATT'OX
At this place the North Carolina Brigade of Brigadier General
W.R. Cox of Grimes Division fired the last volley 9 April 1865.
Maj. Gen. Bryan Grimes of North Carolina planned the last battle
fought by the Army of Virginia, and commanded the infantry
engaged here in the greater part of whom were North Carolinians.
This stone is erected by the authority of
THE CENERAL ASSEMBLY
in grateful and perpetual memory of the
valor, endurance and patriotism
of her sons
who followed with unshaken fidelity the
fortunes of the Confederacy to this closing scene,
faithful to the end.
erected 9 April 1905
North Carolina Appomattox Commission
- 1. Clark, Walter, North Carolina Regiments: 1861 to 1865, Vol. I, P. V, VI.
- 2. Civil War Times Illustrated, October 1984, p. 18.
- 3. Clark, Walter, N.C. Regiments: 1861 to 165, Vol. I, p. VI
- 4. Time/Life Books, Tenting Tonight, p. 78.
- 5. Ibid, p. 78.
- 6. Encyclopedia of the Civil War, Historical Times, Faust, P., Editor, p. 241.
- 7. Time/Life Books, Tenting Tonight, p. 128, 129.
- 8. North Carolina Troops, a Roster, Compiled by Manarin, L.H., Vol. III, P. 1.
- 9. Clark, Walter, N.C. Regiments: 1961 to 165, Vol. V, p. 577.
- 10 C.W.T.I., March 1986, p. 10.
- 11. Ibid, Summer 1987, p. 29.
- 12. Blue and Gray Magazine, July 1985, p. 48.
- 13. Gettysburg Campaign, (Great Military Campaigns of History), p. 156.
- 14. Davis, Archie K., Boy Colonel of the Confederacy, Univ. of N.C. Press, p. 4.
- 15. Time/Life Books, Index, p. 143.
- 16. Johnson, C, & McLaughlin, J., Civil War Battles, The Fairfax Press/ New York, p. 104.
- 17. Tucker, Glenn, C.W.T.I., (Special edition), Battle of Chickamauga.
- 18. Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, a Narrative, Fredericksburg to Meridian, p. 752, 753.
- 19. McPherson James M., Battle Cry of Freedom, Oxford Univ. Press, N.Y., p. 330.
- 20. Clark, Walter, N.C. Regiments; Vol. V, p. 494, 502.
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