by Margaret Windley, Church Historian
As the Civil War dissolves further into the past, we need to remember it was a terrible and tragic time. There were about 750,000 casualties, counting both sides. In 1865 President Andrew Johnson passed a proclamation that would offer general pardons to former enlisted CSA soldiers and low-ranking officers. Former high ranking CSA officers and others directly involved would need special pardons, which started coming a little later. All of those pardons involved signing loyalty oaths. Johnson spent much of his time as president checking the records.
Monumental had members serving both sides. Of course, not everybody fought. Some were women, children, and elderly and handicapped men. Among those who had served the Confederacy was John Luke Porter, a civilian Confederate ship's constructor who served in different CSA shipyards. His best-known work was the nation's first ironclad used in battle, Merrimac/CSS Virginia. But he designed several others as well.
Another of our Confederates was Amos Veale, who was about 12 when he joined. His parents died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1855. So he and his sisters moved in with their grandparents, Amos and Mary Anne Edwards and several cousins. According to the 1860 census, there were about 20 people living in the house. An uncle who joined with him, but whose name was not passed down in the family, promised to look after the boy. Amos served as a drummer boy and survived the war. In a letter backing up Amos' request for a pension, a fellow soldier wrote that when fighting got bad, Amos would put down his drum, pick up a rifle and fire away with the rest of the unit.
One Northern member was Samuel Woods, an enlisted man, who received a U.S. Medal of Honor for service during a battle in the Nansemond River. After the war, he was employed as a night watchman at the shipyard.
A member with Northern sympathies, John O. Lawrence, did not fight because of his age and his wife's health issues. However, he wrote a polite letter to President Abraham Lincoln, asking that West Virginia not be removed from Virginia. He may have met Lincoln a year or so earlier with a group that went up to the White House and were delayed returning home when South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter. One of Lawrence's descendants fixed up his grave and that of his wife a few years ago and we got our minister at the time, Rev. Robert Friend, to perform a dedication ceremony. John O. Lawrence was a secretary for our church and signed the names of church members and Union chaplains who raised money to give a “raised letter Bible” to blind member Fletcher Porter. The members and chaplains (obviously) supported the Union.
Another member was Caroline Porter Moore. She served in a local ecumenical aid group, the Sisters of Mercy. They took care of sick soldiers and their widows and orphans. After the war, the women formed the Ladies Memorial Aid Society and continued to be active in the community, starting with the annual Memorial Day Parade.
One of the male models representing Confederate soldiers on the CSA monument was Frank Wonycott, a member of our church. He was too young to have served in the war.. He had his daughter baptized at home. Her mother was sickly and died a year or two later. The other models were not listed as members of our church. I found the cemetery in which he and one other model, J. Shirley Hope, possibly a doctor, were buried—Oak Grove. The two others were William Henry Buchanan, apparently a great-nephew of former president James Buchanan (1856—1860), and James Nicholson, who posed in honor of a relative who was killed at the Battle of Shiloh. I couldn't find where those two models were buried.