McCarters Send Four Sons into Confederate Fray

Andrew Cole McCarter was 23 when he enlisted in the confederate Service on Feb. 20, 1863.

McCarter was born at Elk Creek in Grayson County on Jan. 2, 1840, the fifth child of Philander and Thurza McCarter. Their other children were Levi, Van Buren, Catherine Jane, William, Emily, Frank Hugh, James, Sarah, and George.

Three brothers had enlisted before him. Levi and Van Buren enlisted in Company F immediately when it was organized on April 24, 1861.

Levi, born in 1836, later served with the 14th Virginia Cavalry. He died in Smyth County in Feb. 1908, and is buried in the McCarter-Barton Cemetery near Sugar Grove.

Van Buren, was born in 1833, was on duty as a teamster when he was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. He remained with the brigade until April 1864. He is buried in Elk Creek in the Cornett Cemetery.

A third brother, William enlisted in March 1861 and was wounded at Kearneysville in 1862. He was appointed a corporal in 1863, and captured at Spotsylvania then confined at Elmira, N.Y. until June 19, 1865.

Andrew McCarter was enlisted by 1st Sgt. A.P. Bourne at Elk Creek and joined Company F. (The Grayson Dare Devils, commanded by Capt. Peyton N. Hale). Company F was one of several companies of the 4th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Others were: Company A Wythe Grays, B Fort Lewis Volunteers (Montgomery County), C Pulaski Guards, D Smyth Blues, E Montgomery Highlanders, G Montgomery Fencibles, H Rockbridge Grays, I Liberty Hall Volunteers (Rockbridge County), K Rockbridge Rifles. A four-gun battery known as artillery served with the 2600 man brigade. The regiment was organized July 1, 1861 and was a regiment of the 1st Brigade of Virginia, commanded by Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Pvt. McCarter reported to the 1st Brigade headquarters at Camp Winder in Moss Neck, a few miles south of Fredericksburg, immediately after enlisting.

Fighting resumed in the spring of 1863 on April 28 when Stonewall's Brigade marched to Hamilton's Crossing. May 1, the Brigade moved toward a small hamlet known as Chancellorsville. In the battle at Chancellorsville, the 1st Brigade lost 493 men. The 4th Va Regiment had 18 killed, 148 wounded, and three missing. Jackson died at that battle. McCarter was wounded in the leg. He was admitted to the hospital on May 10, 1863, with a bullet in his leg near the knee. He carried that bullet the rest of his life.

The Stonewall Brigade came under the command of Gen. James Alexander Walker on May 19, 1863, and marched north to Gettysburg to fight for Culps Hill. The fighting was so fierce that the brigade retreated to Benner Hill with 35 men dead, 208 wounded, and 87 missing. On July 4, the brigade crossed the Potomac River near Martinsburg near the scene of its first victory.

That winter the brigade went into winter quarters at Pisgah Church, known as Camp Stonewall for the winter of 1863-64. Most of the men were shoeless and many had not had socks for two months.

On Feb. 8, 1864, the brigade was called to repulse a raid across the Rapidan River. The Yankees were quickly driven back across the river with a loss of 17 dead and 42 prisoners. By April, the brigade knew that heavy action was soon to begin. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had taken over supreme command of the Federal Army. He had a very impressive record of winning battles.

McCarter left the Confederate service at the end of April 1864, with more than a year of military service. After the war, his family moved to Helton, N.C. and he professed faith in Christ at the Helton Church.

On Jan. 25, 1872, McCarter married Huldah J. Weiss, daughter of Auston and Synthia Weiss. They had five children -- Nolar, James, Charles, Minnie, and Emmett.

In 1877, the family moved to Washington County near Murray Field on Mill Creek in Cole, Va. He acquired several acres and was a successful farmer. He gave land to build a school and church and land for a cemetery. The church is called Lebanon United Methodist Church on the Chilhowie Circuit.

McCarter died Jan. 25, 1911 at 71 years of age. He was buried in the Lebanon Church Cemetery.

He was the great-grandfather of Bert Widener of Fancy Gap, who complied information for this article. Others providing information were: Lenora McCarter Graves, Woodlake Calif., daughter of Emmett McCarter; families of Nolar McCarter Dinkins of Chilhowie (children were Byrd Ray, Wright, Anna, and Katherine), and the 4th Va Infantry by James I Robertson, Jr.

Copyright © 1993, The Gazette, Galax, Virginia, reprinted with permission.

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