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Scott County, Virginia
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Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia

Publication No. 22 - 1988

The Nickelsville Spartan Band

By Omer C. Addington

Virginia withdrew from the Union April 17, 1861. The people of Virginia approved this act by a vote of 125,000 to 20,000. Virginia became the eighth state of the Confederate States of America.

From the time the Federal Government was established, many believed that a state had the right to withdraw from the Union if the government did not respect its rights under the constitution. For many years the people of the south had felt that the Federal government was working against their beliefs, their prosperity, their happiness and their way of life. They said they had joined the union of their own free will. They said they would not have done so if they had not believed that the constitution gave them the right to leave the union.

With this belief in mind a group of young men, in and around Nickelsville, agreed to volunteer for the Confederate Army for a period of one year. By then they believed the war would be over and the south would be victorious. However, this was not to be. Their term of enlistment would have expired in the summer of 1862.

In order to save its veteran armies, as well as to get new recruits, the Confederate government passed a conscription act, under which men between the ages of 18 and 35 years were liable for military duty. A few months afterwards by a supplemeniary act, the age limit was extended to age 45. Later, the military age was extended to include all men 17 to 50 years of age.

The men named their group the Nickelsville Spartan Band, after Sparta in ancient Greece. Sparta was the most powerful city-state of ancient Greece. It was famous for its military power and its loyal soldiers. The greatest honor that could come to a Spartan was to die in defense of his city-state.

The men of the Nickelsville Spartan Band elected their own officers, which are as follows:

Henry McConnell, captain; 1st Lt. Thomas M. Smith; 2nd Lt. Charles W. S. Harris; 2nd Lt. Jess M. Daugherty. 

Non-commissioned officers: 1st Sergeant Joshua S. Fanning; 2nd Sgt. William M. Hillman, 3rd Sgt. William H. Wampler; 4th Sgt. Nathan H. McConnell; 5th Sgt. William S. McConnell.

Corporals: 1st Cpl. William P. Harris; 2nd Cpl. Harvet P. Smith; 3rd Cpl. (to be appointed); 4th Cpl. Abraham Fuller.

Privates: Oliver P. Bond, Stephen Broadwater, James M. Culbertson, James H. Davidson, James W. Dingus, William H. Dorton, James Dulaney, John F. Elam, George Elam, Christopher Elliott, Vance V. Elliott, William V. Enoch, Fraley F. Henderson, Granville R. Fraley, Joshua D. Frazier, Westley W. Frazier, Richard Gillum, John W. Gillespie, David H. Harris, James E. Harris, Alexander Harrison, William D. Hartsock, Robert H. Hillman, David C. Horton, William Hooker, Thomas H. Jolly, David H. Lamarr, F. M. Lamarr, Thomas R. Lane, Murido Logan, John D. Kilgore, Sylvester P. McConnell, Milton McConnell, Benjamin McClelland, Samuel H. McClelland, Sam McClellan, Charles Meade, James S. Moss, George W. Moon, David Nelson, Samuel Perry, William A. Perry, Berry C. Ramey, Lewis A. Ramey, James R. Ramey, Alexander Russell, James B. Smith, James M. Smith, Robert H. Smith, William C. Smith, James W. Saunders, John M. Steffy, Pleasant Steffy, Elijah Strong, George Strong, Hiram Strong, Thomas Salyer, James D. Vermillion and William Williams.

Each member of the Spartan Band had a knapsack, made of leather or heavy oil cloth, to carry his personal belongings in such as razor, soap, towel, etc.

The mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts supplied the members of the band with food for two days travel and with a woolen blanket, or heavy cotton one, which was rolled up and carried around their shoulders.

The guns and pistols the members of the Band carried were taken from their homes, and were of different caliber and make. Most of the rifles were made by some local gunsmith and were of the cap and ball type.

The Spartan Band left Nickelsville before sunrise July 13, 1861, and marched to Abingdon, and were mustered into the Army of Virginia Volunteers the same day, and became Company H of the 48th Regiment Virginia Volunteers.

Company H became part of General Stonewall Jackson's army and fought in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862. They fought in the Batt1e of Romney, Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Cross Keys, and Port Republic, and won every battle. General Jackson moved his army so fast that his soldiers were called foot cavalry.

In the six battles mentioned above some members of the Spartan Band were killed or wounded. This so weakened Company H that its remaining members were placed in Company E of the 48th Virginia Regiment. The remaining members of the Spartan Band were present at the second battle of Manassas, or Bull Run, on August 29, 1862.

After the battle of Manassas, the armies of Generals Jackson and Lee moved southward to Fredericksburg, Virginia to stop the advance of an Union army trying to take Richmond. A great battle was fought at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg the armies of the North and South went into winter quarters, and some of the men of the Spartan Band were granted a short furlough home.

With the coming of spring in 1863, the two armies began to move. One of the greatest battles of the war took place at Chancellorsville, Virginia, May 2 and 3, 1863.

In this battle, the south lost their beloved General Stonewall Jackson. He was shot by his own men on May 2, and died eight days later. Could some of those men have been a part of the Spartan Band? Of course, we will never know.

James Ewell Brown Stuart, better known as "Jeb Stuart", took over Jackson's command and continued the fight through the next day. General Stuart and his corps fought in the Wilderness Campaign. He and some members of the Spartan Band were killed at Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864.

Shortly after the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Lee again invaded the north. A great battle was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. More members of the Spartan Band were wounded and killed. Among those killed was 1st Cpl William P. Harris. He had written to his girlfriend, Drusilla McConnell, expressing his love and affection often, and their plans after the war for their future. Months went by and she hadn't heard from him. Finally, word came that he had been killed on the battlefield at Gettysburg. Drusilla did not live long after hearing of Cpl. Harris' death. She died at age 18, perhaps of a broken heart.

After the Battle of Gettysburg and the return of General Lee's Army to Virginia, the remaining members of the Spartan Band fought in the Battle of the Wilderness May 5 and 6, 1864, Spotsylvania Courthouse May 6, 1864, Cold Harbor June 3, 1864, and the Battle of Petersburg June 15-18, 1864. This battle is known as the Battle of the Crator.

Of the seventy-six young men who had volunteered and gallantly marched off to war with pomp and ceremony, and a self-sacrificing devotion to the southern cause, only one answered muster call at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered April 19, 1865. Some had paid the supreme sacrifice, others had died of disease, and others were wounded and unfit for military service.

The one who answered muster call on April 19, 1865 was Joshua Daniel Frazier. His marriage record is recorded at the Clerk's Office at Gate City. He married Adaline Barnett in 1867.


Home ] Up ] 5-Confederates ] Kilgore Ft. House ] Catholicism ] Rafting ] Long Hunters ] Dr. McConnell ] [ Spartan Band ] Hanging Sheriffs ] W.D. Smith ] Frontier Forts ] Chief Benge ] James Boone ] Old Mills ] Whites Forge ] Whiteforge Post Office ] Samuel Smith ] James Shoemaker ] Jane and Polly ] Indian Missionary ] Patrick Porter ] Phillips Killing ] Boone Trail ] Stoney Creek Baptist ] Methodism ] Daniel Boone ] Estil Cemetery ] Scott Co. Names ] Confederate Soldiers ] Drayton Hale ] Reids Normal School ] Dr. N. Stallard ] Indian Forays ]