March 19, 2013

Larkin Coffey & his death at Point Lookout, MD

There were a number of Coffey men named Larkin.  Sometimes, it is very difficult to separate them because many of them were born around the same time and at the same place.  For example, there was Larkin, born c1834 in NC, enlisted in the CSA on May 7, 1862; Larkin, born c1841 who enlisted in the CSA on Mar. 19, 1862 and Larkin, born c1845 who enlisted in the CSA on Apr. 2, 1863, all in Caldwell Co., NC.

The Larkin who is the subject of this blog was born to William Coffey, Jr. and his wife, Margaret Robbins on Jun. 7, 1840.[1]  He was 21 years old at the time of his enlistment in Co. A., of the 22d North Carolina Infantry Regiment on Mar. 19, 1862 and, died on Aug. 4, 1864 at that infamous Union POW camp at Point Lookout in St. Marys Co., MD.

Wikipedia tells us that Point Lookout was located on a Maryland peninsula formed by the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Potomac River on the other.  Between 1863 and 1865 more than 50,000 Confederate soldiers were held in a prison originally designed to hold only 10,000.  Estimates, which are probably short of accurate, tell us that nearly 4,000 soldiers died there, mostly as a result of over crowding, poor sanitation, starvation, thirst, and exposure.

The State of Maryland turned this historic site into a state park some years ago.  Tourists, fishermen, campers, etc. roam the area today.  It is only one of many places made infamous by the North for mistreatment and death of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War where the federal government has banned the display of the Confederate Stars and Bars battle flag[2].

According to another website entitled The American Civil War, Point Lookout was established after the Battle of Gettysburg when it was discovered that Union forces did not have enough camps to hold all of the prisoners.  It also tells us that there were two fenced prison areas; one 30 acres in size, the other 10 acres.  One camp contained enlisted while the other contained officers. The landscape was sandy and barren.  There were no trees or shrubs.  It has since become known as one of the worst Union POW camps to have existed.

Much of the peninsular has been lost to the sea by erosion and, includes many of the sites where Confederate soldiers were buried.

Based upon the guard make up, the Union obviously intended to punish the Southern soldiers as harshly as possible   According to the American Civil War web site, the units assigned to guard the prisoners were, at various times, the 36th Colored Inf. Regt., the 5th Mass. Colored Cav., the 3rd and 4th Maryland Colored Regts., and the 24th and 28th Colored Inf. Regts.

The 22d NC Infantry Regiment has a long and valiant history.  It fought in most of the major battles of the Civil War, including Chickahominy River, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Seven Pines, Richmond and Petersburg,  Malvern Hill, Cedar Mountain, 2d Manassas, Sharpsburg as well as Gettusburg.  They also fought at Chancellorsville, Drewry's Bluff, and Harpers Ferry, to name a few.

Photo by Brent Coffey
Photo by Brent Coffey
According to his company muster roll, Larkin went missing in action on May 12, 1864.  From May 8 to 21 of that year, the 22d was engaged in the battle of Spotsylvania Court House where he was likely taken prisoner.  Within three months the Union Army finished his young life and buried him in "yankee" soil.

On a bronze casting containing the names of those who died at Point Lookout can be found the name of Larkin and the unit he fought with.  It is attached at the base of an 80' tall granite obelisk built in about 1910 by the federal government.

Check out this video on Youtube for a review of a relatively new memorial and Point Lookout.  Note the Stars and Bars flying above the other flags in the circle.

Larkin was not the only son that William and Margaret lost to the Confederate cause.  Their son Elbert, born in Jan., 1837 died of disease at Big Creek Gap in Campbell Co., TN and was buried at the Delap Cemetery  in La Follette, Campbell Co.

Confederate Grave Yard found in Campbell County[3]

Two women’s efforts lead to discovery of burial ground

For some forgotten soldiers in Campbell County, it took the chance meeting of two women to uncover a treasure trove of history.

Alice Coker knew the cemetery was there and that Bob Delay and several others kept it in excellent shape until the 1960s.  Coker used to visit the cemetery and always wondered why there were so many sunken graves and who was buried in them.  Bob Delay told her he had heard that there was a Civil War encampment at the foot of Pine Mountain near a big spring and that many of the soldiers had sickened and died.

Coker says, “I always thought I’d find time to do some research but I never did.”

Some 40 years later the second piece of the puzzle dropped into her lap.  In December 2002 a woman by the name of Leda Cornett from North Carolina walked into the Campbell County Historical Museum and said she believed that her grandfather was buried in Delap Cemetery.  Sara Chaniott was on duty that day and was one of the few people who knew about the old neglected cemetery.  Sara called Alice and Alice said “Please send the lady to my house as soon as possible.”

From the visitor Coker learned that records showed members of the 58th Regiment of the Confederate Army of North Carolina [1] were buried at Delap.  From these bits of information an image began to swirl into focus.

“The winter of 1862-1863 at Delay was a very harsh winter,” Coker found after doing more research.  “Over 1000 men came from Cumberland Gap, where two Tennesseans had joined the troops. (The regiment was formed at Camp Martin in Mitchell County, NC.).  The regiment was assigned to guard Big Creek Gap.”

Records show that a total of 50 men died while camped in the Jacksboro area.

Recently, county prisoners, under the supervision of Environmental Officer Glennis Monday, began the slow arduous process of clearing the ground.  Eighty loads of brush have been removed from the cemetery.  The needs for preserving this cemetery, however, are still many:  including chemicals to kill the roots of plants that have been cut down, road work, fill dirt, and a fence with a strong gate.  Bob Andreas, County Veterans’ Service Officer, made arrangements for the fifty military headstones which have already been delivered.

This Memorial Day these once “lost” soldiers can rest in peace.  Although they were never completely forgotten, their remains will soon be marked with tombstones after more than 140 years.  Now, their families have a place to come and honor their ancestors thanks to two determined women who never forgot.

A fund has been set up at Peoples Nation Bank, Civil War- Delay, 2300 Jacksboro Pike, P.O. Box 1221, Lafollette, TN 37766.

The following list is the fifty men from the North Carolina 58th Regiment (Confederate) who are believed to have died and are buried in Delay Cemetery, Campbell County, TN.

BAIRD, John H. Private (Company D)
Enlisted in Watauga County on June 7, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN prior to March 2, 1863.  Date and cause of death not reported.

BAKER, Newton A., Private (Company B)
Born in Yancey County and enlisted in Mitchell County at age 25, May 17, 1862.  Mustered in as Private.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Promoted to Corporal prior to March 1, 1863.  Reduced in rank on an unspecified date.  Died at Jacksboro, TN March 24, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

BROWN, William L, Private (Company H)
Resided in Watauga County where he enlisted on August 5, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died in hospital at Jacksboro, TN March 18, 1863, of “brain fever”.

BURLESON, Jason E., Private, (Company K, Previously Company E)
Previously served as Private in Company E of this regiment.  Transferred to this company on or about July 29, 1862. Died at Jacksboro, TN, February 5, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

CRAWFORD, James M, Private (Company C)
Born in Yancey County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County on July 12, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 21, 1863 of disease.  Was 25 years of age at the time of his death.

COFFEY, Elbert, Private (Company E)
Born in Caldwell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County at age 25, July 5 1862.  Reported present in January – April 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, May 15, 1863 of disease.

COFFEY, Jesse F[inley], Private (Company E)
Born in Caldwell County where he resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County at the age of 20, July 25, 1862.  Reported present in January – February 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, March 7, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

EGGERS, Adam, Corporal (Company D)
Born on July 23, 1831.  Resided in Watauga County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Watauga County at age 30, July 7, 1862.  Promotion record not reported.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 2, 1863 of “fever”.

FRANKLIN, Samuel D., Private (Company A)
Enlisted on December 30, 1861.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, prior to March 20, 1863.  Date and cause of death not reported.

GARLAND, Hodge R., Private (Company B)
Born in Burke County and resided in Mitchell or Yancey County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Mitchell County at age 52, May 17, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 30, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

GLENN, Dudley G., Private (Company D)
Resided in Watauga County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Watauga County at age 21, June 27, 1862.  Died in Tennessee in October, 1862 of “sickness”.

GREEN, Larkin, Private (Company E)
Previously served as Private in Company D of this regiment.  Transferred to this company on or about July 29, 1862.  Died at Cumberland Gap, TN or Big Creek Gap, TN on or about November 18, 1862.  Cause of death not reported.

GRIFFIN, Stephen R., Private (Company G)
Born in Stanly County and resided in Caldwell County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County on July 16, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died in hospital at Jacksboro, TN, April 1, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.  Was 25 years of age at the time of his death.

GRUBB, Phillip H., Private (Company D)
Enlisted in Watauga County on November 7, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at “Jackson” (probably Jacksboro) TN, February 27, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

HARTLEY, Nathan, Private (Company E)
Resided in Caldwell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting at “Alexander” at age 28, July 5, 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN on an unspecified date (probably in the autumn of 1862).  Cause of death not reported.

HAYES, Jacob S., Private (Company D)
Born in Watauga County where he enlisted on July 7, 1862.  Died in Tennessee prior to February 4, 1863.  Date and cause of death not reported.

HICKS, Harmon, Private (Company D)
Born in Watauga County where he enlisted on June 27, 1862. Died at Big Creek Gap, TN prior to March 2, 1863.  Date and cause of death not reported.

HORN, Hilliard, Private (Company B)
Resided in Mitchell or Yancey County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Mitchell County at the age of 36.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, March 11, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

HUNTER, John W., Private (Company C)
Born in Burke County and resided in Yancey County where he was by occupation a carpenter or farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 18, May 29, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 4, 1863 of “fever”.

JANES, Losen M., Private (Company F)
Enlisted at Cumberland Gap, TN, September 30, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, February 27, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

JEMERSON, John, Private (Company F)
Born in McDowell County where he resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in McDowell County at age 24,  July 14, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, February 11, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

JOHNSON, Jacob, Sr., Private (Company D)
Enlisted in Watauga County on June 27, 1862.  Transferred to Company I of this regiment on or about July 24, 1862.  Transferred back to this company prior to December 22, 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN prior to March 11, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

JOHNSON, Madison, Private (Company D)
Resided in Watauga County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Watauga County at age 44, June 27, 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN prior to March 2, 1863.  Date and cause of death not reported.

JONES, Larkin G., Private (Company M)
Enlisted in Watauga County on September 26, 1862.  Died in hospital at Jacksboro, TN, March 31, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

JONES, William, Musician (Company C)
Born in Wilkes County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 32, May 29, 1862.  Mustered in as Musician (Drummer).  Appointed Musician (Fifer) on an unspecified date.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 14, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

MASSEY, J.H., Private (Company F)
Enlisted at Cumberland Gap, TN, October 1, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, March 17, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

McINTOSH, William M., Private (Company C)
Enlisted in Yancey County on July 12, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 5, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

McKINNEY, Thomas, Private (Company A)
Resided in Mitchell or McDowell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Mitchell county at age 28, July 16, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN in March 1863 of “fever”.

McVAY, John, Private (Company B)
Born in Yancey County and enlisted in Mitchell County at age 21, May 17, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died in hospital at Jacksboro, TN, March 24, 1863, of “measles”.

MICHAEL, John, Private (Company I)
Enlisted in Watauga County on August 5, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died in hospital at Jacksboro, TN, March 31, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

MILLER, David D., Private (Company I)
Resided in Watauga County and was by occupation a “domestic” prior to enlisting in Watauga County at age 18, July 15, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died in camp at Big Creek Gap, TN, March 7, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

NICHOLS, William A., Private (Company F)
Enlisted in Yancey County on July 12, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, March 15, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

NORRIS, John, Private (Company I)
Resided in Watauga County and was by occupation a “domestic” prior to enlisting in Watauga County at age 18, July 15, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, March 3, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

OWENSBY, Aaron Whitenton, Private (Company F)
Born in McDowell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in McDowell County at age 26, July 14, 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, January 6, 1863, of disease.

PHILLIPS, John W., Private (Company C)
Born in Yancey County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 20, May 29, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, February 20, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

PHIPPS, Conarah D., Private (Company C)
Born in Yancey County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 27, May 29, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, January 2, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

PRESNELL, David., Private (Company C)
Born in Yancey County and enlisted in July 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap December 1, 1862 of pneumonia and measles.  (Addition to original list submitted by Lowell Presnell, October 2004)

PROFFITT, Jesse, Private (Company I)
Enlisted in Watauga County at age 19, July 15, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, March 29, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

SHEPHERD, Grandison, Private (Company C)
Born in Yancey County where he resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in Yancey County at age 35, June 16, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, November 20, 1862 of “measles”.

SMITH, James A., Private (Company I)
Enlisted in Watauga County on August 5, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, March 19, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

STEWARD, Joseph, Private (Company A)
Enlisted in Mitchell County on July 18, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, March 31, 1863, of “fever”.

TOWERY, Edward, Private.  (Company F)
Born in McDowell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in McDowell County at age 32, July 14, 1862.  Died in TN on November 15, 1862 of “measles”.

TREADWAY, William, Private (Company L)
Resided in Ashe County where he enlisted on July 20, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, March 19, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

WATSON, Alfred, Private (Company M)
Enlisted in Watauga County on September 26, 1862.  Died at Big Creek Gap, TN, February 19, 1863, of “brain fever”.

WILSON, Edward M., Private (Company C)
Enlisted in Yancey County on May 29, 1862.  Died at Jacksboro, TN, February 7, 1863.  Cause of death not reported.

The following soldiers died about the same time but does not state place of death:

BAIRD, William J., Sergeant (Company E)
Enlisted in Caldwell County on July 5, 1862.  Promotion record not reported.  Died prior to January 13, 1863.  Place, date, and cause of death not reported.

MILLER, George M., Private (Company I)
Previously served as Private in Company D of this regiment.  Transferred to this company on or about August 5, 1862.  Died on January 8, 1863.  Place and cause of death not reported.

MOODY, Robert, Private (Company E)
Born in Caldwell County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County at age 18, July 5, 1862.  Reported present in January-February 1863.  Died on March 1, 1863.  Place and cause of death not reported.

SEATS, Robert E., Private (Company I)
Resided in Ashe County and was by occupation a day laborer prior to enlisting at age 25, on or about July 24, 1862.  Died on an unspecified date (probably in the summer or autumn of 1862).  Place and cause of death not reported.

SPARKS, John, Private (Company F)
Born in Burke County and was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in McDowell County at age 29, July 14, 1862.  Died prior to April 25, 1863.  Place, date, and cause of death not reported.

WHITE, William, Private (Company F)
Born in McDowell County where he enlisted at age 34, July 14, 1862.  Died on an unspecified date (probably in the summer or fall of 1862).  Place and cause of death not reported.

Note from U.S. Thompson:  Recently discovered intact was : James Thompson (jr), The Spanish American War, Co. M , 4th Unit. This was found when the grave yard was cleared in 2004.

[Note:  Jesse Finley Coffey was a son of McCaleb and Saray Hayes Coffey.  He was born c1842 and died a Big Creek Gap in 1863.]


[1] Undocumented
[2]  My understanding is the ban was lifted in 2000 after a federal judge ruled that the government's attempt to prevent the flying of the flag "clearly demonstrates that [the government is] choosing, and advancing, the viewpoint of those offended by the flag over the viewpoint of those proud of the flag. This preference is not viewpoint neutral and is, therefore, impermissible."  That decision was overturned on appeal and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case thereby upholding the rule that the Confederate flag could only be flown on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day.
[3]http://www.footnote.com/page/1037/confederate_grave_yard_found_in/#entry1930

2 comments:

  1. I've been traveling for work and just had some time off to checkout your post. Glad I could help you with the pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad also! Photos always make for a bit better blog than plain old text.

    ReplyDelete

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