Monday, August 27, 2012

My 2nd Great Grandfather, Private Christopher Columbus Wheeler and his brother-in-law Private Samuel Clark

Christopher Columbus Wheeler

Christopher Columbus Wheeler was born in Granville County, North Carolina on January 30, 1842.  He is my 2nd Great Grandfather.  C. C. volunteered for the Partisan Rangers in the Confederate Army in Granville County on July 15, 1862.  He. was 20 years old at the time of his enlistment.   C. C. answered the following recruitment advertisement that was circulated in the local newspaper.

                                                      Squadron "Partisan Rangers."

Having been authorized by the Secretary of War and Maj. Gen. Holmes to raise two companies of “Rangers” to act together under the command of the senior Captain, an opportunity is thus offered to those “not afraid of getting hurt” to enter this popular branch of the service.  The Ranger service is authorized by act of Congress, and thus occupies the same legal ground with any portion of the army, with this difference, however, that the Partisan Act was passed subsequent to the Conscription Act, and in all cases where the two conflict the Ranger prevails.  The Ranger furnishes his own horse, other equipments furnished by the Government.  Forty cents a day paid for use of the horse, and his value if killed in battle.  If they furnish themselves with a shot-gun, $1.00 per month for the use of the same.  Arms and munitions of war taken from the enemy belong to the company.  As there is urgent present need of these companies in Eastern Carolina, and “picked” men are desired, the Colonels of the different militia regiments are requested to bring the matter immediately to the attention of their commands.  Any person liable to conscript duty can join this service, receiving the same bounty, pay and rations as in the regular army.  Persons desiring to enlist in this branch of the service, can communicate with Senior Capt. P. G. Evans, Greensborough, N. C.; Capt. J. M. Gallaway, Wentworth, Rockingham, N. C.; Lieut. George J. Moore, Goldsboro, N. C., John L. Morehead, Esq., Charlotte, N. C.; Hon. W. W. Avery, Morganton, N. C., Lieut. I. W. Hughes, Goldsboro, N. C

C. C. served in Company I of the North Carolina 63rd Regiment, 5th N.C. Calvary. 

1st Muster Roll for C. C.

He took part in a number of Battles and Skirmishes, from the first Battle at White Hall, near Goldsboro to Thompson's Bridge on the Neuse River in Eastern North Carolina.  C. C. was reported absent "with no serviceable horse" for the months of May and June in 1863.

Muster Roll showing C. C. was absent without a horse

During the Battle at Upperville, Virginia C. C. had his horse killed from under him. Major John M. Galloway, Historian of the 63rd said, " C. C. Wheeler, Private of Co. I, had 3 horses shot from under him ... In the charge at Upperville, his horse was killed and fell on his leg and held him fast and he was about to be run over by the charging Federals when two of our men dismounted and turned the horse off of him and saved him from capture."

This Muster Roll shows where one of C.C's horses had been killed on 7/12/1863

About 3 weeks later, on 12 July 1863, he had another horse killed under him as the 63rd covered the retreat of Lee's Army from Gettysburg.  He was at the Battle of Buckland Mill where the Federals were routed so badly General Stuart referred to it as "The Buckland Races".

C. C. rode under Cavalry Corps Commander Major General J.E.B Stuart until Stuart's untimely death at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 12, 1864. 

J.E.B. Stuart

A letter from C. C. to his sister and brother-in-law dated May 15, 1864 references Stuart's passing.

Com I. 5 NC Calvary
7 miles below Richmond
Tuesday May the 15th/64
Dear Brother & Sister. It is great pleasure to me when I can have the oppotunity of writing to you all. These lines leave me well & hope they will find you all enjoying the same. I, Saml, I have had a hard time Since I saw you last. we have been marching & fighting every day since we left Louisburg with the exception of 4 or 5 days. we fought the yankees from the Rapidan with in 3 miles of Richmond. it was cavalry. I don't know the number but I think about 8000 & 30 cannon. we never had more than half that number of men & no cannon atal until we got to Richmond. There we got 4 cannon & some reinforce®)96ments®):6 so circuard [scared] they had to leave. if our force had been a little stronger we could of captured them every one. They only had just one way to get out. lost from our Regt. only 3 wounded. one I suspect is dead. he was shot senter through the boddy. it looks like the yankees is cutting talligraph lines to Richmond. I under stand the yankees have cut all the railroads running from Richmond & understand old Lee gave them a bad floging at Spotsylvania CH [Courthouse] on Friday last. They are fighting at Drunia bluf yesterday. I could heare the firing plane all day. I think they are making the Strongest effort to get to Richmond that ever have made but I tell you they will leave a great meany of their men behind in the road stroad [strewed] with thir dead now as far as they have come. They say they are going on to Rich[mond] but I think they will have a hard road to travel. but the great fear is that they will cut off our supplies. I think if they make a big offen- sive if anything ain't needed it is rain & if they ever do entend to do any good let them come now with 3 days rations & thir guns, on thir horses to Stop thet Rading party that is Cut[t]ing of[f] Gen Lees Suplices. The Sitty [city] battalian met them & was so much Ceard [scared] to infileth [?] they kild as meny of our men as they did the yankees & then run. Gen [James B.] Gordon was leding them when he was wounded. his arm has been amputated. The brave Gen. Stuart was kild near the Sitty when leading a charg. He lived about a day and a night after being wounded. we stopt heare to rest a day or too. both men and horses are broke down.
Your Brother,

C. C. Wheeler

He was "present and accounted for" through August of 1864. On October 27, 1864, in a Skirmish at the Wilson House near Reams Station, south of Petersburg, Virginia, he was wounded in the right leg [I was told that his horse was shot and fell on his leg.] causing amputation.

Muster Roll from General Hospital, Camp Winder, Richmond VA.  Where C.C. recovered from his leg amputation.

C. C. reported to the hospital at Richmond, Virginia in December of 1864 and transferred to Durham, North Carolina by furlough on January 26, 1865. 

Report showing C. C.'s furlough

He was admitted to the hospital at Danville, Virginia on April 7, 1865, and was furloughed for 60 days on  April 8, 1865.

Report showing admission to the Danville Hospital

Following the War, C. C. returned home to Granville County, North Carolina.   He married Mildred Walker on March 26, 1873.  They settled on a farm, part of which was given him by his father.   He bought shares of some of his other brothers and sisters land.

Mildred Walker and C.C. Wheeler

On June 15, 1885, C. C. Wheeler, age 43 and a resident of Dutchville, North Carolina, filed for a Pension based on his war service. The application stated that "while in battle, charging the lines of the enemy, the said Christopher Columbus Wheeler, received a wound in the right leg below the knee which caused the amputation of said leg just below the knee ..." and because of this he was incapable of manual labor. N.B. Cannady, an attorney at Oxford, wrote a letter to the Pension Board in Raleigh stating that he was "well acquainted with C.C. Wheeler & know that he was a true & valued soldier ... that he is a good citizen & well worthy of the small 'mite' which the State has offered to her sons of the 'Lost Cause'" (there was no indication as to how much of a pension he received).

The Pension Act was amended in 1889 and on June 9, 1902, another application was filed, this one stated that "Mr. Wheeler's right leg is off immediately below the knee & is in an unhealed state now & he says very painful, he having to go on crutches prevents him from performing manual labor."   The 1886 Business Directory for Granville County lists C. C. as a cobbler or shoemaker. 

In 1904, he entered Rex Hospital in Raleigh where they again amputated as near to the hip as possible.  After that the pain seemed to be gone.  On  May 31, 1905, he applied for an increase in his pension.

C. C. Wheeler circa early 1900's

Christopher Columbus Wheeler died on May 3, 1912, as I was told, sitting in a chair on his front porch.  He survived 47 years following the end of the Civil War.  He is buried in the C.C. Wheeler family cemetery which is located on the old Wheeler Homeplace on County Road 1110 between Creedmoor and Butner, North Carolina

Here's my relation to C.C.

Christopher Columbus Wheeler (1842 - 1912)
is your 2nd great grandfather
Benjamin Elliott Wheeler (1883 - 1951)
Son of Christopher Columbus
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
Daughter of Benjamin Elliott
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Phebe Teresa
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

The brother-in-law that C. C. wrote to was Samuel Clark.   Samuel Clark was also a Veteran of the Civil War having served in Company E, North Carolina 23rd Infantry Regiment.  He was married to my 2nd Great Grand Aunt, Louisa Jane Wheeler. 

Samuel Clark and Louisa Jane Wheeler

Samuel Clark was born in the Dutchville District of Granville County, North Carolina on September 11, 1832.  The Clark's and Wheeler's must have been close neighbors.  The final resting place for Christopher Columbus Wheeler is less than a half mile from the small cemetery where Samuel Clark and Louisa Jane Wheeler are buried. 

The Confederacy enacted the first Military Draft with the Conscription Act of April 16, 1862. 

All healthy white men between the ages of 18 and 35 were liable for a three-year term of service in the Confederate Army. All soldiers already in the army for one-year terms now had their length of enlistment extended to three years. In September of 1862, the upper age limit raised to age 45. The age limits expanded to the age range between 17 and 50 in February of 1864.

Samuel was conscripted into the Confederate Army in July of 1862.  He served as a Private under the command of Captain Turner in Company E, North Carolina 23rd Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Granville Plough Boys."   The NC 23rd quickly became part of General Stonewall Jackson's "Foot Cavalry". 

Battle Flag of the North Carolina 23rd Infantry Regiment

Caption of the NC 23rd Flag Exhibit

In 1862, as Major General George McClellan was moving toward Richmond, General Robert E. Lee moved his army north to shift the war from war-torn Virginia.  Although McClellan moved too slowly on September 14th to break through the gaps in South Mountain and cut off the scattered parts of the Confederate army, he did force Lee to decide to give battle sooner than he wanted and with fewer troops than he intended.

Samuel Clark was taken prisoner in the fighting at South Mountain, Maryland. three days before the bloody Battle of Antietam.  Samuel was originally sent to Fort McHenry where he was confined for about a month's time.  On October 17, 1862, Samuel was sent to Fort Monroe, Virginia for Prisoner Exchange.

POW roll showing Samuel's exchange

Following Samuel's exchange, he returned to his regiment.  He was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital # 4 in Richmond, Virginia on October 24, 1862.  He would remain at Chimborazo, being hospitalized with "nostalgia" until November 10th.  Following Samuel's discharge from Chimborazo Hospital # 4, he returned to Granville County to make a full recovery.   He returned to duty with the 23rd sometime before April 30th, 1863, just in time to participate in the Battle that would be referred to as Lee's greatest victory, The Battle of Chancellorsville. 

Battle of Chancellorsville by Kurz and Allison

During the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Confederates were outnumbered 2 to 1 and the fighting lasted five days.  The most intense fighting occurred on May 3rd across a densely wooded area known as the Wilderness of Spotsylvania.  During this fighting Samuel was severely injured. 

Register showing Samuel was severely wounded

Muster Roll showing Samuel's amputation

His injury would lead to the amputation of his left leg above the knee.  The Muster Roll for April 1, 1864 shows that Samuel had been retired to the Invalid Corps.   Samuel received the Confederate Badge of Honor, the equivalent to the Unite States Medal of Honor, for gallantry during his participation in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Badge of Honor for Samuel

According to family history, Louisa Jane was the most courageous woman that you can think of.   After learning of Samuel's injury, she walked all the way to Virgina, to all the battlefields, until she found her husband.  She discovered that he had lost his leg.  After she nursed him back to health and he was able to walk, they walked all the way from Virginia to North Carolina following the railroad tracks.

On 6 July 1885, at the age of 53, and a resident of Dutchville, in Granville County,  North Carolina, Samuel applied for a Pension as the result of his disability. He stated that he had received wounds that had resulted in the amputation of his left leg above the knee. He also stated that he was "unable to wear a wooden or cork leg on account of the condition of the stump and has to go on crutches". He was approved for a pension.  Samuel Clark owned 79 acres of land in the Dutchville area in 1886, presumably adjacent to the Wheeler family farm. 

Samuel Clark's prosthetic leg is currently on display at the North Carolina History Museum.  I was unaware of this exhibit and was nearly moved to tears when I saw it.

Samuel Clark's prosthetic leg

Description of Samuel Clark's exhibit

Samuel Clark lived an additional 28 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died on November 27, 1893.  He and Louisa Jane Wheeler are buried in the Clark Family Cemetery in Granville County, North Carolina.  Unfortunately the Cemetery that they are buried in has been forgotten.  Today the Cemetery is overgrown and nearly inaccessible.   It's located on a small hill in the cul-de-sac of a new neighborhood development.   My father and I are going to try to reclaim this cemetery by cutting back the overgrowth.

Samuel Clark's Grave

Here's my relation to Samuel:

Samuel Clark (1832 - 1893)
relationship to you: husband of 2nd great grand aunt
Louisa Jane Wheeler (1836 - 1898)
Wife of Samuel
Benjamin Franklin Wheeler (1803 - 1883)
Father of Louisa Jane
Christopher Columbus Wheeler (1842 - 1912)
Son of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Elliott Wheeler (1883 - 1951)
Son of Christopher Columbus
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
Daughter of Benjamin Elliott
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Phebe Teresa
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce


  1. Hi Chip. My name is Josh Mangum. CC Wheeler is my great great great grandfather. Do you have any idea who owns the cemetery since Leland passed? I really like this page, what a great tribute. I'd like to talk if you could send me an email, mine is

  2. Great Article, I'm also a descendant of C.C Wheeler . He is my great great great grandfather. This is such an awesome story. I remember doing a research paper on him in high school. Good article on Samuel Clark also. C.C had two brothers who also that fought in the civil war, not sure if you are familiar with that. One being Benjamin Franklin Wheeler who enlisted in the Army at the. Age of 21. He served as a Private in Co. E ,23rd Reg of the 5th NC Infantry ,known as the Granville Targeteers. The second one being Andrew Jackson Wheeler, all that is listed is he died on a battlefield in the Civil War. I am curios and would and have been trying to find more out about these me