Civil War

--------------- Forwarded Message ---------------

To: Robert & Mary Tyree, 71151,2020
Date: Thu, Jul 18, 1996, 0:41

RE: Civil War

Many of you know our Civil War story. William Fenton Tyree "Pop" brought it to us after he revisited Ansted and grilled old Uncle Joe for genealogical information. Uncle Joe died in 1920 -- which dates our family's possession of the story. But Uncle Joe was there in person when the action took place; so this is probably the best version we will ever have.

It has been said that the Civil War pitted "brother against brother". Nowhere was that more true than in the West Virginia area. Actually still a part of Virginia when the War broke out, its citizens were expected to follow Virginia into the Confederacy. But the hill country had no plantations and little use for slave labor. It was slave country in name only. The struggle of Virginia supporters to win the rest of the citizenry to their cause percipitated the first land battle of the War: Phillippa, June 3, 1861. Neighbors argued their convictions in the streets and chose up sides to shoot each other in the fields. Life became a traumatic nightmare. Lewisburg saw its supreme court and the court's Civil Library moved to Richmond. The Academy at Lewisburg (the only source of upper schooling) closed its doors. Many Churches were closed. There were no elections; officials who went to fight were not replaced. Travel on the Turnpike came to a standstill. Civilians accepted the rule of whatever army forcibly held their town, or they moved to stay behind the lines of their chosen side. And the end of the fighting didn't end the difficulties. Although Virginia recognized the incompatibility of its two sections and gave West Virginia independent statehood June 20, 1863, the man in the street paid no attention. Feuding was constant between retired Confederates and Unionists. People were not allowed to get on with their work. Taxes were not even collected for the year 1864. An amendment to the West Virginia Constitution was necessary in 1871 to legalize equality and restore order.

The Tyrees were Confederates. William Tyree had served Virginia as Deputy Sheriff of Greenbrier County and then Sheriff of Fayette County; he had represented his County in the Virginia Legislature; and for several years was Colonel of the 142nd Regiment of the Virginia Militia, the home guard whose leader's title of Colonel was the origin of most "Southern Colonels". When the alarm of War sounded, he prepared for his State's clash of arms by raising a company of Confederate Volunteers in Fayette County. This was done at a street meeting in Charleston in the Summer of 1861. Such meetings usually were the out-growth of speech making; and often the instigator of a group became its new Captain. This group, with William Tyree as its Captain, became Company "C" of the 22nd Regiment of the Virginia Infantry. William's sons, Joseph and Woodson Andrew, were two of his recruits; Woodson Andrew became the group's 2nd Lt. William's brother, Frank Tyree, also served the Confederate Cause as a Major on Gen. Eckol's staff; during the War, Frank's family had to leave the old Stone House. William and his family also moved behind the Confederate Lines; their Half Way House home was taken over by Union forces; sometimes as headquarters for officers; but during one entire winter, it was occupied by the Chicago Dragoons -- the marks of this occupancy are still visible on the doors, walls, etc.

The "Old 22nd" helped to win the Battle of White Sulphur Springs. It suffered much loss at the Battle of Lewisburg (May 23, 1862) with many dead, dying and prisoners left behind. Typhoid fever forced William Tyree to relinquish his command in 1862; and Dr. Henry Dickenson succeeded him as Captain; but when William left his two sons, Joseph and Woodson Andrew, stayed with the company; Woodson Andrew then became 1st Lt.

It was at the Battle of Droop Mountain, Nov. 6, 1863, that Woodson Andrew was shot while fighting on horseback. The story goes -- the Confederates had already conceded their defeat and were rounding their forces to flee. Woodson Andrew started to fall foreward in his saddle; and Major Bailey called, "Catch poor Woodson -- he is shot!" Someone managed to straighten him up; and his horse stayed with the troop, carrying him to Frankford. His brother, Joseph, took him to a Mr. Scott's where he knew they could received some attention. Once arrived, Woodson's hands were so clinched in the mane of his horse that they could not be released; and the mane had to be cut off to get him from the saddle. A doctor was found; and the fleeing soldiers lingered for almost 2 hours while Woodson's wounds were dressed. The bullet had entered just below the left nipple and exited below the left shoulder blade.

The group then pushed on to Confederate held territory in Union near Monroe where Woodson Andrew was taken in at a Mr. Alexander's house. He remained in that house, bedridden, for 4 months. He was taken from there to Fincastle and put under the care of a Dr. Williams. Joseph had been able to check on him several times; now his sister, Mary, managed to reach him and became his nurse. Mary told a story of continued infection in Woodson Andrew's shoulder and chest. Although the wound would become very painful at times, it was difficult to find a doctor free who could come on call. One day Mary came into Woodson Andrew's recovery room to find him sitting up in bed with a lance in his hand. He was trying to place it where his medical school books had taught him the relieving cut should go. Mary was able to dissuade him from his self operation. A cough finally broke the abcess.

He was still in Fincastle at the outset of Hunter's Raid. Although he had been recommended for retirement, he then rejoined the fighting. Later, his Civil War record shows him a member of Wharton's Division, and reports him wounded again at the Battle of New Market. He was taken prisoner by the Unionists and released with the signing of the truce papers. The Union record of their released prisoners gives us the best description we have of Woodson Andrew Tyree:


                            Woodson Andrew Tyree
                            Occupation: farmer
                            Age: 27
                            Eyes: blue
                            Hair: light
                            Complexion: dark
                            Height: 6' 2"

This is the end of the Civil War story; but it is hard to just stop. The Mr. Alexander with whom Woodson spent 4 months, may have turned up in his life again. After the War, Woodson Andrew went back to school and took a medical diploma (June 29, 1867). His home area was well doctored by his old comrade in arms, Dr. Henry Dickenson; so the new graduate found a practice in Wapella, Illinois (with a Dr. Baldwin?). He met and married Mary Juanna Houston; 4 children were born to them; and they seemed settled. Then an "old friend", a Mr. Alexander (???), who had made a settlement in Beaumont, Texas, begged Woodson to bring his expertise to that town. Woodson answered his friend's call and stayed in Beaumont until the growth of mining in West Virginia put Dr. Henry Dickenson in need of assistance. He called Woodson Andrew home (1881).

Researcher: Elinor Tyree



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