By Danny Crownover
The Vagabond recently received an e-mail from Sonny Stowers, a former resident of this area. He wrote:
“Hello! I thought I’d send you a picture that was created for me, dealing with some of my Civil War relatives. I think it’s kind of interesting. I thought you might like a story about the people.
“As a transplanted Gadsden native to Richmond, Va., I was looking for relatives on Ancestry.com.
“While in Gadsden for a high school reunion, I found myself at the Gadsden Public Library, where I met a fellow doing some research. I have some relatives on my mother’s side of the family who are named Garner. I never knew them.
“The fellow mentioned that there was a small cemetery called Garner Cemetery in Gadsden and gave me directions on how to get there. In that cemetery, I found five interesting graves. One of them was Sgt. Joseph Garner.
“Garner was a Revolutionary soldier from Virginia in the 15th Virginia Re-giment who fought under Lt. John Marshall in George Washington’s army. Garner survived the Battle of Monmouth and Valley Forge and was wounded in the arm at Brandywine. He found himself all over the South during the war, including Alabama, and survived and returned to Virginia.
“When the tobacco crops started to fail in Virginia, Garner took his family to Georgia and later to Gadsden (which at the time was Cherokee land), where he settled with his family. Gar-ner lived to the ripe old age of 87. He was the first known burial in the family burial ground known as Garner Cemetery, a Virginia transplant to my Gadsden home town.
“One of his sons, Joseph Henry Garner, lived next door to his father. Joseph acquired more land and eventually had four sons – Francis Garner, Joseph W. Garner, John C. Garner and James H. Garner. All four sons volunteered and served the Confederacy. Tragically, three sons didn’t survive the Civil War. Only James Garner returned from the war and later was buried beside his brothers in 1878. They are all buried in the Garner Cemetery.
“Francis Garner and John C. Garner both enlisted in Company I, 10th Alabama Infantry Regiment in 1861 when it was formed in Montgomery. Francis was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital No. 3 in Richmond with a diagnosis of typhoid fever on November 22, 1861 and was released from the hospital on March 3, 1862. He appeared on a report of casualties of the 4th Brigade, Longstreet’s Division, in the action at Cold Harbor and Gaines Mill and was seen at Chimborazo Hospital for treatment of “bomb in leg.” Francis was taken prisoner in Williamsport, Pa., on July 6, 1863, as result of fighting at Gettysburg, Pa., and kept at Fort McHenry, Md., and then sent to Fort Delaware on July 9, 1863.
“On Nov. 15, 1864 at Venus Point on the Savannah River, Francis was exchanged with 3,023 other paroled Confederate prisoners. He died of disease in October of 1864 in Savannah, Ga. His brother, John C. Garner, was cap-tured by the Army of the Potomac in Williamsburg, Va., in May of 1862. John Garner had been shot when initially captured, so he was sent to a Union hospital in Williamsburg on May 9, 10, and 11 and then transported on May 12 to Fort Monroe, Va., to Chesapeake General Hospital.
“John Garner was transferred on July 15, 1862, to Fort Delaware. He was placed with other prisoners on the steamer Catskill on Aug. 5, 1862, and part of a prisoner exchange at Aiken’s Landing, Va., later that day. On April 13, 1863, John
Garner was admitted to Confederate Hospital No. 1 in Lynchburg, Va., with Scorbutic, or scurvy. He died at Deep Bottom, Va., in July of 1864. Deep Bottom was one of the battles that were part of the Richmond-Petersburg campaign.
“So, two of my known re-latives from Gadsden ended up dying as a result of the Civil War in my now home state of Virginia.
“Joseph W. Garner and his brother, James H. Garner, both enlisted in 1861 with the 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment, Company D, formed in Huntsville. Joseph quickly was promoted to 3rd Sergeant, but unfortunately became ill. While on sick leave in Gadsden, he passed away and was buried in the Garner Cemetery. His brother James served throughout the war. The 19th Alabama was present at Corinth. Miss., and later fought at Shiloh. The regiment was active in the Kentucky campaign and became connected to the Army of the Tennessee. The 19th participated in many conflicts, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Atlanta, Chickamauga, Ga., and Bentonville, N.C. Only 76 men were present when the 19th surrendered in April of 1865 in Salisbury, N.C.
“Even the brothers’ father, Joseph Henry Garner, got into the conflict. He enlisted in the 4thAlabama, Lewis Alabama Calvary Squadron, Company K, in the rank of corporal. Joseph Henry’s unit surrendered April 15, 1865 in Huntsville. He served in central Alabama and Georgia during the summer and fall of 1864 and until the close of the war.
“During my research, I ran into a fellow who lives in Mechanicsville, Va., on Boatswain Creek. There are many trenches around my friend’s house, which he says are the trenches used by the 10th Alabama Infantry. It’s very likely that in my wandering around his property I stepped in the same grounds that Francis and John Garner tread upon. Amazing!”