A Confederate Soldier

By Sam Cook
A Ragland descendant

My name is Sam Cook. Based on the research and writings of my cousin, Charles J. Ragland, Jr., He wrote The RaglandsThe History of a British-American Family, Volumes One & Two. The following piece comes from information found in Volume 1. The books were published in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1978 and are currently out of print.

James Madison “Matt” Ragland

James Madison “Matt” Ragland, eldest child of William G. Ragland and Mary Frances Kinton Ragland, was born in Granville County, North Carolina, on September 30, 1844 (pg. 274). Although Matt grew up on his parents’ farm near Oxford, he was too young to be among the first flood of Confederate volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Nevertheless, he enlisted on March 27, 1862, although still only seventeen years old. As a result, James Madison and his sixteen-year-old brother, John, were mustered into Company E.

James Madison “Matt” Ragland
Confederate Soldier

The Tar River Rebels

Captain Robert L. Heflin’s “Tar River Rebels” of the 46th North Carolina Infantry at Camp Mangum near Raleigh on April 16, 1862. After spending several weeks at Camp Mangum, where they “received instruction in the art of war,” the Forty-sixth was transferred to Goldsboro, North Carolina (pg. 275). 

They were admitted to the hospital when James Madison and John got sick in late May. Unfortunately, John died on May 27, 1862. However, James Madison, still very ill, remained at the hospital until June. Released from the hospital on July 1, recovered but weak, James Madison was sent home on “sick furlough.” He recuperated at home for almost eight months. Finally, on March 30, 1863, he rejoined his unit. (See photo.)

The Battle of Bristoe Station

After a short stay at Wilmington during the spring of 1863, the Forty-sixth Company E traveled north to Richmond, where they arrived in early June. During the following fall, James Madison and his unit participated in the operations along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. In addition, they took part in the Battle of Bristoe Station. 

The Battle of the Wilderness

On May 5, 1864, James Madison sustained wounds at the Battle of the Wilderness. After recovering from his injury, he returned to his company about two months later, July 1. On August 25, 1864, the Forty-sixth and James Madison participated in the Second Battle of Reams Station. After Reams Station, the regiment returned to the lines around Petersburg. They occupied different positions until December, when they wintered on Hatcher’s Run, near Burgess’ Tavern, about ten miles from Petersburg. (North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster)

Ragland survives the hunger, cold, and other hazards experienced during the 1864-65 Petersburg siege. In 1865, James Madison took part in the battle at White Oak Road and near Burgess’ Tavern (https://www.battlefields.org/learn/maps/white-oak-road-march-31-1865). 

Prisoner of War

The official War Department records indicate that James Madison was taken prisoner at Hatcher’s Run, Virginia, on March 31, 1865, and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, on April 3, 1865. Although General Lee surrendered at Appomattox several days later, James Madison was not released from prison until he took the Oath of Allegiance on June 17, 1865. Afterward, James Madison, probably tired, hungry, and dirty, walked home to Granville County.

The War Ends

James Madison arrived home in early July to find that both of his parents had died. All of his brothers and sisters, who then ranged in age from seventeen to two years old, had been scattered around the community to live with friends and relatives (pg. 278). James Madison’s father, William G. Ragland, had enlisted in the Confederate Army on April 4, 1863, at Grace Church, North Carolina. According to his compiled military record, he “mustered as a substitute into Company G, N.C. 30th Infantry” (North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster). On January 10, 1864, William died of disease at Orange County Courthouse, Virginia. According to her headstone at Ragland Family Cemetery in Oxford, N.C., James Madison’s mother, Mary F. Kinton Ragland, died a few months later, on April 30, 1864. 

The Aftermath of the Civil War

James Madison gathered his siblings together at the Ragland homeplace and began the job of rebuilding their lives. The farm was in ruin, and money was almost non-existent. In his writings, Charles J. Ragland, Jr. indicated that, first, James Madison bought a broken-down mule. The horse was most likely an old cavalry mount branded “CS”) and a wagon. He then went into business buying tobacco around the country where the price was low. He then hauled it down to eastern North and South Carolina. He sold or traded it for vegetables, oysters, fish, sugar, and other goods, which he hauled back to Granville County and sold. These trips to the East kept him away from home for extended periods. He made arrangements for his siblings’ well-being before each trip. He left the older children in charge. He soon found out, however, that this system was not working. The older children did not do well during James Madison’s absence. Their neighbors, also suffering after the war, often took advantage of them by “borrowing” much of the food James left. Nevertheless, Ragland continued this hand-to-mouth operation for about three years.

Survival Post War

By 1868, some children were old enough to begin caring for themselves. James Madison took the older boys—perhaps Stephen, William, and Robert—showed them the plow, outbuildings, and fields. Then, he told them it was time to care for themselves. Meanwhile, some of the younger children lived with relatives in the community. 

Census records indicate that James Madison’s younger brothers and sisters continued to care for one another after Matt left the farm. According to the Granville County, N.C. 1870 Census, James Madison’s brother, Stephen, made a home for three of his younger siblings—Emily “Emma,” Mary Jane, and Willie (sometimes spelled Wiley”). 

In 1870, Angelina “Nannie” Ragland lived with the Vaughn family nearby. At this time, young Joseph R. Ragland—only about nine years old—decided to leave home and make his way. However, he did eventually get an education and did well for himself. Unfortunately, Benjamin and Elizabeth died young: Benjamin died in the 1860s, and Elizabeth died around 1872.

Census records indicate that the youngest child, Carolina “Lina” Ragland, lived with her older sister, Nannie Ragland Blalock, in 1880 in Orange County, North Carolina. Lina was sixteen years old at that time. Also, in 1880, Mary Jane Ragland Bullock and her younger brother, William, resided together in Oxford, North Carolina. And at the same time, Robert Ragland and his brother, Wiley (also spelled “Willie”) Lewis Ragland, lived together in Forsyth County.

Matt Leaves the Family Farm

After he left the family farm, James Madison decided that he would go to Texas. However, during his travels, he had heard that a railroad was being built between Greensboro and Salem, North Carolina, providing work. Ragland left Granville County with “only the shirt on his back” and went to work on the construction of the railroad. He hoped to save up money for Texas. Matt traveled to Forsyth County, North Carolina, in the spring of 1868. He sought employment from Henry Edwards, who lived east of Kernersville on a large farm and had contracted with the railroad to build a section of the line. James Madison worked for about a year on the railroad and then on Edwards’ farm. Afterward, he decided to return to farming, using the money he had saved to purchase a farm about a mile east of Kernersville.

Post Script

On November 2, 1870, James Madison married Louisa Jane Peeples, a daughter of the Rev. Hubbard W. Peeples and Louisa Nelson Peeples of Oak Ridge, North Carolina (pg. 280). Louisa Jane was born on September 24, 1854, in Guilford County. The couple raised a family and lived together on their farm near Kernersville. James Madison retired from active farming in the early 1900s. Louisa Jane died at home on July 5, 1908. Living for more than a dozen years after his wife, James Madison, died on March 9, 1922, in Forsyth County. Their graves are at Mount Gur Cemetery, Kernersville, Forsyth County, North Carolina.

Editor’s Note

If you enjoyed reading this story about a member of the Ragland family, I hope you’ll share your account from your family tree. I’d love to hear about it and share it with others involved in preserving family history.

Thank you, Chip, for reaching out to me through the Write Stuff blog. 

Where Our Trees Intersect

Here’s how Chip’s story fits into my Ragland Family Tree (courtesy of Ancestry.com.)

Interesting, eh?
Debora Buerk
Writer, Editor. and
sometimes family historian

You’re reading Ragland Family History on
Debora Buerk The Write Stuff blog.

Looking at life from a different POV.