William H. Curry

by Danella Dickson

William H. Curry was born about 1832 in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of William Curry. On June 1, 1856 he married Diana A. Litton at Long Glade, Augusta County, Virginia. They were the parents of two children; Laura Mae born in 1857 and Albert T. born in 1858.

In 1860 William H. Curry was working in Augusta County as a laborer, possibly with his father who was a stone mason. On April 17 1861 Virginia voted to leave the union that caused a flurry of military enlistment in Staunton where William lived. A flyer circulating in the area warned of the invasion of Abolition forces and called for volunteers. (Valley of the Shadow Rosters Discussion –Virginia). William enlisted April 17, 1861 in Company C, 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment under the command of Captain Robert L. Doyle. The men were transported by train to Harpers Ferry where William was mustered into service on May 1, 1861. Soon after that the 5th Virginia Infantry was placed under the command of Col. Thomas J. Jackson. His command was later to become the famous “Stonewall Brigade” of the Army of Northern Virginia.

During William’s military career the 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment took part in the battles of First Manassas, First Kernstown and Jackson’s Valley Campaign. In May of 1862 the Army was in Staunton as Union forces approached. Major General Thomas J. Jackson marched his army west to confront the enemy and after fierce fighting repulsed them. On September 17, 1862 the Army of Virginia met the Army of the Potomac on the banks of Antietam Creek near the small town of Sharpsburg. The North called it the Battle of Antietam and the South the Battle of Sharpsburg, but they could agree on one thing, it was the single bloodiest day of fighting of the War Between the States. The battle lasted three days (September 16-18) with estimated casualties of 23,100. William was wounded September 17th and probably treated in a field hospital prior to being transferred to a hospital in nearby Winchester. He died there October 10, 1862 and may be buried in an unmarked grave in Stonewall Confederate Cemetery. The cemetery is the final resting place for 2, 574 Confederate soldiers, it was dedicated in 1866. In 1879 the Ladies Confederate Memorial Association erected a monument to honor the unknown soldiers buried in Stonewall Confederate Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia.

October 21, 1862 the Staunton Spectator Newspaper published a list of local men serving in Company C, 5th Virginia Infantry who had been killed or died from disease since the beginning of the war. William Curry was on the list of men killed but no other details were given. Military records list William’s promotion to Corporal on September 8th, 1862. In May, 1863 his final pay covering the period April 30 to October 10, 1862 was paid to his widow, Diana A. Curry, it amounted to $69.76.
Diana continued to live in Augusta County and raised her children there. During the difficult years following the war she made her home with her parents, Samuel and Sarah Litton, and later with her married daughter and son-in-law, Robert and Laura Van Lear.

In 1888 the Virginia Assembly passed a Confederate pension act providing pensions to Confederate soldiers disabled in action and to the widows of those killed in action. Diana A. Curry filed an application in March of 1888, the pension awarded her was $30.00 a year. Since she never remarried it can be assumed she drew this pension until her death April 5, 1918. Diana is buried in Pleasant View Lutheran Church Cemetery, Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia.

Note: William’s older brother Samuel S. Curry (b. ca. 1827 Augusta Co., VA) married Eliza A. Rankin in 1853, Augusta County, Virginia. Following the birth of two sons Samuel left Virginia and went to Iowa, possibly planning to send for his young family later. In 1860 Samuel Curry was living in English River, Washington County, Iowa, he enlisted August 24, 1861 in the 10th Iowa Regiment Infantry, Federal Army. Samuel was wounded severely in the side January 8, 1862 near Charleston, Missouri. He died February 6, 1862 at Bird’s Point, Missouri and his body was returned to Washington County for burial in Richmond Cemetery where his graveside service was attended by hundreds of locals due to his dubious distinction of being the first local man to die in service. The Curry’s provide a sad example of brothers serving on opposite sides during this terrible conflict.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts