John Wesley Armsworthy
Sergeant, Confederate States of America Army
Courtesy of "The North Carolina Museum of History.": October 2006
"John Wesley Armsworthy was thirty-one years old when the war broke out in 1861. He and his wife, Edna, aged twenty-six, had three children under five years old-Branch, Ella, and Matthew. Armsworthy owned a 270-acre farm in Yadkin County, where he and his young family lived. He raised all the food the family needed, including wheat, corn, oats, and potatoes. He had two cows to provide milk and butter, and fifteen hogs for meat. Armsworthy had one mule to help him work the fields but did not raise any cash crops, such as tobacco or cotton, nor did he own any slaves. He and his family were Methodists. Armsworthy was a Democrat, although, like most North Carolinians, he probably did not favor secession before the war. But ultimately he supported the state's decision to leave the Union and join the Confederacy.
"John Wesley Armsworthy enlisted in the Confederate army in April 1862. He joined Company H (Western Rangers), Fifty-fourth Regiment North Carolina Troops as a private. Armsworthy wrote many letters home to his wife, all of them giving some news about the war, offering advice on the management of the farm, and expressing his love and concerns for his wife and children. He fought in several battles, was captured and exchanged in May 1863, and received a promotion to sergeant later that summer. On November 15, 1863, Armsworthy was wounded in the right arm and captured in battle at Rappahannock Station, Virginia. At a hospital in Washington City, he wrote to his family on December 8, told them of his unfortunate circumstance, expressed hope that he would soon recover, and sent his love to his wife and children. It was his last letter home.
"Sergeant John Wesley Armsworthy died of his
battle wounds as a Union prisoner on January 15, 1864. He is buried in
present-day Arlington National Cemetery in a numbered but unmarked grave.
Armsworthy's death left his wife, Edna, and three small children destitute
in Yadkin County. Then the youngest child, three-year-old Matthew, died.
Edna moved with her two surviving children to her uncle's family home in
Davie County, where she remained after the war. She never remarried. In
1909, at the age of seventy-two, Edna Armsworthy applied for a pension
based on her late husband's Confederate service, stating in part: "[T]hink
what I have lost in doing with out my Husband all theas years. Now I am
old [and] need some thing more than I have got, to be cared for like he
would have done." She died on March 3, 1910.