A Confederate’s “Little Scratch” at Seven Pines

Guest blogpost: Ron Coddington | Publisher of Military Images Magazine

A CONFEDERATE’S “LITTLE SCRATCH” AT SEVEN PINES.—John W. Anthony, a 19-year-old farmer from Campbell County, Virginia, enlisted with the Southern Guards Company B, 11th Virginia Infantry, on April 23, 1861. During the American Civil War, this Confederate army regiment fought at Manassas on July 21st, and the first members of the regiment fell in battle at Dranesville, Virginia, the following December 20th.

At the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31st, Anthony was wounded—just a “little scratch,” as he described it, perhaps with some careful understatement, to his parents and sister in a letter two days later.

His letter gives the sense of a community amidst the suffering. In it he recounts by name the four men killed in the battle and the status of a wounded soldier from their hometown. He mentions visiting twice Colonel Arnold from a nearby company, presumably a family friend from home, who was “very glad” to see him and promised to write to Anthony’s family as well. And he instructs his family to look out for a few wounded soldiers, urging that if “no one goes after them you had better do it, for they are both brave and good soldiers.”

Anthony himself would be wounded again on September 15th of that year. He obtained a reprieve from the fighting on February 26th, 1863, by furnishing a substitute, Patrick Murry. However, Murry is on the record as deserting the very next day. Whatever happened, Anthony was back at war on or about April 1st, 1865, when he was again wounded, at Five Forks, Virginia.

On April 25, 1865, during the Battle of Petersburg, Anthony received a gunshot to his right thigh and was hospitalized. But he survived to see the end of the war, and many more years. He died on November 8th, 1920, in Campbell County, Virginia, and was laid to rest in his family cemetery at Evington.

SOURCE: Ann Tyler Moses, Liljenquist Family Fellow, 2012.

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