Lieut James Wyatt Whitehead

Lieut James Wyatt Whitehead

Pittsylvania County, Virginia, USA
Death 1919 (aged 80–81)
Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, USA
Burial Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 23730988 · View Source
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Civil War Confederate Officer. Served as gallant Lieutenant with the 53rd Virginia Infantry.

The following was provided by contributor James Whitehead (48159843) :

“Wyatt” as he was known to his friends, was the son of Richard Whitehead, Jr. and Eliza Carolyn Brown. He was born on May 24th, 1838 and died January 11th, 1919. He married Nancy Eugenia Tredway, daughter of William Marshall Tredway, who was a member of Congress, signer of the Virginia Ordinance of Secession, and a judge of the circuit court. Nannie and Wyatt produced ten children. Nannie died in 1886 and Wyatt never remarried living with the family of his daughter Mary Emma Jones.

Whitehead was born on the plantation of Richard Whitehead near Chalk Level, Virginia. As a young country boy he moved to Chatham to become a clerk in Mr. Jesse Hargrave (founder of Hargrave Military Academy) general store across from the courthouse earning 25 cents a week.

When the War Between the States began Whitehead enlisted as a private in Company I, Chatham Grays, 53rd Virginia Infantry. The regiment was brigaded with General Lewis Armistead’s gallant command. Whitehead participated in the battles of Big Bethel, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Goulding’s Farm, and Malvern Hill. At Malvern Hill Whitehead was wounded in the knee and his unit the 53rd Virginia advanced the farthest against the Federal position near the Crew House. Wyatt continued to see action in the battles of 2nd Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg.

During the Battle of Gettysburg Lt. Whitehead led the color guard of the 53rd Virginia Infantry during the immortal Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd. Wyatt successfully penetrated the “Angle” with General Armistead, Colonel Rawley White Martin, Robert Tyler Jones, Hutchings Carter, Tom Tredway, George White, and many others.

His account of the Battle of Gettysburg, the charge at Cemetery Ridge, and the death of many of his friends, was quite graphic and given in detail. Here he was wounded, having received bullet wounds in his leg, one in the arm and one in the shoulder. It was raining hard that night and he lay on the ground in a puddle of water. How the next morning a squad of Union cavalry passed and the officer in charge stopped and asked if there was anything they could do for him. To which grandfather said, “Could you move me out of this water to higher ground.” To which the Union officer commanded two of his squad to “dismount and move the lieutenant to a spot under yonder tree and move him gently.” He was very thankful and the officer in charge was profusely thanked. In a 1909 letter Whitehead remarked: “As I write the awful groans of the wounded and the dying and their pleading for water and help comes crowding into my mind. I do pray to the good Lord that I may never witness such as scene again.”

Whitehead was treated for his wounds and sent to the officer’s prison at Johnson’s Island, Ohio on Lake Erie. Lt. Whitehead was released after Appomattox and he promptly took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and never broke it. He commenced building a prosperous mercantile business, J.W. Whitehead and Sons. The store specialized in fabrics, cloth, women’s accessories, sewing machines, perfumes, shoes, and hats. Today Calland’s Coffee operates in the former store on 11th South Main Street. The tile entrance step still welcomes customers with “Whitehead”.

Wyatt was a long time member of the Pittsylvania Masonic Lodge # 24 and was a Past Master. Whitehead was a man of faith and a 30 year member of Chatham Baptist Church. He contributed to the rebuilding of the current church and the interior. Wyatt also gave generously to help construct the first public schools in Chatham and to the establishment of the Chatham Burial Ground. His letters reveal a passion for weddings and attended many ceremonies in the community.

James Wyatt Whitehead lived a long and useful life. His devotion to God, family, friends, and community still echo 99 years after his passing.

Written by his great-great grandson
James Wyatt Whitehead V "


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  • Created by: Stonewall
  • Added: 3 Jan 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 23730988
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut James Wyatt Whitehead (25 May 1838–1919), Find a Grave Memorial no. 23730988, citing Chatham Burial Park, Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Stonewall (contributor 46536634) .