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Pvt James Layfield

Pvt James Layfield

Ritchie County, West Virginia, USA
Death 11 Apr 1865 (aged 32)
Prince Edward County, Virginia, USA
Burial Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, USA
Plot Grave 5286
Memorial ID 76050321 · View Source
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In Memoriam

James Layfield was named for his hardy pioneer great grandfather James Layfield, who journeyed to Virginia (now West Virginia)and settled on the lonely west bank of the Potomac River at Moorefield, where son William Layfield was born in 1775. Wild and unsettled, the beautiful forests were an abundance of sweeping pine trees, towering majestic oak trees, walnuts tees and strong poplar trees as far as the human eye could see.

The History of Ritchie County by Minnie Kendall Lowther, written in 1910, recounts the harrowing true events of William's family being captured by Indians when he was but a young boy. He and his brother were hiding by a huge tree when a tremendous storm came through and swept his brother away. William never saw any on his family again. He grew up and married Margaret Crawford.

William settled on what became known as the S. H. Westfall farm as the first settler on the south fork of the Hughes River above Smithville in the wilderness. He and Margaret lived in the rustic log cabin that William built to harbor his family. William's days were hunting, trapping, fishing, working the farm and caring for his family. He was ever watchful for Indians who traveled though the area.

William and Margaret became the parents of several children. A son John Jackson Layfield Sr., a farmer like his father, married Elizabeth Moats, a sister to Peter Moats, who was originally from Pendleton County, West Virginia. John and Elizabeth Moats Layfield's second born son James Layfield, age 22, was in love with Peter Moats and Rachel Groggs daughter, first cousin, lovely Elizabeth Moats, age 21. With their families permission James and Elizabeth married September 21, 1854, in Ritchie County, West Virginia.

James and Elizabeth had several fulfilling years together as a young couple living their lives, working their farm, adding to their growing family, and planning their future. They became the parents of lively, energetic, wonderful sons whom they adored.

Their children:

1. Charles Layfield: b 1854 Ritchie County, West Virginia - d December 15, 1940 Ritchie County, West Virginia. Layfield Cemetery, Layfield Farm, Ritchie County, West Virginia. Farmer. Did not marry. Charles Layfield's age was was 86 years, 8 months, 8 days when he died. Informant on Death Record: Robert Layfield, Cairo, Ritchie County, WV. State of West Virginia Pioneers Person ID: 167737. Family ID: F18137.

2. Peter Layfield: b 1856 Ritchie County, West Virginia - d November 29, 1943 Pullman County, West Virginia. Single.
1930 U.S. Census Ritchie County, WV - Near Elk Run - Grant Mag. Enumerator: Frank C. Maze. Dwelling #:305; Family #:305
Peter Layfield: Head/Own Property/Male/White/Single/Age at 1st marriage: No/Age:75/Attended School: No/Able to read and write: No/WV/WV/WV/Farmer.

3.Jacob Layfield: b July 25,1858 Ritchie County, West Virginia - d 1940. Layfield Cemetery, Layfield Farm, Ritchie County, West Virginia.

4. Samuel Layfield: b November 18, 1860 Cairo, Ritchie County, West Virginia - d March 16, 1953 Ritchie County, West Virginia. Married Delphia Ann Leonard. They had at least four children. Two children died before the 1910 U.S. Census. Samuel and Dephia Layfield at rest Victory Ridge Cemetery, Ritchie County, West Virginia.

5. Joseph Layfield: b June 20, 1863 Ritchie County, West Virginia - d October 6, 1906. Died from Consumption (Tuberculosis). Layfield Cemetery. Married Martha Ann Simmons. Martha Ann Simmons Layfield Craig: b January 3, 1873 - d June 9, 1965. Floral Hills Memorial Gardens, Harrison County, West Virginia. Martha's parents Thomas Ami Simmons and Lucinda Rose Moneypenny, Layfield Cemetery. Joseph and Martha's daughter Lydia "Liddie" Alice Layfield (1889 - 1945) and husband Isaac Payton (1876 - unknown) Layfield Cemetery, Layfield Farm, Ritchie County, West Virginia.

6. William L. Layfield: b 1865 Ritchie County, West Virginia - d October 8, 1939 West Virginia. Married Dora Skidmore in 1888. Dora Skidmore was born June 1863, a daughter of James Skidmore of Virginia. Children: Aubry Layfield born 1883 and Bessie Layfield born 1889.

The winds of war swept across our nation when shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina April 21, 1861. The Civil War had begun! Able bodied men either enlisted or were conscripted for military service. Brothers John Layfield, Private, and George Layfield, Private, enlisted August 20, 1861, Co D, 6th West Virginia Infantry for 4 years. James Layfield, Private, Company K, 10th Regiment Infantry Regiment West Virginia Volunteers marched off to war August 25, 1862.

Many historians consider the Battle of Opequon, September 19, 1864, also known as the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia, the most important conflict in the Shenandoah Valley because of its size, scope, intensity and serious casualties among Generals and Officers on both sides. The 10th Regiment had many casualties during the battle. The Union had 5020 casualties and the Confederates had 3610 casualties. Pvt. James Layfield was among the wounded. He was furloughed and headed home to be with his family for a time to heal.

The final battle of the Civil War was April 6, 1865 at Sailor's Creek (Saylor's Creek in some records). From the west side of Sailor's Creek the Confederates charged and broke through the Union infantry, but were stopped by the batteries along the hillside. A mass surrender followed of several Confederate Generals and Colonels and about 7000 soldiers. About the same time this was happening another engagement was taking place about two miles north on the main part of Sailor's Creek. There Confederate General John B. Gordon stopped the pursuing Union troops. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was also retreating from Petersburg, with Union General Ulysees Grant following them. General Robert E. Lee lost half his troops in these two engagements. As night time began to fall upon them the hard fought battles came to a close. Seventy-two hours later General Lee surrendered. The war was finally over!

Federal surgeons were working feverishly trying to save the lives of wounded soldiers both Union and Confederates at Mrs. Lucy Hillsman's farm home where she lived with two children and a couple of servants. They commandeered her home for their 6th Corps field hospital. Mrs. Hillsman's husband James Hillsman, a former Confederate Captain, 44th Virginia Infantry, was captured and still a prisoner of war.
All during the night there were cries of pain and suffering as the surgeons operated, performed amputations, tended to wounds, and tried to comfort the young soldiers. Soldiers lived and soldiers died during the hours and days ahead. Pvt. James Layfield died 5 days later, April 11, 1865.

Before the Federals left they buried their dead soldiers temporarily on Mrs. Hillsman's farm across the fields. A journal was filled with clearly legible, neatly scripted dead soldier's names, ranks, companies, with the current burial location listed, to be used for future reference when a national cemetery was chosen and prepared for burials. The Confederate dead were left unburied to rot. Later Mrs. Hillsman's former slaves buried them on her farm in large unmarked graves.

Petersburg was chosen as the site for a national military cemetery to honor the dead Union soldiers. From 1866 to 1868 burial corps removed the bodies from Mrs. Hillsman's farm and the area. Pvt. James Layfield, whose name was in the ledger, buried on Mrs. Hillsman's farm, was reinterred in Poplar Grove National Cemetery with his name and rank shown on a marker. Only about 2700 soldiers names were known of over 7000 that were buried.

The year 1865 brought a new infant into the family, William Layfield. Elizabeth was a strong, determined woman who somehow reared their children by herself. The sons helped her do the hard backbreaking work that is necessary to survive on a farm. She did not remarry. Elizabeth and some of their children rest in Layfield Cemetery.

Family Members


Please note the surname spelling is incorrect. It should be Layfield.

  • Maintained by: skyquest
  • Originally Created by: Charles Eugene Logston
  • Added: 5 Sep 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 76050321
  • skyquest
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Pvt James Layfield (15 Jul 1832–11 Apr 1865), Find A Grave Memorial no. 76050321, citing Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by skyquest (contributor 46907373) .