[Special Collections and Archives welcomes Ruth Monnier, a senior history major at the University of Dayton who is working as a summer volunteer here in the Archives. One of her first projects was to finalize the transcriptions on the Civil War-era letters from MS-92, the Wallace Family Papers. This post is the third of three based on her project. We thank Ruth for all of her hard work with us this summer!]
WM McKinney’s letter dated September 16, 1861, a part of the Wallace Collection, mentions a John A. Washington of Mt. Vernon, Virginia. I had never thought about the descendants of President George Washington fighting in the American Civil War. George Washington did not have any children, which might have caused my lack of thinking about descendants fighting in the war. However, WM McKinney states “We killed the Rebel John A. Washington . . . nearest relative to Gen. Washington.”
According to McKinney, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Rebel army and was killed in September 1861. John A. Washington was the great-grandson of President Washington’s brother. WM McKinney’s Regiment killed him in a skirmish in Virginia, current-day West Virginia. The heading of the letter states Camp Elk Fork, which was located in Randolph County. Randolph County was one of the Virginia counties that split to create West Virginia during the Civil War. More information of the movements of WM McKinney and his Regiment, 15th Regiment Indiana Volunteers, throughout the Civil War is available from the National Park Service.
Timeline of West Virginia and the Civil War
Thane, Elswyth. Mount Vernon is Ours: The Story of Its Preservation. New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1966.