Friday, January 16, 2015

TOP STORY >> Confederate vet sent to Panama

Lonoke County Museum

Bradley Tyler Stokes was born Feb. 5, 1843, in Frederick County, Maryland, to Robert and Harriet Stokes.

On the 1860 federal census, his occupation is listed as being president of a bank and his personal and real-estate property is valued at $40,000.

In 1861, Bradley was attending school to become a surveyor but enlisted at the outbreak of the Civil War. He joined Company G of Gen. Turner Ashby’s 1st Virginia Cavalry of the Confederate Army, which was made up of volunteers from Maryland and saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as Manassas) in Prince William County, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, and in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in March of 1862.

The infantry was at the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862, fighting against fellow Marylanders, the 1st Regiment Maryland Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army. “This is the only time in U.S. military history that two regiments of the same numerical designation and from the same state have engaged each other in battle,” according to Wikipedia.

On May 25, 1862, the Confederacy’s 1st Maryland fought at the 1st Battle of Winchester and at the Battle of Cross Keys on June 8, 1862, where the infantry was under the command of Gen. Richard S. Ewell and successfully fended off three assaults by federal troops.

After the death of Gen. Ashby on June 6, 1862, Stokes was made 1st lieutenant and aid de camp on the staff of Gen. Bradley Tyler Johnson. He served in that position till the close of the war.

Stokes was with Johnson’s company at Seven Days Battles — a series of six major battles over seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Va. — and was part of the Peninsula Campaign. The regiment spent the harsh winter of 1862-63 in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Few of these men were equipped with tents; most slept in the open on the frozen ground. “It was no unusual thing to see several hundred men arise from a covering of a foot of snow that had fallen during the night,” according to Capt. W.W. Goldsborough.

In January 1864, the 1st Maryland Battalion changed its name to the 2nd Maryland Infantry.

Stokes was paroled on May 5, 1865, at Salisbury, N.C., and returned to his home in Frederick, Md.

In 1869-70, he was chosen by the U.S. government as one of the engineers sent to survey the Darien Ship Canal at the Isthmus of Panama.

In December 1872, he married Grace Robertson, who was also from Frederick, Md. They lived in New York for a while, moved to St. Louis, Mo., and then moved to Lonoke around 1877.

In 1878, Stokes was elected surveyor of Lonoke County, a position he held for nearly 25 years. He died in Lonoke on Jan. 8, 1905, leaving behind two children: a son, Charles, and a daughter who he had lovingly called Dixie.

The Lonoke County Museum is at 215 Front St. in Lonoke. Call 501-676-6750 for more information.