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Charlton Family Papers, 1853-1958 (Ms1980-001)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1980-001


  • 1853 - 1958


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Charlton Family Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical Note

Davidson W. L. Charlton was born on September 7, 1798. In 1860, he was living and farming in Montgomery County, Virginia, with wife Catherine (46). Also in the home were children Milton (27), Jane (24), Pembroke S. (21), James P. (19), Elvira A. (16), Chester B. (15), Davidson (12), Arminta (10), Mary (8), Kate (5), and H. A. Wise (1 month); as well as a 44-year-old cabinet maker named Oliver H. P. Carden. During the Civil War, Charlton served in Company A of the Montgomery County Home Guard (aka Wade's Regiment, Local Defense Troops). Davidson Charlton died on April 23, 1886.

James Peary Charlton was born on January 20, 1841. On April 27, 1861, he enlisted as a sergeant in Company G of the 4th Virginia Infantry (aka the Montgomery Fencibles). He was elected second lieutenant by his company on July 14, 1862, and was wounded and captured at Cedar Mountain August. Charlton was exchanged on September 21 but did not return to duty until May 20, 1863. On July 3, 1863, he was promoted to first lieutenant; on September 29, he resigned his commission for medical reasons. By 1870, Charlton was living with his wife Susan and two children on a farm near his father's. Two more children had been added to the family by 1880. James P. Charlton died on December 20, 1900.

Milton Charlton was born ca. 1833 and enlisted in Company C, 54th Virginia Infantry at Christiansburg on April 10, 1862. He was killed at Resaca, Georgia during the Atlanta Campaign.

Pembroke Simpkins Charlton was born in 1839. He enlisted in Company G of the 4th Virginia on April 17, 1861. He was discharged from the service on the basis of a surgeon's certificate. In 1867, he married Mahulda Shufflebarger (1837-1903). By 1870, they were living and farming in the Christiansburg area. The couple had at least three children.

Waddy Currin Charlton, son of John R. and Betsey Simpkins Charlton, was born in Montgomery County, Virginia, on September 14, 1839. In 1860, he was farming while living in his father's Montgomery County home. Charlton enlisted in Company G of the 4th Virginia Infantry on April 17, 1861. He was detailed as a teamster on September 16, 1862, and returned to his regiment August 13, 1863. Captured at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 12, 1864, Charlton was imprisoned in Elmira, until being paroled on June 30, 1865. Following the war, Charlton returned to Montgomery County, where he married Mary Lucinda Hess; the couple would have four sons. Waddy C. Charlton died on April 9, 1920.

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The Charlton Family Papers were purchased by Special Collections in 1980.

Physical Characteristics

0.3 cu. ft. 1 box, 1 oversize folder


Civil War-era letters of Davidson W. L. Charlton, of Christiansburg (Montgomery County), Virginia, and his sons Milton (54th Virginia Infantry), James P. and Pembroke (both of the 4th Virginia Infantry); and nephew Waddy C. Charlton (also of the 4th), all written to family friend Oliver H. P. Carden. Also includes other correspondence, legal/financial documents, and ephemera.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains papers of the Charlton family of Christiansburg (Montgomery County), Virginia. The collection consists largely of letters written by Davidson W. L. Charlton and his sons James P., Milton, and Pembroke, as well as Waddy Charlton, the elder Charlton's nephew. All of the correspondence is addressed to Oliver (family friend Oliver Hazard Perry Carden (1814-1878), a veteran of the 4th Virginia Infantry who lived with the Charltons for many years). Most of the letters are accompanied by typed transcripts.

Among the correspondence are three letters from Davidson Charlton, encouraging his sons and Carden in their duty and offering to supply them with provisions they may need while in service. He also relays news from home and mentions a local attempt to incite a slave uprising. In 1862, he writes from the hospital at Staunton, Virginia, where his son, James P., is a patient.

James P. Charlton writes of camp conditions (particularly in winter quarters) and movements of the regiment. He frequently mentions his health and notes his election as a lieutenant, together with his fear of being unable to pass the required examination. He asks for provisions from home, particularly for a planned Christmas dinner in 1862. He also writes of the regiment being under quarantine after a smallpox outbreak.

Writing from camps mostly in southwestern Virginia, Milton Charlton relays news of his regiment's movements and weather and crop conditions. He also discusses an increase of desertion among the regiment. The letters of Waddy C. Charlton, meanwhile, focus largely on personal matters, but he also discusses camp incidents (including a large snowball battle between divisions) and the outcome of the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

The collection also includes a small collection of correspondence of the James P. Charlton family and Charlton family legal/financial documents and ephemera. Materials on Charlton family genealogy and southwestern Virginia local history complete the collection and include a copy of State Historical Markers of Virginia, in which Charlton family information has been recorded.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Charlton Family Papers commenced and was completed in February, 2013.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US