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July 23, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

The Foland Family of Scottsville: Part II

Peter Valentine Foland, gravestone. Photo by Joanne Yeck.


Need to catch up?  Click here: The Foland Family of Scottsville: Part I


In The History of West Virginia, Old and New, Volume 2, author James Morton Callahan included a biography of Clarke Valentine Foland. The entry continues with information about his father, Peter Valentine Foland:

Peter Valentine Foland, father of the Bluefield businessman, was born in Richmond, Virginia. And during the last two years of the Civil War served as a Union soldier. He was once captured, and spent part of part of his time as a prisoner of war. He was a carpenter by trade, and his home for half a century was at Scottsville, where he died in July, 1915, at the age of 70. He was a Democrat, served as a member of the [Town] Council, and also was mayor of Scottsville, was a steward in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and for 30 years was superintendent of the Sunday school.

Sources vary as to whether Peter Valentine Foland was born in Richmond or Scott County, Virginia. Born on January 22, 1845, the Foland family may have already been on their way west to Tennessee.

Likewise, Foland’s military service during the Civil War is up for discussion. Confederate records show that he enlisted in the fall of 1861, joining Company G of the 43rd Tennessee Volunteers. There are records substantiating that he was a prisoner of war and that he was discharged on November 17, 1862. On September 15, 1863, he joined 9th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry, which fought for the Union.

Click here to read my initial interpretation of his service:

Peter V. Foland, Part II

Peter V. Foland, Part III

The National Archives’ database for soldiers contains the following entries for Peter V. Foland:

Peter V. Foland, 9th Regiment Tennessee Cavalry, Union

Peter V. Foland, 43rd Regiment Tennessee Infantry, Confederacy

Peter V. “Folding,” 43rd Regiment Tennessee Infantry, Confederacy (Gillespie’s) (5th East Tennessee Volunteers)

Peter V. Folen, 43rd Regiment Tennessee Infantry, Confederacy (Gillespie’s) (5th East Tennessee Volunteers)

Years later, Peter Foland would apply for a pension based on his service in the 9th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry and his widow would apply for a pension in 1915.

Coming next: The Foland Family of Scottsville: Part III


Leave a Comment
  1. eggrundset / Jul 23 2020 8:13 am

    The reference to Foland having served in the Union Army during the war was likely a fabrication by his son to curry favor among his West Virginia neighbors and as a bit of insurance for himself. After the war, West Virginia, forced all Confederate veterans to leave the state. This happened to one of my own great, great grandfathers who lived in Morgan County, was forced to move into neighboring Berkeley County before it was given to WV by the Federal Government in 1866, and managed to live there until his death in 1893. Mr. Foland likely knew about this law and didn’t want to take any chances!

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 23 2020 8:21 am

      Many thanks for this most helpful interpretation. I had considered a possible “rewrite” of Peter V. Foland’s service, however, did know know about the West Virginia law.


    • Milton Campbell / Jul 25 2020 10:07 am

      I had no idea about this West Virginia law either. Another possibility occurred to me, although the delay in time between Foland’s Confederate service and his Union service has a significant lag for it to be this, but what about the possibility of his being a “Galvanized Yankee”?

      Usually, the way that bit went was Confederate soldier was captured and sent to a prison camp. After a sufficiently-miserable interval of time had passed, the choice was offered: stay in prison -or- join the Union Army. Thus, they became “grey on the inside, blue on the outside” similar to iron or steel changing colors when it is coated with zinc during the galvanizing process.

      I don’t think they started formally raising regiments until January 1864 and those were mostly all sent out west to fight Indians because it was thought too much a punishment to make the confederate soldiers, now in blue, turn their weapons on their own kin and countrymen. That being said, the practice of recruiting Union soldiers from Confederate ranks was common throughout the war, as far as I know they only started making whole regiments of these men in Feb 1864.

      A great uncle of mine went that route and ended up being so reviled in his home town that he had to move 200 miles away and change his name. Although his siblings knew who he was, they never told, and it is believed not even his wife knew the truth. A scrap of paper was found behind the cover of his bible some 40 years after his death with his real name written on it.

      Either the West Virginia law -or- being a galvanized Yankee would likely have required a cover story of some sort. Regardless of whether he served in a formal galvanized Yankee regiment, that’s what he would have likely been called, had the story been known.

      • Joanne Yeck / Jul 25 2020 2:29 pm

        Many, many thanks for continuing to share your thoughts, especially the story about your great uncle.

        As we know, Peter V. Foland was well respected in Scottsville. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have his war story directly from him!


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