Company "C" 4th W.Va. Cavalry

Submitted by Steve Gill.


Medal of Edgar J. Beagle
Owned by Steve Gill.


     Born in that part of Harrison County, Virginia that became Taylor County when he was five years old, Edgar Johnson Beagle the son of David and Mary Beagle was required to grow up fast. As the oldest son in the family his work on the farm was much required. By 1850 “Jonce” as his friends and family called him had two older sisters and a younger brother and when his father died prior to 1860, Jonce became not only the man of the house but it’s principal bread winner and with his younger brother continued to manage the family farm.

     But the advent of the new decade brought much trouble not only to Taylor County, but also to the entire United States, as Edgar Johnson Beagle watched his whole country fall completely apart. With all of his responsibilities at home Jonce wasn’t quick to leave the farm in order to fight for one cause over the other but there was never any doubt in his mind where his loyalties lay. His family had their roots not only in Virginia but they had come from Pennsylvania and therefore would support the North as the Civil War began boiling all around them.

     Shortly after the news of the Battle of Gettysburg had filtered into his town of Flemington in the brand new state of West Virginia, Jonce made up his mind and enlisted in the 4th West Virginia Cavalry as a private. This was a one-year Regiment and the muster rolls in the official records show that Edgar Johnson Beagle was present throughout the life of the Regiment. Mostly engaged in the protection of the Railroad, the 4th Cav. Found itself badly outnumbered and badly whipped by Confederate General Rosser in its only real engagement during Rosser’s raid into West Virginia. When the Regiment mustered out in March of 1864, Jonce kept his cavalry revolver paying $12.67 to the government in order to do so.

     Returning to his beloved Flemington, Jonce went back to the farm but the distant sound of guns kept his mind on a war and a duty not yet complete. Although not required to do so because of his previous service, Edgar Johnson Beagle listened to the recruiter and accepted the $100.00 bounty and joined the 17th West Virginia Infantry on February 16, 1865 in the capital of Taylor County—Grafton. He was listed on the muster in rolls as a farmer, 6’1” with Grey eyes and dark hair. For 1865, this was a pretty big man. Shortly after enlisting, his Company K was ordered to Wheeling, then the capital of West Virginia and his group was quartered in the basement of the Court House. Unfortunately, the basement was nothing but mud and water and was so bad that one soldier said you could see the impression in the mud of every man when he got up in the morning. Immediately after leaving these inhumane conditions, Jonce started having health problems. But he stuck it out with the Regiment and just like his service with the 4th Cav.; he is listed as present at every muster roll. The war came to an end and the 17th West Virginia Infantry was mustered out of service on June 30, 1865.

     Once again back home in Flemington, Jonce was coming into his own. It is most fortunate for us that he soon met and married Mary Susan Sincel, the daughter of John Wesley Sincel and Elizabeth Yates, both well-known families throughout the county. Susan’s great Grandfather came to this country as a Hessian Soldier and was captured by the Continental Army and then hidden by these same Americans when the prisoner exchange was completed at the end of the Revolution. Johannes Sincel and his sons migrated west from Loudon and Fauquier Counties, Virginia into what became Taylor and laid down deep roots. The family produced Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians and entrepreneurs of every description. Susan’s mothers family were some of the earliest families to establish a farm in what became Taylor County and the name Yates as well as Sincel is still prevalent in the county to this day.

     The Rev. B. Bailey married Jonce and Mary in the home of their good friend Thomas J. Waller the week before Christmas 1868. At the same time the state of West Virginia was trying to contact all those who had fought for the United States from the state in the Civil War, in order to present to them a medal the state had minted specifically for them in their name to honor their service. It seems the word on this reward never reached the outskirts of Flemington and to this day Beagle has not received the medal that he so rightfully earned. But Taylor County was experiencing a boom time. The mines were open and the railroad was growing. Beagle found an opportunity and went to work for the railroad by 1870. Two years later Susan bore him their first and only child, Fannie Maude Beagle.

     Sometime after this a huge mine opened up just down the road from Flemington and the community of Tyrconnell sprang up from the mines of the same name. Here Jonce and Susan would not only have a home but Jonce could become a coal minor. And so by 1880 Edgar Johnson Beagle is listed as a minor in the Tyrconnell mines. But continuing health problems plagued him and he could not seem to work the hours and therefore make the money that the other minors were making. In May, 1884 he finally submitted the paperwork to the US Government for a pension to help make up a little of the difference from the injuries he received as a result of his service to his country. But the Pension process was a long one and it took a lot of time and work. By the time of his application, Jonce was listed as 6’2” and was down to a terribly thin 150 pounds. The Rheumatism he had contracted at the Court House in Wheeling was really beginning to wear him down. Alfred Sinclair tells us “I have known him since the war, have visited him frequently while he was confined to his bed and room with Rheumatism. He is much worse at times than others, I believe him unable to do manual labor and know he has complained of Rheumatism and a cough ever since the war.”

     Sinclair was a life long friend of Beagles and said that Jonce was a very fit man before joining the army and that he had worked with Jonce nearly every day before he left and after he came home, Alfred said he had witnessed the day to day deterioration of his friend due to the Rheumatism. Robert Crayton, a friend and fellow soldier tells us that he has been acquainted with Jonce for 20 years and he knew him when he first enlisted as “a sound hearty man” and was “a good and efficient soldier before the sickness”. Another soldier George Brenard talks about the “stout hearty” condition of Jonce before the Wheeling Court House encampment. He said he remembered putting the ramrod from his gun through a knothole in the floor of this basement and it “would enter the water”. Several of the soldiers were complaining of these deplorable conditions when the company was ordered to break camp and march to Weston in Lewis County. Brenard tells us that it was here that they were ordered to guard a wagon train of supplies that was going to Jacksonville, but Jonce Beagle’s feet and ankles were so swollen that he couldn’t get his shoes on and he sure couldn’t walk, so George put Jonce on one of the wagons and the supplies were delivered without incident. The Rheumatism continued for the rest of Jonce service and George stated under oath that his feet were still swollen when they were discharged. “Many of the men got sick,” he said but Beagle’s cough was worse than most and stayed around the longest. It’s hard to imagine sleeping in this mud and water for almost two months in the middle of the cold winter of Northern West Virginia! In the end, this would be the end of Edgar Johnson Beagle.

     While it is true that there may have been many Civil War pensioners that may not have really deserved a pension, this was certainly not the case with Jonce Beagle. The original examining Doctor talks about deformities in his body, feet turned in, spinal column curved left and other problems, all the result of the Rheumatism. At some point Jonce and Susan move back to Flemington to live out his last days on this earth. Dr. W.C. Curry of Flemington, who has written his name in the history of this region because of his work with the sick and injured, makes the case that Edgar Johnson Beagle died at least in some part as a result of his service to his country. In his sworn statement made for Susan Sincel Beagle in her request for a widow’s pension, in part---“I attended said Edgar Johnson Beagle in his last illness. He died the 9th day of April, 1900 of Lagrippe complicated with weak lungs super induced by Rheumatism.” And “The attack of Lagrippe was not apparently severe, and in my opinion would not have proven fatal, only for the above named chronic diseases”. It appears that in his last days, Jonce was completely disabled from at least March 25th. Susan would spend many years as a widow.

     Since Jonce and Susan had only one child, it might seem that there would be very few descendents to care one way or another about him or his legacy, but his only daughter married John Lewis Summers and in another of those amazing ironies that seem to arise so often in these Central Highlands, Summers was the son of John Summers who gave his life for the Confederacy at Elmira, New York Prisoner of War Camp only three months before his son John Lewis is born and together this couple, John Lewis and Fannie Maude (Beagle) Summers had some eight children who grew to adulthood and their descendents were many. I have to admit I really don’t know what happened to all of them, only that I am one. It is my belief that none of us have thrown our shadow over the final resting place of this forefather, Edgar Johnson Beagle in many, many years.

     His Grandchildren may not have looked on him as a hero, but clearly he gave his life for his country just as if he had been shot on the battlefield. Throughout the rest of his life after his service, he suffered for doing his duty—a duty he did not have to do, and in the end even the best Doctor in the county had to agree that had he not suffered as a direct result of that service then he would not have died at the young at of 62.

     Edgar Johnson Beagle, grandson of the Revolution, son of pioneers, farmer, soldier, railroader, father, Christian, husband, coal minor, patriot, the State of West Virginia has been looking for you for the past 137 years. They have a medal they would like to present to you. A medal for you that says thank you for your service to your family, your state, your country and to your God. And to that I would add a thank you for the life that would eventually become mine. It is my intention to find you and once and for all see to it that this award is properly presented and to honor my Great-Great Grandfather.

     Now if I could only find his grave.

          Steve Gill

Webpage by Linda Cunningham Fluharty.


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