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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Elhanon Winchester Row

Dr. Elhanon Row, 1887

     Elhanon Row (1833-1900) was born in Orange County to Captain Elhanon Row and Mary Dawson Sanders. Both Elhanon and his father--the younger brother of Absalom Row--were named for noted eighteenth century evangelist Elhanon Winchester. Like his father Thomas Row, the senior Elhanon was sheriff of Orange County and was acknowledged as "Colonel Row" because of his service in the Virginia militia. The younger Elhanon's brother John was deputy sheriff in the same county, serving under Sheriff James L. Robinson at the outbreak of the Civil War.
Elhanon Row, 1850s

     After completing his common school education, Elhanon taught for a time in the public schools of Alexandria. He attended classes at the University of Virginia 1856-57 and received his degree in medicine from the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania in 1858.
     His medical practice in Orange was just barely established when Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861. On May 4 he joined Company I of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, the "Orange Rangers." In February 1862 he was named as assistant surgeon at the hospital established at Orange Court House. The following month he transferred to the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry, where he served as regimental surgeon for the remainder of the war. Coincidentally, Company H of the Fourteenth was comprised largely of young men from Rockbridge County, including uncles and other relatives of young Lizzie Houston, my great grandmother.

Dr. Elhanon Row, Sixth Virginia Cavalry

     After the debacle at the battle of Gettysburg, Elhanon Row stayed behind to care for his wounded men and was captured by Federal forces on July 5, 1863. He was transported to Fort McHenry, Maryland which was then being used as a prisoner of war facility housing 110 Confederate surgeons and 10 chaplains as well as assorted southern sympathizers from Maryland.
     Conditions at Fort McHenry were better than those found at many of the other hellholes where Confederate prisoners were housed. Nevertheless, Elhanon still fell prey to dysentery, which was rampant in these places. He was admitted to the prison hospital on October 20, 1863 and remained there for almost a month. He was exchanged as a prisoner of war on November 21 and was released at City Point, Virginia. Elhanon was still sick, however, and was admitted to General Hospital No. 4 in Richmond on November 25. On December 3 he received a forty day furlough to finish his convalescence in Lynchburg.

Pay voucher for surgeon E.W. Row, September 1864

     As soon as he was able Dr. Row returned to his regiment. He managed to avoid capture a second time during the disastrous battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. With the bedraggled remnants of the Fourteenth Cavalry, Elhanon was surrendered by General Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
     After the war Elhanon returned to Orange and resumed his medical practice. In 1875 he married Ida Newman and had one daughter, Lottie, who survived to adulthood. Dr. Elhanon Row was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in the mid 1880s. He was instrumental in passing the legislation that created the Virginia Medical Examining Board. In recognition for this accomplishment he was elected president of the Medical Society of Virginia in 1889. 

Richmond Dispatch, 24 May 1900

     Elhanon died on May 23, 1900 and is buried near his brother John in Graham Cemetery in Orange County.

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