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Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Chancellors, Part 2

G.E. Chancellor's receipt to George W.E. Row, April 1882

     At the relatively tender age of seventeen George Washington Estes Row, my great grandfather, signed up as a private in Company E of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry. During the course of the Civil War three of Reverend Melzi Chancellor's sons--George, Thomas and Vespasian--would serve in the same regiment. Only two would come home alive.
     George Edwards Chancellor was born in Spotsylvania sometime between 1842 and 1845. Different ages are indicated in each of the censuses taken 1850-1880 as well as the Virginia Death Index, so his exact birthday has been difficult for me to pin down. However, there is no doubt that he was but a teenager when he and George W.E. Row rode into Fredericksburg on April 25, 1861 and were enlisted in the Ninth Cavalry by Francis C. Beverly.

Receipt for G.E. Chancellor's horse, 1863

     Demonstrating an intelligence and ability that also characterized his post-war life George Chancellor rose in the ranks, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. After the war he was referred to as "Major" Chancellor, which I assume was the rank to which he was brevetted, since the available archives do not show that he advanced beyond lieutenant. George had a brush with death on October 19, 1863 during the fight near Buckland Mills in Fauquier County. Chancellor's horse was killed in action that day. Like most Southern troopers, George had furnished his own mount and the following month he was duly compensated eleven hundred (Confederate) dollars.
     In the spring of 1864 Captain Robert K. Smith, commanding officer of Company E, was furloughed on sick leave. Lieutenant Chancellor got the nod to take Smith's place during his absence. While acting as commanding officer, Chancellor signed a number of routine requisitions. It is said that George Chancellor was wounded late in the war during the fighting around Petersburg. That may be so, but there is no mention of this in the archives that I can find. The only hint of this possibility appears on an Inspection Report which states that Chancellor was granted a furlough on the authority of General Robert E. Lee on December 16, 1864. The last official mention of him on January 31, 1865 shows that George Chancellor was absent without leave.
     Bringing home with him his bullet torn coat worn during many campaigns, George returned to Spotsylvania after the war. At some point he made the decision to give up farming as an avocation and moved to Fredericksburg to make his way as a merchant. The 1870 census shows that George, now a store clerk, was living in the household of Irish immigrant and dry goods merchant Patrick McCracken.

Chancellorsville, late 1800s. Courtesy of the Colvin Collection

     In 1876 Joseph Hooker came to Spotsylvania to visit the Chancellorsville battlefield. As described by one with him that day: "We were accompanied on our ride to the Chancellorsville field, some ten or twelve miles above Fredericksburg, by Major George E. Chancellor, a son of Melzi Chancellor, whose home at the time was Dowdall's Tavern, where General Howard had his headquarters. On setting out, General Hooker suggested that we should take some lunch with us, as when he was there last there was very little to eat in all that region. Major Chancellor thought it unnecessary, and in fact we feasted most sumptuously at his father's house." (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 3, p. 217)

Advertisement of G.E. Chancellor, 1884

     George Chancellor appears to have opened his store on Commerce (now William) street in Fredericksburg in late 1873. Based on the flyer above, it is clear that he catered to the needs of area farmers, including George W. E. Row.

Chancellor invoice to G.W.E. Row, October 1882

G.W.E. Row check to George E. Chancellor, May 1882

     Likewise, G.E. Chancellor was a customer of my great grandfather's saw mill in Spotsylvania. Below is an entry from one of George W.E. Row's ledgers, showing a purchase made by Chancellor.

Ledger of G.W.E. Row

     After Row's death in April 1883, my great grandmother had the responsibilty for settling her late husband's debts as the administratrix of his estate. Shown below is a receipt to M.E. Row by G.E. Chancellor.

Chancellor's receipt to Lizzie Row, June 1884

     George Chancellor never married. He died in Fredericksburg on November 12, 1887. The cause of his death as stated in his death notice is uncomfortably vivid: "a lingering disease of the stomach and other secretive organs, the trying ordeals of which he bore with soldierly manhood." He is buried in the Chancellor family cemetery.

The Free Lance 15 November 1887

The Free Lance 15 November 1887

At rest at Chancellorsville

     George's father and brothers Vespasian and Melzi, Jr. were named as executors of his estate. They wound down his business and sold off the inventory. Within a year Melzi, Jr. would reopen the store.

The Free Lance 13 December 1887





Thomas Frazer Chancellor

     George's younger brother, Thomas Frazer Chancellor, was born about 1845 in Spotsylvania. He enlisted in Company E of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry on March 1, 1862 and served with my great grandfather for two months before George Row transferred to the Sixth Cavalry. Thomas was captured near Gettysburg in October 1862 during Jeb Stuart's ride around McClellan's army to steal horses and provisions. Young Thomas was imprisoned at Fort Delaware before being exchanged in December.
     Like George W.E. Row, Thomas Chancellor was a courier for Jeb Stuart. A charming and amusingly written incident which took place in December 1862 is described in The Perfect Lion: The Life and Death of Confederate Artillerist John Pelham by Jerry H. Maxwell:
     "On a cold and windy December 10, Private Thomas Frazer Chancellor, a courier for Stuart, arrived at Camp No-Camp with exciting news. A country ball would be held that evening at the the crossroads known as Chancellorsville, barely ten miles away and the general and his staff were cordially invited to attend the festivities. Stuart declined the invitation, but he allowed a handful to show up, provided they return to camp the following morning. The select group included Pelham, von Borcke, Blackford, Major Lewis Terrell, Lieutenant Chiswell Dabney and Captain Phillips. Banjoist Sam Sweeney, "Mulatto Bob" and two fiddlers were conscripted to provide the musical entertainment." This improbable group of men commandeered an ambulance that fell apart soon after hitting a tree stump covered in snow. Blackford was thrown from the ambulance and knocked unconscious. They managed to patch up the remnants of their conveyance and "After an hour of torture...we reached the scene of the evening's festivities. Private Thomas Chancellor greeted the beleaguered travelers and proceeded to introduce them all around." Dinner was served at midnight and they danced until three a.m.
     It may be true that lightning does not strike twice in the same place, but for the doomed Thomas Chancellor this sadly proved to be the case when his regiment visited Gettysburg a second time. Thomas was wounded during the fighting on July 1. After lingering for two weeks he died on July 15, 1863. He is buried in the Chancellor family cemetery.




Vespasian Chancellor

     Vespasian Chancellor, the oldest son of Reverend Melzi and Lucy Chancellor, was born on November 22, 1838. The year before the start of the Civil War twenty one year old Vespasian was working as a farmer on his father's home at Dowdall's Tavern. Vespasian rode with the Ninth Cavalry, like my great grandfather, but not at the same time and not under the same circumstances.

Vespasian Chancellor in uniform

     Vespasian enlisted in Company C of the Virginia Thirtieth Infantry on July 3, 1861. His career in the Confederate infantry consisted of driving wagons for the quartermaster corps. This phase of his military service came to an end in May 1862 when he was admitted to the Confederate Army's General Hospital in Charlottesville where his uncle, Dr. James E. Chancellor, worked as a surgeon. Private Chancellor suffered from "functional disease of the heart and anemia." He was furloughed in October 1862 and remained on the war's sidelines, as far as I know, until he enlisted in Company E of his brother George's regiment, the Ninth Cavalry, on February 1, 1864. Trooper Vespasian Chancellor was detached to Jeb Stuart's headquarters. His activities are described as those of a scout and spy.
     After the war Vespasian returned home to his father's house, where he once again worked as a farmer. In 1877 he was, I believe, postmaster at Chancellorsville.
From the estate sale of Nancy Estes Row

     In January 1873 Vespasian rode out to Greenfield to see what might be available at the estate sale of my great grandmother, Nancy Estes Row. He spent $5.30 and came home with a lot of carpet, a bed cord and a lot of books. Ten years later Vespasian attended the estate sale of George W.E. Row, who had died of pneumonia at age 39 on April 18, 1883. The estate sale was held at  the site of my great grandfather's saw mill, located on Joseph Talley's farm near Finchville, on September 25. The sale was conducted by Fredericksburg auctioneer James Roach, a friend of George Row who rode with him in the Sixth Cavalry. That day Vespasian bought three log chains, spending $13.25.

Broadside for Row estate sale

From the estate sale of G.W.E. Row

     In 1884 Vespasian Chancellor visited the Chancellorsville battlefield with two hundred other veterans from both North and South. In the photograph below Vespasian is seated at the far right. Standing to the left behind him are Union General Rosecrans and the extravagantly bewhiskered General James Longstreet.

Chancellorsville, 1884. Courtesy of the National Park Service

     Vespasian Chancellor married his first cousin, Sanford's Chancellor's daughter Susan Margaret, on March 8, 1893. They lived in town at 300 Caroline Street. The 1900 census shows that his occupation remained farming. Vespasian and Sue Chancellor's household also included two servants. Amanda Henderson was the cook and Robert Henderson was the "driver."
     Vespasian died at home in Fredericksburg on April 28, 1908. He and Sue, who outlived him by 27 years, are buried in the Chancellor family cemetery.

The Free Lance 30 April 1908





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