Company "E" 14th W. Va. Infantry


Charles & Lavina Jane (Smith) Wells.

Submitted by Rebecca Cole.

Charles Wells was born 25 March 1837, Hebron, Tyler County, West Virginia. He was the seventh child of Benjamin and Mary (Ruffner) Wells. His father owned many acres, so he probably was kept busy doing chores on the farm as a child.

He is listed with his parents on the VA 1850 census as follows: Benjamin 62, Farmer, $17,000 Real Estate, born in Virginia and wife Mary 48, William 25 Farmer, Mariah 23, Selmon 15, Charles 13, and James 11, all born in Virginia.

The 1860 Virginia Census shows him in the Sistersville District of Tyler County. By then he had married Lavina Jane Smith of William and Susanna (Gorrell) Smith of Hebron, (Pleasants County today) on 3 November 1859 in Hebron. Their ages were given as Charles, 23 and Lavina, 27 on the 1860 census. They lived next to his father Benjamin, a widower. Charles was listed as a farm hand, with Real Estate value of $128.

Their first child, Maxie Rebecca was born 29 December 1860 in Hebron, Pleasants County, (W) Virginia. The second, Mary Corbet Sophia Wells was born 29 April 1863 in Hebron while Charles was serving in the service. (Mary C.S. was my grandmother).

With the outbreak of the Civil War, there must have been much turmoil in this young man's life...eager to protect his family from any harm and his desire to uphold his beliefs. Charles was mustered into Company “E”, 14th Volunteer Infantry, August 29, 1862 in Wheeling as a Union Private.

"Charles Wells, a Private of Captain William Powell, Company "E" of the 14th Regiment of West Virginia Volunteer Infantry was born in Tyler County, Virginia. He was 25 years of age; 5 feet 10 inches tall with a fair complexion; gray eyes and light hair. He was a farmer and enlisted in Wheeling, West Virginia on the 29th day of August 1862. It continues to say that he died November 6, 1864. It says that he received clothing in the amount of $51.31 since August 31st 1863. He received $25 advanced bounty.” It was signed by Captain William Powell at Camp Russel, Virginia on 26 November 1864.

Charles was injured severely at the Battle of Berryville, Virginia on September 3, 1864. He was taken to the hospital at Frederick, Maryland. The surgeon’s report on September 17th states that a mini ball entered his left temporal bone and passed inward and upward. He had some paralysis and total blindness in his left eye and total deafness in his left ear. The doctor reported that he was in fair condition and that he insisted upon sitting up in bed to eat. His speech was thick, but gradually improved until he could speak quite plainly.

On the second day in the hospital at Frederick, the surgeon found and extracted one third of a conical bullet. By September 29th, some vision had returned and by the 21st, he could count the fingers on his hand when held close to his face. By October 10th , he was “going about in good health and could walk when assisted. At the end of the day, he felt pain in his left temple.”

His wife Lavina visited him and he wrote to her on October 21st the following:

My Dear Wife, It is a pleasure that I write to you, hoping you have got home. I hope that I will be transferred in a short time. The Dr. said if I would be transferred in a few days, he would send me on furlow. Don’t look to anxious for me, but I will come home as soon as I can. I am getting along as well as I can and hope you and the children are well. I remain your most kind an affectionate Husband until death. Charles Wells to L.J. Wells.

Charles was transferred to the Grafton Hospital in West Virginia on November 2, 1864. Shortly after his arrival, he became chilled and had convulsions. The report said “further findings make it very remarkable that the patient could live in possession, apparently of all his faculties and senses for over two months from the receipt of the injury.” He died on November 6th and was sent home for burial at Beech Run Chapel Cemetery, near Wasp, West Virginia. He is buried near his mother and father-in-law, William and Susannah (Gorrell) SMITH.


I believe that he lived that long, due to his determination to return to his wife and daughters. The surgeon's report states that he was amazed that he lived as long as he did.

Lavina (Smith) Wells married Leonard C. Shingleton, a widower with five children, on 15 November 1865. His first two wives died at childbirth. He and the three wives are buried in the Hebron M.E. Cemetery, as well as some of his children.

Sources: 1850 VA Tyler County Census; 1860 VA Tyler County Census; Enlistment papers, letters from Charles Wells to wife Lavina during the war, letters from State Agent Jacob Hornbrook, letter from the Surgeon General 's office, and various letters included in the complete file of Charles Wells at NARA.