This biographical sketch, provided by BRIAN STUART KESTERSON, is an addendum to his 2005 book,
Campaigning with the 17th Virginia Cavalry, Night Hawks at Monocacy.
Original material for this sketch was provided by George L. McLaughlin, Jasper, Georgia (Aug. 2005).
The cost of the book is $26.20, including postage. To order, contact Brian: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hugh "Nelson" McLaughlin
Hugh “Nelson” McLaughlin enlisted in the Confederate service at Little Birch on 9/25/1862 and became a member of Company I, 17th Virginia Cavalry. He was born on June 28, 1846 at Flatwood, (West) Virginia and died at the Elkins, West Virginia Odd Fellows Home in April 1936. He was the son of Jacob Warwick McLaughlin and Agnes F. Boggs. His wife was Pamelia Jane McLaughlin who was born on January 11, 1845 in Braxton County, (West) Virginia. She was the daughter of William H. Hudkins and Mary “Polly” Boggs. She died at her home in Gassaway, West Virginia in June 1929.
Nelson’s paternal grandparents came from Ireland to Bath County, Virginia and thence moved westward to Randolph County where both died. Jacob W. McLaughlin his father located in Braxton County first on Elk River, and then on Steer Creek, where he died in 1850. Nelson’s brother, Thomas B. McLaughlin enlisted in the Union army on May 3, 1862 in Company F, 10th West Virginia Infantry. He was in the battles of Droop Mountain, Beverly, Lewisburg and Opequan. At Fishers Hill he was wounded in the right thigh, and taken to the hospital at York, Pennsylvania. Upon his recovery he returned to his command while it was before Richmond, and received an honorable discharge on July 1, 1865. When he mustered out he held the rank of Corporal in his company. Another brother, Jacob Warrick , died at Sutton, West Virginia.
Nelson’s other brothers, Richard J., and James B. served in the Confederate army. Richard J. was wounded at Gettysburg, returned to his command and was taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness, and died at Point Lookout. James B. was also captured at the Wilderness, and held until the close of the war. Nelson’s official service records state that he deserted on 10/30/1864 but this in error. Family records state that he had previously been captured by the Yankees and returned to the regiment as soon as he was released. Then he was captured a second time and released on paroled at the end of the war.
Two stories have survived dealing with Nelson’s service. They are both related by his grandson, George L. McLaughlin of Jasper, Georgia who was 17 years old when his grandfather died in 1936. They are given in their entirety: “ My grandfather often said that the Civil War was a brutal war with much bloodshed and hand to hand combat. He said that the guns that they had were not worth a hoot and they were often face to face with the enemy fighting and killing at close quarters. While he was soldiering in Tennessee he saw some movement in a brush pile. He ordered that the person show themselves. Upon receiving no reply he fired into the brush pile but could not go to see if he had shot anyone as his unit had to move out. Not long after this one of Nelson’s relatives who was a Confederate soldier also came home with a very similar story. He had stated that while he was soldiering in Tennessee he was being chased by a group of Yankees. Seeing a brush pile close by he crawled into it to hide from the Yankees. He then noted that he was fired on and shot near the knee by someone. It is not known if Nelson was the one who shot his relative in the knee but such is the strange fate of war.
I asked him one time why he joined the Confederate army. He said, ‘I was 16 years old and the Union army was coming through West Virginia. Union soldiers killed a neighbor boy 12 years old. The Yankees took this young boy and cut his head off and then cut open his stomach and stuffed his head in his stomach. I was scared to death about this and realized that I would be safer in the army than at home. I left home and joined up with the first Confederate unit that I came into contact with.’ He did not have any horse at this time. My grandfather was a carpenter by trade and when his wife died he came to live with us for awhile. He was a member of the Odd Fellows and held several offices in that organization. The last post that he was in he had to resign due to ill health and old age and then my father took over the duties as he was a member of the Odd Fellow also. My grandfather decided that since he had paid into the Odd Fellows for so long that he thought that he would spend his final days there. He died at the Elkins, West Virginia Odd Fellows Home in 1936. He and his wife, Pamelia Jane Hudkins McLaughlin are buried in the Beall’s Cemetery, between Sutton and Gasaway, Braxton County, West Virginia.”
Family stories state that Nelson went to a reunion at Gettysburg around 1900. This was probably the 50th Anniversary Reunion in July 1913. While here he purchased a post card that details his trip. It is given in its entirety:
This is one of the cards I bought from Gettysburg. I think it is very nice. Lee’s picture is as natural as life. We had a great time out there the Yankees and Johnies were the jolliest crowd I ever seen. There was thousands of us there. I got so sick that I would have got off the car at Deer Park and lay down on the grass, but I was afraid that I would die and no body would know what had become of me, but I hung on and got through home on the evening of the 4th. It was the worst forth I ever spent.
On April 17, 2005 George L. McLaughlin the grandson of Hugh Nelson McLaughlin former member of Company I, 17th Virginia Cavalry was recognized by the Daughters of the Confederacy for his WWII military service and being a descendent of a Confederate soldier. He was awarded the “Cross of Military Service” No. 15,217. Mr. McLaughlin was in the National Guard in 1938 and then went into active status in 1940 and was then placed in the 201st Infantry and given the rank of Operations Sergeant. He was sent to Alaska and was in Island Command and attached to General Buckner. He served in the Aleutian Islands Campaign and was then sent to operate in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon and served in this position until the war ended. He was the only man in his unit to receive a direct commission and held the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.