Altavista, Virginia

The Avoca Estate – The Initial Burial Place Of The Last Confederate General To Die During The U.S. Civil War

In April 1865, Brigadier General James Dearing was the last Confederate general to die, of battle wounds that he sustained, before the end of the U.S. Civil War. Before his passing, a Union soldier, whom James Dearing had trained with before the war, paroled him. James Dearing was buried at a family cemetery in Altavista, Virginia, which with connected to the Lynch part of his family. In 1902, James Dearing was reinterred to the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia, a plot of land that General Jubal Early had stationed his reserve troops to, from June 17th to 18th, 1864.

The Avoca estate was designed by J.M.B. Lewis, as an American Queen Anne-style house and built in 1901.

Presently, the home serves as the site for the Avoca Musuem and Historical Society.

Author’s Note:

In 1841, after graduating from West Point, Robert Selden Garnett earned a 2nd Lieutenant commission in artillery and served in Buffalo and Fort Ontario, New York. Lieutenant Garnett would later serve in Fort Monroe and was sent to fight in the Battle of Buena Vista and the Battle of Monterey during the Mexican-American War. Lieutenant Garnett was sent to fight, under the command of General Zackary Taylor, during the Second Seminole War and served during the briefer Third Seminole War. After the Indian wars in Flordia ended, Lieutenant Garnett was sent back to Monterey, California to guard a post where he ending up drawing a design that became the first seal of California.

After Garnett’s superiors promised to promote him to major, he was sent to the Washington Territory to assist in the building of Fort Simcoe. Garnett sent to join the 1856 Yakima Expedition and served in the Yakima War against the Puget Sound Native Americans until 1858.

When the first states seceded to the Confederacy, Garnett was traveling through Europe. In April of 1861, Garnett resigned his commission with the U.S. Army and decided to join the Confederate army. On July 13th, 1861, shortly after ordering a retreat to Laurel Hill, after a defeat at the Battle of Rich Mountain, Confederate Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett was killed by a cannonball, that struck him while he was on his horse, during the Battle of Corrick’s Ford in western Virginia. Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett became the first general to die during the U.S. Civil War, after taking command of the West Virginia Confederate army after their defeat at the Battle of Philippi. After the Battle of Corrick’s Ford, Union soldiers found Brigadier General Garnett’s body, placed it in a wooden coffin, and gave him back to the Confederate army for burial. Brigadier General Garnett’s body was sent to his family in Baltimore, Maryland where he was initially buried. In 1865, Bridgader General Garnett was reinterred to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Sketch of the “Battle of Corrick’s Ford and the Body of General Garnett” from “Frank Leslie’s Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War”.

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