An undated photo of Yelverton Thaxton, Jr. See below for a biographical sketch of Mr. Thaxton, who was a remarkable man.
A Biographical Sketch of Yelverton Thaxton, Jr.
With the coming of war, he enlisted at Atlanta in Co. I of the 14th Georgia Infantry on July 9, 1861. His age was given then as 38 (actually 37), older than most soldiers.
The 14th Georgia was a part of Thomas' Brigade. It's Colonel was Felix M. Price. Along with the Thirty-fifth Georgia Regiment (Colonel Edward L. Thomas), the Forty-fifth Georgia Regiment (Colonel Thomas Hardeman, Jr.) and the Forty-ninth Georgia Regiment, (Colonel A J Lane), the 14th was commanded by Brig. Genl. Anderson, and was assigned to A. P. Hill's division. Under the command of General Anderson, the brigade participated in the battles of Mechanicsville, fought June 26th; Gaines' Mill, June 27th; and Fraser's Farm, June 30th, 1862. Basically, the 14th could be found wherever Hill's division or corps was located. A statistical summary of the regiment is as follows:
Number of men originally enlisted: 769
Number of recruits: 328
Total Strength: 1097
LOSSES BY DEATH.*
Killed in action: 138
Died of disease: 212
Total of deaths: 350
LOSSES OTHERWISE THAN BY DEATH.*
Total of all losses: 954
As for Private Thaxton, he suffered more than his share of trials. Records show him admitted to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond suffering from hepatitis, from which he was sufficiently recovered to receive a 30 day furlough on November 26, 1862. A regimental return of the same period shows him detailed as a waggoner, and therefore not a real "soldier" according to some. However, he was enough of a soldier to find himself readmitted to Henningsen Hospital (again in Richmond) for treatment of a wound, or wounds, received at the Battle of Gettysburg. His records are incomplete from that point, but he was listed as "present" on returns for May through December, 1864. Sometime in December of 1864, Pvt. Thaxton received another furlough. The last record on roll shows him late in returning, and therefore AWOL, on Feb. 20, 1865. It is not known whether he ever made it back, or for what reason he was not present, but I suspect that once you read the information revealed in his pension application you could make a very accurate guess.
An anecdote of Pvt. Thaxton's war service is found in the diary of John Oliver Andrews of the 14th Ga. This diary was published by the Georgia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1940. In it John Andrews speaks of Yelverton Thaxton. I quote verbatim:
"The next batle I was in was at Gettsburg, Pa., July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1863. I was wounded the afternoon of the 3rd in Pickett's charge, laid on the battlefield in a wheat field until eleven o'clock that night, and was car- ried out by Alex. Holsenback (now living in Jasper County) to the field hospital. I laid there on the ground with no blanket or anything in the way of cover until one of my company, Yelverton Thaxton, split his blanket open and put half of it over me. A deed of this kind can never be forgotten."
Thomas' Brigade was not originally deployed to particpate in the Trimble, Pettigrew, Picket Charge, however, some of this brigade infer that they, indeed, were swept up in it.
Yelverton Thaxton's pension records help to fill in the gap in his service records, and fit nicely with the account of Private Andrews. In his initial application, dated March 7, 1896, Drs. John Mapp and W. C. Bryant attest to the following physical condition:
"On the 3rd day of July, 1863, he was disabled or wounded as follows:
At Battle of Gettysburg, ball entering just above left hip joint, breaking bone and coming out near back bone, fracturing same, from which wound back and hip are much weakened rendering deponent unable to stoop or bend down. Also wound in right foot. Also, wound in right or just below right shoulder. In consequence of all of said wounds deponent is rendered practically unable to perform the ordinary vocations of life or do any work at all."
Another portion of the application, the Drs. report that the ball which fractured his hip and back was still lodged near his spine. When read in conjunction with the account of Private Andrews, this pension information reveals a strength of character and generosity of spirit on the part Thaxton in that, even though severely wounded (at least once, and perhaps three times) he was still willing to share what little comfort he possessed with a compatriot.
The following quote is a clipping (taken verbatim) from his home-town newspaper, the "Jackson (Georgia) Record", dated May 6, 1904:
"For the past several weeks Mr. Yelvington (sic) Thaxton has suffered with blood poison in his right foot and leg. Finally, the decision to amputate became imperative. Dr. Durham of Atlanta performed the operation assisted by the Drs. Aiken, Thaxton, and Fletcher. The 80 year old patient stood the operation remarkably well, and before it was over he was telling jokes that had his surgeons in stitches."
Perhaps this operation was related to wound he suffered in the right foot during the war, but it is impossible to tell. It is also impossible to tell if the surgery recounted above contributed to Yelverton Thaxton's death just six weeks subsequent on June 17, 1904, but I suspect that it must have at least hastened it along. Family legend has it that, in spite of his reported demeamor with his doctors, he was so distressed by the loss of his foot that he refused to eat. True? Perhaps. Word is that the Thaxtons are a stubborn bunch...
* Information from: Heroes & Martyrs of Georgia