Sacrifice All for the Union
The Civil War Experiences of Captain John Valley Young and his Family
Company G, 13th and 11th Regiments West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865
by Philip Hatfield, PhD
The story of Captain John Valley Young personifies the body of rugged Union Army volunteers from West Virginia during the Civil War: highly resilient, stubbornly independent, and fiercely patriotic. Using Captain Young’s wartime letters to his wife, Paulina Franklin Young, and his daughters, Sarah and Emily Young, along with his diary and numerous other original soldier accounts, this book reveals the experiences of a Union soldier and his family who were truly willing to “Sacrifice All for the Union.”
Young, a farmer and Methodist-Episcopalian minister prior to the Civil War, during April 1861 raised a company of Union volunteers at the strongly pro-Southern village of Coalsmouth, Virginia, (modern St. Albans, West Virginia). He was adamantly opposed to slavery, yet often expressed a bitter ire at having to fight a violent civil war because his beloved nation had thus far failed to eradicate the awful practice.
While he displayed an unshakeable desire to preserve the Union, Young’s convictions were severely tested as he and his family faced constant dangers from guerillas and Confederate raids in the Kanawha Valley. Captain Young also participated in more than one hundred skirmishes and eleven major engagements in the bloody Shenandoah Valley, and at Petersburg, and Appomattox; more than any other Union officer from West Virginia. He died from tuberculosis in 1867, a sad irony after surviving some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
Utilizing the wartime letters to his family and personal diary of Captain John Valley Young, in addition to documents from fellow soldiers, family members and friends, Philip Hatfield has woven a compelling and complex portrait of a Union officer from Putnam County, West Virginia, facing the harsh realities of the Civil War. Constantly plagued by military bureaucracy and inept commanders, Hatfield shows how Captain Young persisted in defense of the Union against bushwhackers and guerillas early in the war, and eventually against the Confederate army in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, through the trench warfare at Petersburg, ending with the final shots at Appomattox. Older than the average soldier of his time and beset by ill health the last two ears of the war, Captain Young refused to relinquish his command until his beloved country was once again at peace. – Author/Historian Terry Lowry
About the Author
Philip Hatfield, Ph.D., is a member of the Company of Military Historians, and holds a doctorate in psychology from Fielding University; a master’s degree in psychology from Marshall University; and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and history from the University of Charleston. Dr. Hatfield is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and is the author of five books and numerous scholarly articles related to the Civil War. He is a native of Hurricane, West Virginia.