from the July 12, 2006 edition of The Barbour Democrat, Philippi, W.Va.

Two Civil War Soldiers Added To Honor Plaque

    Two names of Civil War veterans will be added to the Laurel Hill Battlefield Honor Plaque at opening dedication
ceremonies set for this Friday at the Battlefield Pavilion. To be named in this year's dedication are Confederate
soldier, Sergeant John Barret Pendleton, 23rd Va. Infantry, and Union soldier, Corporal John Peyton Byrne, 21st
Missouri Infantry.
    Sgt. Pendleton is the great, great grandfather of Dr. Jane Pendleton Wootton, of Louisa County, Va. His letters
back home have been appearing in The Barbour Democrat for several months now.
    Cpl. Byrne is a cousin of Ann Foster, Belington; Jerry Foster, Shinnston; Bob Byrne, Paige Byrne, Chase Byrne,
and Lars Byrne, all of Philippi. The Missouri veteran fought the war in the west, but was born in Preston County, Va.
His story has a unique twist and will be part of the dedication presentation.
    The dedication ceremony begins at 6 p.m.
Corporal John Peyton Byrne
Honored In West Virginia Ceremony
from the July 19, 2006 edition of The Barbour Democrat, Philippi, W.Va.
       CW VETERANS DEDICATION ---  Two more names were added to the Battle of Laurel Hill
Honor Roll Plaque at dedication ceremonies held at Camp Laurel Hill Friday evening, July 14. The ceremony
was the official opening of the annual
Battle of Laurel Hill Reenactment. Honored for their service in the Civil
War were Sgt. John Barret Pendleton, 23rd Virginia Inf., and Cpl. John Peyton Byrne, 21st Missouri Inf.
    Accepting for Sgt. Pendleton were Pamela and Art Dodds, in the character of Governor and Lady Pierpont.
Accepting for Cpl. Byrne were his distant cousins, Jerry Foster, Boothsville, and Lars Byrne, Philippi.
    Pictured at the ceremony were, left to right, Lars Byrne; Steve Cross and Jean Clark, Belington City
Council members; Mary Poling, House of Delegates from Barbour-Upshur Counties; Lynn Phillips,
representing Gov. Joe Manchin; Jerry Foster; Pamela and Art Dodds.  
(Barbour Democrat Digital Photo)
    I come here on this beautiful July evening to remember my great-great-great
uncle, I’m not so sure how many greats to use. I guess it would be just as easy to
say that Corporal John Peyton Byrne was a distant cousin, which would be just as
correct. The question that might be asked is just “why did I submit a name of a
Civil War veteran from Missouri for recognition at a Virginia battle site?” That’s
particularly true when I have a great, great grandfather, First Sergeant Norman
Squires, who was in Company F, 10th Infantry Regiment, West Virginia
Volunteers. I’ll nominate First Sergeant Squires at some other time.
    Cpl. John P. Byrne was born in Preston County, Va. in 1839, but that’s still
not the reason I nominated him for the Union Veteran Honor Roll. Both Cpl.
Byrne and the Confederate nominee this year, Sergeant John B. Pendleton, of the
23rd Infantry Regiment Virginia Volunteers, have something very unusual in
common– both are stories that point out that “You can come home again.”
However, in this case that’s about were the similarity ends!
    J.B. Pendleton wrote the letters that have been reprinted the past several
months in The Barbour Democrat. Those of us who read the letters kind of feel we
got to know him a little. He died here on these very grounds and was buried with
his compatriots on top of the hill [point]. After the war his family came back and
took him home for reburial.
    Cpl. Byrne was wounded in the war but he survived that ordeal to live until
1920 where he died in California. All too often, we here in West Virginia think
we, or maybe some others in Kentucky or Tennessee, are the only ones whose
family may have been divided by the politics of the War Between The States. Not
so! Briefly here is the story of my Civil War ancestor.
    My namesake to America is George Byrn who came from Ireland to this
country around 1730 to settle in Prince William County, Virginia. Three
generations later Samuel Byrne left Preston County, Virginia, and set out by ox
cart after 1850 and arrived in Missouri in 1852 and settled there not all that far
from Iowa. Samuel and five sons served in the war. John P. was one of the four
sons who served the Union, and the State of Missouri.

                   Samuel                29th Enrolled Missouri Militia, Co. A
                   John P.                Cpl, 21 Missouri Infantry, Co. I
                   Harrison H.          Sgt., 2nd Missouri State Militia Cavalry, Co. A
                   Lucian E.             Pvt., 51st Missouri Infantry, Company I
                   Joseph S.            Pvt., 29th Enrolled Missouri Militia, Co. A
                   Charles                Captain, 27th Virginia Infantry, Co. E, who had enrolled
                                                   in the Confederate army while at Lewisburg.

    John P. enlisted in June, 1861 in Memphis, Missouri, and first engaged in
battle at Athens, Missouri, where by the way, brother Harrison was wounded. With
the Army of the Tennessee his regiment fought at:
              1862     Shiloh, Tennessee, April 6-7; Booneville; Corinth; Grant’s
                              Mississippi Campaign
              1863     Garrison duty in Kentucky and Tennessee
              1864     Ordered to Vicksburg (remember battle was in July 1863) and going
      by Islands 70 and 71 was shot through the hand while aboard the “Sir
      William Wallace” by Confederate sharpshooters on shore. He was in
      and out of hospitals at Vicksburg and Memphis, Tennessee until his
      enlistment expired December 5, 1864.

    The 21st Missouri also fought in other battles such as Red River Campaign,
Tupelo, Nashville, Fort Blakely, Occupation of Mobile, et al.
    Since he was a farmer, we assume today that he left Missouri and the
family, because he could no longer make a living as a farmer. He went west and
raised his family in California. He died January 6, 1920 and records show he was
buried near Sacramento. Recent efforts by the Byrne family could never find his
burial site. In 2004, a cousin from Minnesota went there in an effort to find a head
stone and was unsuccessful. A caretaker at the cemetery informed my cousin, after
she inquired, that John P. Byrne had been given services there and was cremated,
but his ashes had never been claimed [wife had preceded him in death]. His
remains lay on a shelf in the building there for 84 years. After being named next of
kin, my cousin had his remains brought back to Missouri where he was buried
with full military honors– quite a special and extensive affair when I read the
Memphis (Mo.) Democrat. The entire community came out to remember John P.
and those who had served in the Civil War. His funeral in 2005 was the last GAR
officiated funeral service of a Civil War veteran.
    The point of all this more simply stated– Don’t forget your heritage...and in
this case, don’t give up on your own family history...
    ...You never know when you’ll find that special ancestor...he just might
have one extraordinary “shelf life.”
    I thank you for listening to my story here tonight. I would now ask that my
nephew, Jerry Foster [Ann and Junior Foster’s son] from Boothsville, come to
accept the dedication plaque.
Remarks of Lars Byrne made at
Battle of Laurel Hill Reenactment Honor Roll Dedication Ceremony
July 14, 2006, Laurel Hill Camp, Belington, West Virginia