DEARING, Calvin Poindexter
Private Calvin Poindexter Dearing
Confederate Rebel With A Cause
by
Burnett W. Porter, Jr.
 
 

GETTYSBURG - VETERANS (Photo)


Calvin Poindexter Dearing , born October 29, 1842, grew up as a boy in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Bedford County, Virginia. His parents, Jabez and Nancy Stewart Dearing, had nine children, and at least four of their sons served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Calvin enlisted in the 28th Virginia Infantry at Lynchburg, Virginia, on June 1, 1861. He was a farmer, according to his military records and was assigned to Company G as a "wagoner." His records reflected that he experienced medical problems during the time that he served which included diarrhea, and remit fever. He was hospitalized at Charlottesville, Richmond, and Farmville, Virginia.

In February, 1862, Calvin re-enlisted and was given a 36 day furlough and fifty dollars bounty for his effort. He apparently was illiterate at that time because he signed his name on the document with an "X." He did learn to read and write to some degree later in life because he filled out/signed a form (with errors) in 1912 for a pension.

His military records show that Calvin participated in the battle of Gettysburg and was captured on July 3, 1863. In the book, The 28th Virginia Infantry, 1st Edition, written by Frank E. Fields, Jr., the author discribes some of the actions of that day and comments by Calvin as follows:

"As Pvt. Calvin P. Dearing of Company G crossed the wall, a musket ball knocked his rifle to the ground. Immediately, he reached for another weapon and picked up a Mississippi rifle. Believing the musket to be empty, Dearing placed a full load in the chamber. He quickly discovered that it had already been loaded when he pulled the trigger and the gun exploded. Dearing flew "back some ten feet in a double somersault": the musket traveled beyond him and landed in the ground "stock up." Shortly there after, Col. Allen, with a severe head wound, sat down beside Dearing. He removed his hat and said, "Dearing, whar is the colors? Then, he put his hat back on his head and died right there."

By 3:50 p.m., Federals were reinforcing their battered lines. Soon a double envelopment threatened Pickett's right. The confused and disorganized mass of Confederates recoiled from the freshly reinforced enemy line. Consequently, vast numbers of men in the 28th Virginia were captured. Dearing noted the "Yankees were sho'ly very nice to us. They didn't shoot after we got into the lines, but just told us to surrender, and we did."

Following his capture, Calvin was imprisoned at Fort Delware where he remained until his release on May 18, 1865, by order of the War Department. Calvin is quoted and discribes the treatment of the Confederate prisoners at Fort Delaware in the book Portals To Hell by Lonnie R. Speer and the Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXI (1913), pp. 592-93 as follows:

"Another method of punishment," reported prisoner Calvin Dearing, "was to require the victim to stand on the top edges of a barrel with the head knocked out and to hold a log so heavy that it took two men to hand it up to him. He was made to hold it for three hours. If he dropped it, he was shot." "When a new lot of men were brought in," related prisoner Calvin P. Dearing of Virginia, "the suter was permitted to sell pocket knives at $1 each. Then the guard, under the direction of 'Hike Out,' would force all the knives to be thrown into a barrel and they were given back to the sutler, who would repeat the act with the next new bunch."

Following his release, Calvin returned to Bedford, Virginia, and married Susan Francis Creasy on May 21, 1866, and twelve daughters were born to this union. Calvin and Susan are said to have arrived in Trigg County, Kentucky by boat on the Cumberland River, debarking at Linton, Kentucky. They established a home on the farm of a Mr. Tom Crenshaw where Calvin became a tenant farmer. Dark fired tobacco was said to have been the only type raised in the community at that time and Calvin was valuable to Mr. Crenshaw due to his knowledge of raising burley tobacco. Although he was recognized as a good farmer, particularly in growing tobacco, he is reported to have used his expertise as a supervisor, while his daughters did most of the work in the fields.

There are no records in Virginia or Kentucky indicating that Calvin and Susan ever owned any real estate. In 1912, Calvin applied for aid under the Act of the General Assembly of Kentucky, entitled "An Act granting pension to disabled and indigent Confederate soldiers." In the application Calvin swore that he was a member of Company G, 28th Virginia Infantry in the service of the Confederate States, and that by reason of disability and indigence he was entitled to receive the benefit of this Act. He further stated on the application that he was unable to earn a reasonable support for himself and family. Calvin stated that he was a farmer, earning not over $100 dollars per year, and hadn't been able to work for three years. He indicated that he farmed on shares only, owned no land, and his only real/personal estate were household goods valued at $1,100 dollars. One of the stories allegedly told by Calvin to his descendants was that he never took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Government when the Civil War ended.. However, when he signed up for a pension in 1912, he indicated that he did take the oath when he was released from Fort Delaware on May 18, 1865.

In 1913, Calvin attended a reunion held at Gettysburg for the Civil War veterans. Both Confederate and Union soldiers that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg were represented. A picture was taken of the veterans near the Bloody Angel battle site, and Calvin, dressed in a light coat and hat, is the tallest/most handsome old soldier that was at the reunion.

My Great Grandfather Calvin Poindexter Dearing passed away on August 26, 1929, which was two years before I was born. However, I do remember my Great Grandmother Susan Dearing even though I was only six years old when she passed away in 1937. I can remember her telling about seeing the cannon flashes at night in the Blue Ridge Mountains when she was a little girl during the Civil War. Calvin and Susan are buried in the East End Cemetary, Cadiz, Kentucky.

Was Calvin a "rebel with a cause?" I think so and part of it was to be a good father, grandfather, friend, and neighbor. He told of the friendships he made with Union veterans that attended the reunions at Gettysburg and how they were able to put aside the differences that seperated them during the war.

He was illiterate most of his life, owned very little material things, yet was quoted in Portals To Hell by Lonnie Spear, Confederate Veteran, Vol XXI (1913), and The 28th Virginia Infantry, by Frank E. Fields, Jr.. That is three publications and speaks well for the Blue Ridge Mountain boy from Bedford County, Virginia.

Burnett W. Porter, Jr.
3225 Happy Hollow Road
Hopkinsville, Ky. 42240