SUBMITTED BY: Cynthia West Abbott (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
My grandfather, Sidney Fleming West, and his brother remembered sitting at the feet of their grandfather, Charles Fleming West, while he entertained them with detailed stories of the battles he’d fought in and showed them the five scars he had from the wounds he’d sustained during the battle at Gettysburg. He survived that fateful attack when, after Gen. Alfred Iverson ordered his brigade, which included four North Carolina regiments (5th, 20th, 23rd, and 12th), forward through an exposed field, the regiment was attacked by Union forces who stood up from behind a rocky ridge and fired, bringing down a great number of the N.C. 23rd’s soldiers, many of whom fell in almost the same straight line that they had been marching in. Fleming’s compiled military record states that he was captured at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, and then he was taken to Fort Delaware. After being confined at Forth Delaware for several months, Fleming West was transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, on October 15, 1863. He spent some hellish months at Point Lookout, and then was paroled and exchanged in March 1864. He returned to serve with his company on November 30, 1864 and remained in service until his regiment was surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865. However, that was not Fleming’s first visit to Fort Delaware…
Charles Fleming West was born on January 22, 1837 in Granville County, North Carolina. He was the eldest son of Thomas West, a blacksmith & farmer, and Mildred Currin [also recorded as “Kern” on some documents] West (Virginia Death Certificates, Accessed on Ancestry, Aug. 31, 2020). On June 17, 1861, Fleming enlisted in the Confederate Army at a place called Waterloo. He mustered into Company I, 23rd Infantry (North Carolina) that same day. On Sept. 15, 1862, Fleming was captured near Boonsboro, Maryland and later confined at Fort Delaware. On Nov. 10, 1862, he was exchanged back to his regiment at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia. As previously mentioned, Fleming was taken prisoner again at Gettysburg, but he survived his war experiences, as did his brother, William Robert West.
William Robert West also served with Company I of the 23rd Infantry (N.C.), enlisting as a Private on July 8, 1862. He was taken prisoner twice during the war: First, on May 12, 1864, he was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, and the second time, West was taken prisoner on March 25, 1865 at Fort Stedman, Virginia. He was confined for a total of six months at Point Lookout (he was there twice) and for about 2 months at Elmira, New York. He was not present for the surrender at Appomattox, as he was still being held at Point Lookout, but he was released after taking the Oath of Allegiance that June. After the war, Robert returned to Maryland and worked there, earning a great deal of money. After a few years, Robert returned to Granville County, North Carolina, and on Oct. 2, 1870, he married Elizabeth “Betty” Greenway.
Charles Fleming West’s first cousin, Stephen Spencer West, also fought for the Confederate Army during the war. Stephen served in the same company and regiment as Robert and Fleming, enlisting on Feb. 28, 1862, shortly after his only son, George Spencer West, was born. Stephen died on May 2, 1863 at Chancellorsville, Virginia.
After the war ended, my great-great-grandfather, Charles Fleming West, returned to Granville County, and he married Mary Frances “Fanny” Usry on June 20, 1866. The couple raised a family together. By 1910, Fleming and Fanny (who had become blind) were living with a couple of their adult children, and by 1920, they were living with my great-grandfather, Joe West, and his family. My grandfather, Sidney Fleming West, and his brother Bennie, remembered sitting at their grandfather’s feet listening to him tell stories about the war and his injuries. Sidney Fleming West was always so proud to have been named for his grandfather, who was a hero to him.
Charles Fleming West and Mary Frances West died just a couple of months apart from each other. They were both living in Virginia with one of their daughters at the time. Fanny died first, on March 7, 1922, and Fleming died on May 9th. They were both buried at Henderson, North Carolina.