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Written by Al Peoples; edited by Cheri Todd Molter

Based on a Family’s Oral Tradition

Union General William T. Sherman met with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865 at Bennett Place near what is now Durham, N.C., and Johnston surrendered his Army of Tennessee. At this time, Gen. Sherman headed back to Washington, D.C. His troops, commanded by Generals Howard and Logan, followed over a period of time. The Union soldiers marched from Raleigh to Washington, DC, through Louisburg and Warrenton, NC. At some point, part of the Union Army marched to the Louisburg College campus, where some camped from May 1, 1865 until at least June 18, 1865. There were thousands of soldiers camped in the oak grove surrounding the college and throughout the town. During that time, the Main Building was used as a hospital.

When the troops arrived in town, a sick Union soldier was carried into the home of Algernon and Ann Strother, my great-great-grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law. As the story goes, “Algie” had not returned home from the war, and Ann, allowed William J. Waggoner, of Company A, 5th Ohio Calvary, USA, into their home and cared for him as best she could. Ann shared what food and medicine she had with Waggoner until he died. Waggoner’s military records state that he “died of disease on July 22, 1865, at Louisburg, NC.” He was buried locally at Oakwood Cemetery.

In April, 1911, William Waggoner’s brother, J. J. Waggoner, came to Louisburg to find his brother’s grave. He found that the grave had been well cared for by the citizens of the community, and decided to leave his brother there rather than return the body to his home in Ohio. While in Louisburg, Waggoner visited with Ann at the Strother home. For many years, on Confederate Memorial Day, an American flag was placed at Waggoner’s grave. Eventually, I found out that it was my now-deceased mother who remembered him with our country’s flag. She was far from a Yankee sympathizer, but she felt sorry for him being buried so far from home.

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