Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charles C. Walker, Sr., A ranger during the Revolution

(Family Lineage: 1 Charles Walker Sr.; 2 Charles Walker, Jr.; 3 Eliza Frances Walker; 4 Emarine Bartram;
5 Queen Rebecca Dickerson; 6 Edna Bethel Franklin; 7 Judith Ann Hayward)

1755 - 1810
As an Englishman who had migrated to America in 1737, you have to wonder how Charles' father would have felt if he had still been alive when his son joined the movement to free America from Great Britain. Proud? Disturbed? Hurt?  On the other side of the family, Charles' mother, Elizabeth Taylor, was related to a future president, President Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States, who took office in 1849 and died only 16 months later of an unknown cause (fodder for another post?).

In 1774, 19 year old Charles married 18 year old Elizabeth Margaret Peters, whose father and mother had both migrated from Germany and were neighbors of the Walkers.  Elizabeth's brothers were Charles' closest friends and fellow soldiers.  Ten children were born to the couple, at least one of whom, Chrispianos, fought in the War of 1812 and was featured in a previous post.  (You might want to keep an eye out for future posts describing their other sons' adventures, which included  murder!)

As war broke out, Charles enlisted as a ranger under Captain Peter Hogg, a well-known soldier who had fought in the French and Indian War under General George Washington.   According to "Rangers in Colonial and Revolutionary America” the concept of training men to be rangers originated in the seventeenth century when colonists and Indian tribes continually waged war against each other. They were full-time soldiers employed to "range" between fixed frontier fortifications, doing reconnaissance and providing early warning of hostile raids. They also served as scouts and guides. ( 

His final battle as a ranger occurred at Yorktown.  A lot was at stake! Yorktown had been established on the Chesapeake Bay in 1691 in order to regulate trade and collect taxes. By the early 1700s, it had emerged as a major Virginia port and economic center with 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people. 

The Revolution was in its seventh year when, in 1781, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis brought his army to Yorktown to establish a naval base. During the siege by American and French forces that followed, much of the town was destroyed. In fact, by the end of the war, less than 70 buildings and 661 people remained. 
Excerpts from "This Day in History" describe the situation in 1781 when, by an incredible stroke of luck for the Patriots, the French fleet sailed into the Chesapeake Bay just as Cornwallis was choosing Yorktown, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, as his base.

"Upon getting this report, Washington ordered the  Marquis de Lafayette and an American army of 5,000 troops to block Cornwallis' escape from Yorktown by land, while the French naval fleet blocked the British escape by sea.

By September 28, Washington had completely encircled Cornwallis in Yorktown with his troops  and with the combined forces of Continental and French troops totaling 17,000. After three weeks of non-stop bombardment, both day and night from both cannon and artillery, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in the field at Yorktown on October 17, 1781,  effectively ending the War for Independence. "September 28-This Day in History/Battle of Yorktown Begins", 

As mentioned above, our family's war-hardened rangers, Charles Walker, and his brothers-in-law, who had fought all  those  years against the British, were participants in this final battle of a devastating war.

In 1789, both the Walker and Peters families moved to New River Valley, where they met up with Zachariah Callaway (also a “Family Legend”whose daughter, Sarah, married Charles and Elizabeth's son, Charles Walker, Jr.). 

The plaque, shown above was dedicated in 1976 and, entitled “Revolutionary War Soldiers of Giles County” .  It lists 94 soldiers who served during the War for Independence.. Inscribed on the plaque are the names of Charles Walker and his brother-in-law, John Peters.