News and Reviews
Read what people are saying about Civil War Soldiers From Brunswick County, Virginia. 

Years in the making, book now published  

Book on Civil War Soldiers is Donated

Personal Look at Civil War Soldiers  

Publishing a Manuscript ‘Left Behind’

Book Reviews  

Book Reviews


Brunswick Times-Gazette
Years in the making, book now published.
History of county Civil War soldiers begun in 1972
(13 Sep 2000)
By Amy Floyd

LAWRENCEVILLE - This is the book that Brunswick County has been waiting 20 years for,” said Tracy Clary, commander of the Old Brunswick Camp 512, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia,” is dedicated to the memory of Dr. William M. Pritchett and was donated to the Brunswick County Public Library by the Old Brunswick Camp.

“Genealogy has mushroomed over the last five years and because of Pritchett’s detailed research, this book will be a valuable tool for genealogists,” said Linda Bagley, library manager.

Pritchett was a prominent genealogist and Civil War historian who grew near Danieltown before moving to Texas. Despite the distance, Pritchett never lost interest in Brunswick’s history. He diligently researched the Civil War soldiers of Brunswick County. Starting in 1972, his research articles on approximately 1,140 Brunswick County soldiers and other individuals who contributed to the Civil War effort were published in two Brunswick County newspapers. A weekly column was first started in the Advertiser and soon followed in the Brunswick Times-Gazette.

“I can remember when I was growing up how my parents and grandparents couldn’t wait for the paper to come out so that they could read Pritchett’s column,” said Clary. The articles mentioned the battles, losses and deaths involving Brunswick County Confederate soldiers, giving details about each.

The articles continued to run for a period of seven years and after their publication, Pritchett received a tremendous amount of additional information that he used to update the stories.

“The articles were given to the county and were originally placed in the basement of the old courthouse,” said Bagley. “Later they were moved to the library at the request of Pritchett’s wife.”

Four filing cabinets full of Pritchett’s research articles and notes are housed at the library.

People come in here from all over the United States to research their genealogy because our courthouse was one of the few that was not burned during the Civil War. A couple from Washington were in here last week going through the family section of Pritchett’s work.”

“I can’t tell you what a jewel this book has been for our group,” stated Clary.

“I’ve been puddling around in Pritchett’s work for about three or four years and have used it to trace my family history.”

Bagley stated that because Pritchett’s research was documented as to where the information could be found in the public records, it makes an excellent tool for genealogists.

“He listed a three to four generation genealogy on each of the soldiers along with the reference where the information was found. Pritchett gave the source and page number where the information can be found in the records at the state capital.”

Although he compiled the stories into a 2,300 page book, it remained unpublished at his death in the mid-80s.

“His passion in life was his research and he wanted to share it,” said Bagley. “He spent his vacations here researching and talking with people to find out the information.”

Because part of his  information came from family members of the Confederate veterans, some errors did occur in the articles. “People would write him with corrections and his son John used that correspondence to update the book. There must be at least 60 years of research in this book,” stated Bagley.

After Pritchett’s death, his book rights were given to the Brunswick County Historic Society. However, the society did not have the means at that time to cover a large project such as publishing the book.

Pritchett’s son, John W. Pritchett, a Colonial Virginia genealogist, published the book and will be at the library October 16-17 for a book signing. The book was printed by Gateway Press, of Baltimore Md., an affiliate of Genealogical Publishing Company.

Printed on 8 1/2” by 11” paper, the volume is Smyth-sewn and has a Roxite cloth hard cover with title on both spine and front cover. It is 731 pages long and full-name indexed. An Index of community, church and family cemeteries is also included.

The book includes not only a topic about each of the 1,140 soldiers, but also the history of several Confederate Army units in which Brunswick County natives served. Some of the units presented in the book include Allen’s Artillery, Brunswick Grays, Brunswick Blues, Brunswick Guards, Coleman’s Artillery, Ebenezer Grays, Company C, 44th Virginia Infantry Reserves and the 12th Infantry Regiment.

The book also features a group photograph of many of the surviving Brunswick County Confederate veterans taken in 1908 at the reunion of Confederate veterans. More than 30 of the veterans in the photo are identified.


The South Hill Enterprise
Book on Civil War Soldiers is Donated
(13 Sep 2000)
By Sylvia M. Allen

LAWRENCEVILLE - The book many people have been waiting for is now available for sale. The book entitled “Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia” written by Dr. William M. Pritchett has been published by his son, John W. Pritchett, a Colonial Virginia Genealogist.

Tracy Clary, commander of the Old Brunswick Camp #512 Sons of Confederate Veterans said a copy of the book is now available at the Brunswick Public Library for reference and copies of the book are also on sale. The book was donated by the local group in memory of Dr. Pritchett whose years of dedicated research bestowed the highest possible honor upon a brave group of men.

Dr. Pritchett was a prominent genealogist and Civil War historian who grew up near Danieltown, said Clary. For seven years beginning in 1972 a local newspaper published Dr. Pritchett’s articles on approximately 1,140 soldiers and other individuals who contributed to the Civil War effort. Following the publication of the articles, Dr. Pritchett received a tremendous amount of additional information that he used to update the stories. He compiled the stories into a 2,300-page book but it remained unpublished at his death in the mid-80s.

Clary explained the interesting story surrounding the book’s publication. “Dr. Pritchett worked tirelessly on compiling the information for the book. He lived in Texas but devoted his vacation to working on the research for the book. The book is a wealth of information for people tracing their family history. It gives the soldier’s name, the name of his parents, and the names of his children. In some cases the book lists the names of the next generation. Index cards are cross referenced with information on microfilm,” said Clary.

Linda Bagley, branch manager of Brunswick Public Library, said the library receives continuous inquiries from people about their ancestry. Beginning in September and continuing into October visitors to the area are a common occurrence. The Internet has also provided another valuable source for those interested in genealogy. She explained why many people who are researching the Civil War find their way to Brunswick County.

“Our clerk’s office was one of the few that was not burned during the Civil War so our records are a valuable source of information. The story goes that a Masonic symbol was placed in our courthouse and the soldiers in the Union Army did not want to burn a building with a Masonic symbol. Other courthouses in surrounding areas were burned and records were lost forever. Dr. Pritchett was meticulous in his research and often gave marriage information about the soldier. If someone is interested they can find the marriage license on file at the clerk’s office. People hope by chance their relatives passed through here because they know they might be able to find records of them,” said Bagley.

Bagley said Dr. Pritchett’s family feels the information collected by Dr. Pritchett should be shared with the public and they are very pleased the book will be available at the library for the public to use. Researchers are free to copy Dr. Pritchett’s articles for future reference. The only restriction the family placed on the sharing of the information is no one can copy the entire collection of articles for their private use.

Gateway Press of Baltimore, Md., an affiliate of Genealogical Publishing Company, published the book. The book is printed on 50-pound paper. The cover is Smyth-sewn and has a Roxite cloth hard cover. The book contains 731 pages indexed by the soldier’s full-name. An index of community, church, and family cemeteries is also included. The book includes a history of several Confederate Army units in which Brunswick County men served and include Allen’s Artillery, Brunswick Grays, Brunswick Blues, Brunswick Guards, Coleman’s Artillery, Ebenezer Grays, Company C, 44th Virginia Infantry Reserves and the 12th Infantry Regiment. A photo of Brunswick County Confederate veterans taken at a reunion in 1908 is also included.


The Dallas Morning News
Personal Look at Civil War Soldiers
(23 Sep 2000)
By Lloyd Bockstruck  

The late Dr. William M. Pritchett of Dallas made a lifetime study of the Civil War in his native Brunswick County, Virginia. He wrote articles for his hometown newspaper, and in the course of seven years penned sketches of more than 1,100 soldiers. With the publication of these articles came more data, so his manuscript eventually ran to 2,300 pages. His focus on the impact of the war on the inhabitants of one Virginia county allowed him to become acquainted with the participants and the resources for  biographical and historical research. In 1850 Brunswick County had a white population of 4,900. Dr. Pritchett identified more than 3,150 of them in his study.

By immersing himself in the records, Dr. Pritchett was able to identify Brunswick County soldiers even when they were assigned to units raised elsewhere. One of his most interesting observations involved the 19th-century practice  in the South of the people switching their first and middle name. He noted that his own great-grandfather was known as Luther N. Manly before and during the war. Afterward, however, he consistently went by Napoleon L. Manly.

Since family historians are always working back in time, they may have difficulty in locating an ancestor’s military service record because they are unaware of this pattern in the change of names. Dr. Pritchett observed that many former Confederates may have done this to avoid being discriminated against by the federal government. He was right. Vengeance rather than forgiveness was far too prevalent.

Three out of every ten soldiers from the county perished during the war. For those who survived, life expectancy was 67 years. The youngest was only 11 when the war began. The last veteran from the county to “strike the tent” was James Percival Rawlings in 1937.

The biographies of the soldiers are in alphabetical order. Each sketch includes the veteran’s military records, parentage, spouse(s), children, sons and daughters-in-law, siblings, church affiliation, place of burial, occupation and political service. A complete every-name index concludes the 730 page tome.

Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia, is a model for a biographical and genealogical study and presents a wealth of data for others to use. It is highly recommended.


Everton’s Genealogical Helper
Publishing a Manuscript ‘Left Behind’
(Nov-Dec 2000)
By Ann Hege Hughes

Genealogical researchers have all heard tales of decades of research discarded when the researcher dies. We all mourn these tragic losses. But have you ever stopped to consider exactly what would be involved for someone else to take that material, tie up the loose ends and prepare it for publication? As the person who deals with potential authors at gateway Press, it has been my rare privilege to witness this process several times.

When John W. Pritchett’s father died in 1989, he left behind a neatly typed, double-spaced manuscript 2,300 pages in length. It represented over two decades on research he’d done on approximately 1,140 Civil War veterans from Brunswick County, Virginia. Using Army service records, federal census records, commonwealth vital records, wills, family Bibles and information from county cemeteries, Dr. Pritchett had used index cards to compile stories on more than 1,100 individual soldiers and had started publishing them, weekly, in The Advertiser and its successor the Brunswick Times-Gazette in 1972.

He’d published the material for seven years, constantly incorporating onto his master index cards all the new information that came to light after publication. Finally, he arranged all his updated information into a book he called Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia. But the cost of publishing was more than he could afford so he put the manuscript in his attic. It was there when he died.

Many recognized the value of the manuscript Dr. Pritchett had left behind, but re-keying it proved to be too daunting for one volunteer. Eventually it was turned over to John W. Pritchett, Dr. Pritchett’s eldest son, himself a Virginia genealogist and former computer programmer. Happily, John deeply understood the value of the material. He also knew a thing or two about computers and how to harness technology to help him with the enormous task he faced!

His first step was to confirm legal rights to the articles his father had published. John asked his attorney to draw up a legal document that would transfer all rights to him. When he had this permission in hand, he started working on the manuscript.

John first scanned the entire manuscript to a series of TIFF (photo image) files and stored them on 35 Zip disks in a fireproof vault. Next, using Caera OmniPage Pro OCR (optical character recognition) software, he converted all 2,300 TIFF files to a WordPerfect document. Then, he trained the OCR program to recognize Brunswick County surnames and genealogical jargon and not skip his father’s inserted text.

Next he edited every entry. To help him with his task, John created macros (a series of high-level commands to automate a repetitive task) to check the names of military units, conform dates to genealogical format and standardize the layout. For instance, his father had said John Smith was born in 1831 and died in 1864. John’s macro turned that into a crisp, John Smith (1831-1864) without having to retype the data.

About this time, John and I met in May of 1999 at a National Genealogical Society convention in Richmond, Virginia, and discussed publishing the book. Soon he was consulting me about how to lay out the text. We decided on the 8 x 11 book size with a compact double-column format to greatly reduce page count of the original manuscript.

Now came the task of cross-referencing and checking for consistency. John found that his father, working by hand, had entered the same (or similar) information about some families in two places. In order to eliminate duplication and to make the text as correct and consistent as possible, John checked the text, surname by surname. He would start with the first surname – say, Abernathy – and have the computer search the entire rest of the document for Abernathy information, pulling it out of those spots and transferring it to the main Abernathy listing. Then he would put each revised listing into a master file. Next he’d go to the second surname – say, Bailey – search for Bailey in the balance of the first file and then look for Bailey in his revised file as well. Working back and forth like this, he was able to create a revised file that consolidated each family’s information in one main place, with cross references to guide the reader elsewhere if necessary.

Finally, he cross-referenced the revised file against both the Virginia Regimental History Series and the 1850 Census of Virginia. John actually put the 1850 Census of Brunswick County, Virginia, on an Excel spreadsheet and cross-checked all the information in the book. That’s how he found out that an amazing 70% of the entire population of Brunswick County shown in the 1850 census was in his father’s book!

Once the text was completed, it was time to make the index. John placed an index mark in front of each name to be indexed and created a macro to automatically rearrange the name, surname first, for his index. But, unfortunately, his book (at over 30,000 names) had more names than his WordPerfect program would index. Undaunted, John saved the master file of his index-coded text on a Zip drive. Then he made a copy of the master file and, scrupulously checking that no page breaks changed, remove the indexing marks from in front of all names N through Z. He then used WordPerfect to index the book. Since it had only half the names, it worked just fine. Now, John made another copy of the coded master and, this time, deleted the indexing codes for names A through M. This resulted in an index for the remaining names, which he pasted onto the end of the A-M index.

At last, the book was ready to publish! The finished book, now a meaty 744 pages, is for sale at the Brunswick County Library in Lawrenceville, Virginia.


The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter
Book Review
(April 2001)

As indicated by John W. Pritchett who edited Civil Wars Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia, his late father, William M. Pritchett, contributed articles for nearly a decade to the Brunswick Times-Gazette on soldiers and other individuals from Brunswick County who contributed to the Civil War effort. Subsequently, the articles, augmented by a great deal of additional information, were compiled into a 2,300 page book. That book was recently edited and published by Gateway Press.

Organizationally, the entries on those who served from Brunswick County are arranged alphabetically. While these entries represent the vast majority of the volume, they are preceded by an extremely informative overview of the Confederate military units in which Brunswick County men served. If you have a research interest in the families who lived in the nineteenth century or just a general interest in the Civil War era, you will want to consult this volume.


The National Genealogical Society Quarterly
Book Review
(June 2002)
By Eric G. Grundset, M.L.S.

What parent who has worked for many years on a genealogical project would not be thrilled to have a child pick up the interest and carry it on to a new level? The editor of this volume. as son of the late author, has done just that — drawing from the newspaper columns and supporting material his father gathered and wrote on Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia. The result is an encyclopedic study of nineteenth-century Southside residents and will surely stand as the definitive work on the subject.

Editor Pritchett has condensed his father’s writings, while retaining the rather folksy style of the original newspaper columns — a style reflecting the oral history Dr. Pritchett collected as the basis for his investigations. Many family accounts that  would otherwise have been lost appeared in the columns as a result of interviews the elder Pritchett apparently conducted with descendants of the area’s Confederate soldiers.

Each biographical entry weaves information from censuses, military records, and other sources into a brief narrative of the life of a Brunswick County Confederate. Many family relationships lie in adjoining or cross-referenced sketches. Parents and often other relatives of the soldiers appear in most entries, and some ancestral information as well. Descendants of some men, spanning several generations into the twentieth century, are an important feature. Unfortunately, little detail and few dates accompany the names of many of these descendants, a result of the vagaries of Pritchett’s informants.

These accounts also reveal many connections beyond Brunswick’s boundaries. Tantalizing references  to family members who migrated from the area carry the flavor of such statements as “moved away and had three children in Florida.” As with most information genealogists receive from family members, one wishes for “more meat on the bone.” but, odds are, this was all the informants knew, and — although detail may be lacking — modern researchers are fortunate to have his much.

Naturally the author’s original manner of collecting and presenting information means vague or implied references rather than specific source citations. For Editor Pritchett to reconstruct sources years after his father’s interviews would like have been impossible, and the footnotes which such citations would have generated for a book of this length would have been staggering in quantity.

Still, the editor’s few bibliographic citations leave much wanting. For example, p.441, n.374, introduces information with the statement, “According to 3rd Virginia Cavalry (Nanzig, 1989) ...” Persons familiar with the Virginia Regimental History Series published by R.E. Howard of Lynchburg, Virginia, would immediately understand the referral, but others would not. The lack of bibliography compounds the problem of identifying the few sources the editor does cite.

The format of this mountain of mostly unsourced information is user friendly. The editor provides indexes to church, community, and family cemeteries, as well as another on for all the publication. Readers are left to their own research skills to determine what actual census provided family data, where a marriage record might appear, or where to locate the death record of a veteran.

Whether its clues are obvious or not, the volume is essential for research on Brunswick County and Southside Virginia families.

Civil War Soldiers from Brunswick County, Virginia
Copyright © 2001-2007, John W. Pritchett. All rights reserved.