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CDV of Gen. R.E. Lee Given by Lee to the Wife of Gen. Wickham

CDV of Gen. R.E. Lee Given by Lee to the Wife of Gen. Wickham – This CDV, a wartime image of R.E. Lee with a Vannerson and Jones (of Richmond) back mark, was found a number of years ago at the Wickham family home, Hickory Hill Plantation, in Hanover County, Virginia. The back of the image is annotated, in pencil and ink, stating: “Gen R E Lee, Gen Robert E Lee, Confederacy, 1864″. This image was found in a period envelope, addressed to “Mrs. Annie Wickham, Care of Genl Wms C. Wickham, near Hanover Courthouse, Virginia”. There is the ghost of a postage stamp and is cancelled Richmond May 23 Va. Ann Wickham, mother of Gen. Williams Carter Wickham, was the cousin of Robert E. Lee; apparently, Lee sent his image to his cousin, via Gen. Wickham – SOLD

Hickory Hill was long an appendage to Shirley Plantation in Charles City County, much of it having come into possession of the Carter family by a deed dated March 2, 1734. The Carters were among the First Families of Virginia. Robert “King” Carter (1663–1732) served as an acting royal governor of Virginia and was one of its wealthiest landowners in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

 

Robert Carter, son of “King Carter”, gave 500 acres of land, known as Hickory Hill, to his daughter, Ann Butler Carter, and her young husband, William Fanning Wickham, in December 1819. William Fanning Wickham, son of the famous defender of Aaron Burr, John Wickham esq., though a Richmond lawyer, soon adopted the bucolic ife of a planter, raising wheat as his cash crop. Wickham and Ann eventually grew Hickory Hill so that it encompassed 3300 acres. Once a modest frame dwelling over an English basement, their house grew with the plantation, eventually becoming a brick, seventy five hundred square foot, Greek Revival mansion. Mrs. Wickham’s  sister, Anne Hill (née Carter) Lee, was the mother of Robert E. Lee. The Lee family visited often, before during and after the Civil War.

 

William and Ann Wickham’s son, Williams Carter Wickham (1820-1888), became a notable lawyer, judge, politician and soldier. Williams Wickham had been a member of Virginia’s secession convention and voted against leaving the Union; ultimately, however, Williams Wickaham felt compelled to join Virginia in service to the Confederacy, and he raised a local cavalry company, the Hanover Dragoons at Hickory Hill, which he captained at the onset of the war. When Virginia called for volunteers, Wickham and his Dragoons rode into Ashland, Virginia and enlisted in the Confederate Army. The Hanover Dragoons became Company G, 4th Virginia Cavalry and Wickham was elected Lieutenant Colonel. After having been severely wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg by a sabre thrust through the body, he returned home to recuperate. Wickham, knew every byroad in that portion of the county, and since he was at home behind the Federal lines, he was familiar with all of the Union military activity in the area, as well. Because of this, Jeb Suart, when beginning his famed ride around McClellan, left his troops at their jump off point and taking along Rooney Lee, who wished to see his bride, rode to Hickory Hill. Rooney visited with Charlotte, while Stuart met with Colonel Wickham. Though Wickham had no formal military training, he was a brilliant man and excelled in the art of war. Having been a hard and dependable fighter through all of Stuart’s campaigns with the Army of Northern Virginia, he quickly rose to the rank of Brigadier General of Cavalry, under Jeb Stuart.

 

In 1861, Rooney Lee, son-in-law of Gen. Wickham, joined the Confederate Army as a cavalry officer under J.E.B. Stuart. Perhaps having the most illustrious career of any of the three Lee sons, Rooney was captured by Union troops at his wife’s family home, Hickory Hill, in June 1863, while he was there nursing a thigh wound sustained at the Battle of Brandy Station. Lee, after being captured, was carted away on a stolen wagon as his wife, two children, mother and sisters stood watching. R.E. Lee wrote to his daughter-in-law after Rooney’s capture: “The consequences of war are horrid enough at best, surrounded by all the amelioration of civilization and Christianity. I am very sorry for the injuries done the family at Hickory Hill and particularly that our dear old Uncle Williams, in his eightieth year, should be subjected to such treatment. But we cannot help it and must endure it” While he was held at Fortress Monroe, Rooney’s children died of scarlet fever and his wife Charlotte wasted away. General Robert E. Lee always expressed the opinion that she died of a broken heart.

 

In 1864, Williams Carter Wickham was elected to the Confederate Congress and was appointed as a member of the Hampton Roads Peace Commission. He served as a lawyer and jurist in Hanover after the war. In November 1865, he was named the president of the war-ravaged, Virginia Central Railroad, which ran westward, from Richmond. Needing capital to expand and update, the Virginia Central merged with the Covington and Ohio Railroad to become the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), with the goal of completing a railroad link to the Ohio River. Williams Wickham is credited with attracting transcontinental railroad builder Collis P. Huntington and fresh financing from New York City, to complete the task by 1873. Wickham remained active with the C&O through a receivership and financial reorganization, and was at his office in Richmond working when he died in 1888.

 

 

 

Williams Carter Wickham was the son of William Fanning Wickham and Anne Butler (née Carter) Wickham. His paternal grandfather was John Wickham, the constitutional lawyer. On his mother’s side, he descended from historic roots, as the Nelson and Carter families were each First Families of Virginia, prominent in the Virginia Colony.

 

Wickham’s great-grandfather, Gen. Thomas Nelson, Jr., was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence and a governor of Virginia during the American Revolutionary War. Other ancestors include Thomas “Scotch Tom” Nelson who was one of the founders of Yorktown in the late 17th century. He was also a descendant of Robert “King” Carter (1663–1732), who served as an acting royal governor of Virginia and was one of its wealthiest landowners in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His mother was a first cousin of Robert E. Lee, whose mother Anne Hill (née Carter) Lee, was born at Shirley Plantation.

 

Wickham was born in Richmond, Virginia, but spent much of his youth on his father’s 3,200-acre plantation, Hickory Hill, which is located about 20 miles north of Richmond in Hanover County. Hickory Hill was long an outlying appendage to Shirley Plantation, much of it having come into possession of the Carter family by a deed dated March 2, 1734.

 

Wickham was graduated from the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1842. He was married to Lucy Penn Taylor and had several children. He became a justice and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1849. In 1858, he was commissioned captain of Virginia volunteer militiacavalry, and in 1861, he was elected by the people of Henrico County to the state convention as a Unionist, where he voted against the articles of secession.

 

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