Ring, Image and Letter of Lt. Wm. B. Meredith of the Va. Ashland Light Artillery


Ring, Image and Letter of Lt. William Bernard Meredith of the Va. Ashland Light Artillery – The ring, image and letter, all possessions of Lt. Wm. Bernard Meredith, were obtained by Perry Adams Antiques directly from the lineal descendants of the Cocke and Meredith families. The ring, as denoted in the accompanying period note, was constructed of yellow gold, with finely crafted, decorative, animal figures on either side of the faceting area. The stone appears to be a dark, burgundy colored garnet. The large, hand-tinted image of Mr. Meredith created, apparently very shortly after the war, as an enlargement from an older glass plate, by the famed Richmond photographer, C.R. Rees. The image, with its period denotation of the subject on the back of the photograph, is signed by both Rees and the colorist, who is known to have worked for Rees. The accompanying letter, written by Wm. B. Meredith, when a student at UVa., is the quintessential plea of all college students to their parents – “please send money” . Then note paper is embossed and inked, by Mr. Meredith, with “U Va June 16” and signed by him – “Your devoted son, Bernard”. The envelope is addressed to “Mrs Judge Meredith, Richmond, Viriginia”; it is stamped with a period, early U.S. Postage stamp, with a bust of Washington, and cancelled with the date June 17 and “University”. This is a most poignant grouping – the possessions of a young Richmond citizen, from a prominent family, and who would not live throughout the second year of the war. All items are in very good condition. The ring measures as follows: Diameter – 1 5/8″; the tinted Rees albumen measures: Ht. – 17.25″; Width – 14″

William Bernard Meredith was the son of the Honorable John A. Meredith and his wife Sarah. He entered Richmond College at a young age and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1856 at age seventeen. He earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Virginia in 1859. He then studied law at the direction of his father, a distinguished judge and graduate of the University. Although opposed to war and suited for civilian life, he at once sought a position with the Ashland Artillery in the company of Pichegru Woolfolk. He was made First Lieutenant. He went with his company to Manassas and spent the winter there. They moved to Yorktown in the Spring and fell back toward Richmond with the army. He was made Adjutant of Major Charles Richardson’s battalion of Artillery and remained as that until stricken with typhoid fever. He went home on sick leave in August and did not return. Lt. Meredith is buried in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

Both the Cockes, owners of “Derwent”, the Powhatan County, Virginia home where Robert E. Lee stayed during the summer of 1865, to recuperate after the Civil War ended, and the Merediths (the family of Judge John A. Meredith, prominent Richmond attorney and one of three Richmond leaders who handed the city over to Union General Weitzel in early April of 1865), had townhouses, on Franklin Street, in Richmond, just a couple of blocks west of the state capitol. The Merediths lived at 310 Franklin Street, and were friends of Gen. R.E. Lee and family, who also maintained a war-time townhouse in the same block of Franklin St. The son of Judge Meredith, William Bernard Meredith, a Lieutenant in the Virginia Ashland Light Artillery, was hospitalized on 7/15/1862, in Richmond, VA, with phthisis pulmonaris; he was furloughed on 8/15/1862 and died of typhoid fever, at home, on 8/22/1862, in Richmond. Given the close proximity of the Robertson Hospital, located at 3rd and Main Streets in Richmond and overseen by the famed Capt. Sally Tompkins, to the Meredith home on Franklin Street, it is highly conceivable that Lt. Meredith was initially hospitalized there, then moved to his parents’ home, where he would die shortly thereafter.

Judge John Alexander Meredith (1814-1882) was a lawyer and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1850-51, commonwealth’s attorney from Hanover County, and judge of the Circuit Court of Richmond from 1852-1869. He along with Richmond mayor Joseph Mayo and Judge William Henry Lyons surrendered the city to Union forces on April 3, 1865. Judge Meredith was also counsel for mayor-elect Henry K. Ellyson in the Richmond Mayoralty Case of 1870 and witnessed the “Capitol Disaster,” the collapse of the galleries in the capitol.



 Military Service of William Bernard Meredith

Residence was not listed;Enlisted on 8/16/1861 at Ashland, VA as a 1st Lieutenant.On 8/16/1861 he mustered into VA Ashland Light Artillery He died of disease on 8/22/1862 at Richmond, VA; (Paid $80 per month as 2nd Lieut.  Died of typhoid fever at home) He was listed as: Hospitalized 7/15/1862 Richmond, VA (With phthisis pulmonaris); Furloughed 8/15/1862 (place not stated)

Promotions: 1st Lieut & Adj 3/15/1862 (As of Maj Charles Richardson’s Battn)

(BA from Richmond College in 1856. MD at Univ of VA. Unmaried,  Father Judge John A. Meredith.)


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