Confederate entrenchments on Orange Plank Road. Library of Congress photo (LC-DIG-ppmsca-32872)

Confederate entrenchments on Orange Plank Road. Library of Congress photo (LC-DIG-ppmsca-32872)

By early April 1864 in Virginia, the snow had melted and the fields and roads had begun to dry.

Back home in Mississippi, these changes would have signaled the Poore brothers and their fellow farmer-soldiers to get the fields ready for planting. But in Virginia they knew that armies would soon be on the move. It was time to get ready for war.

Rebel sharpshooters practiced on targets at ranges of 200 to 300 yards and infantrymen drilled. The day for combat would not be long in coming.

Francis and John Poore arrived back in northern Virginia between April 10 and 13. Eight months before, the two older Poore brothers and the other troops had gone to aid the Army of Tennessee.

They returned aboard the rail cars that carried General James Longstreet’s 1st Corps from Bristol to Charlottesville. From Charlottesville, Francis, John and their fellow infantrymen walked along the rail line while next to them heavily loaded trains labored down the tracks. They had to walk so the trains could quickly bring up supplies for a coming battle without having to wait on troop trains.

When Francis, John and the other troops reached a point about six miles below Gordonsville, they camped. Brigadier General Joseph B. Kershaw now led their division, replacing Major General Lafayette McLaws.

Meanwhile, William B. Poore and his comrades in Major General Richard H. Anderson’s Division of Lieutenant General Ambrose P. Hill’s 3rd Corps camped near Liberty Mills.

All three Poore brothers now served in the same theater of the war for the first time. Curiously, William apparently never tried to join his two older brothers by transferring to the 13th Mississippi or trading places with another soldier in the Newton Rifles.

Such transfers were common, as shown by John’s move from the 7th Texas into the 13th Mississippi. It was not unusual to find several brothers or other relatives in a company. Companies reflected the communities where they were recruited, creating a tight-knit military brotherhood.

We don’t know William’s reasons for not joining his brothers. But it is reasonable to assume that he had some strong friendship or even kinship with one or more of his comrades in the 16th Mississippi. Perhaps he and some buddies enlisted together and wanted to stay together. Perhaps the Poore brothers felt there was a better chance of one of them surviving the war if they weren’t all three together.

Or perhaps William just didn’t want his two older brothers always looking over his shoulder. Whatever his reasons, William stayed in the 16th Mississippi.

Did you have more than one ancestor who served in the Civil War? Did they serve in the same unit? Did they serve in the same theater of the war?

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