“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Oceana in Wyoming County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

Civil War Romance

Thompson and Martilia Walker

Civil War Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 15, 2019
1. Civil War Romance Marker
Inscription.  This is the site of a romance between Thompson L. Walker, a Confederate soldier, and Martilia Walker, the daughter of a staunch Unionist. Pvt. Thompson Walker enlisted in Company B, 23rd Virginia Infantry Battalion, on July 12, 1862, and fought in several engagements in the Greenbrier Valley and in the Battle of Droop Mountain. In the summer of 1863, while with his unit in the Shenandoah Valley, Walker was captured and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland. Overcrowding, poor sanitation, food shortages, and bad drinking water made conditions horrendous.

On May 15, 1865, Walker signed the oath of allegiance to the United States and was soon paroled. Ill and weary, he began the long journey home to Mercer County in the new state of West Virginia, trekking through rugged terrain and being threatened by Unionists seeking revenge on former Confederates.

By mid-June, Walker reached the ridge just across the road from here, and Martilia Walker (no relation), the youngest daughter of Unionist William Walker, found him hungry and exhausted. Sympathizing with his plight, she concealed Walker near her home,
Civil War Romance and William Walker Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, July 15, 2019
2. Civil War Romance and William Walker Marker
which stood at the bottom of the ridge. On the pretext of feeding the family cattle, she covertly brought him food, medicine, and blankets, and nursed him back to health.

Walker remained in the area, and the couple fell in love and married on December 11, 1866. They had sixteen children. They built a house half a mile south of here on Bear Branch, and Walker never reached his former home in Mercer County.

William Walker was an attorney and fervent Unionist who served as a captain in the U.S. Army. He served as Wyoming County’s only delegate to the Wheeling constitutional convention, November 26, 1861–February 18, 1862, and favored the name of West Virginia for the new state. He was an advocate of free public education. He is buried in Oceana. According to local tradition, this area was so divided in its loyalties during the war that for years thereafter, fistfights erupted between proponents of each side.
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 37° 40.594′ N, 81° 36.931′ W. Marker is near Oceana
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, West Virginia, in Wyoming County. Marker is on Route 10 1.4 miles from Route 85, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oceana WV 24870, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. William Walker (here, next to this marker); Capt. Ralph Stewart (approx. 0.9 miles away); John Cooke (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named John Cooke (approx. 1˝ miles away); Prehistoric Petroglyphs (approx. 2.6 miles away); Pineville (approx. 7.7 miles away); Itmann (approx. 12.9 miles away).
More about this marker. This interpretive panel contains four illustrations. Clockwise from the top: A photograph of “Thompson and Martilia Walker, circa 1900;” a document “Thompson Walker release;” a portrait of William Walker; and a photograph of the Thompson Walker house.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 27, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 27, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 129 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 27, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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Feb. 25, 2021