Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - James Adams

James Madison Adams

Representing: Confederate

Unit History

  • 38th Virginia Infantry CSA K

See full unit history

James Adams
Full Unit History

Organized: June, 1861 Pittsylvania County, VA
Mustered In: 6/12/1861 Pittsylvania County, VA
Surrendered/Mustered Out: 4/9/1865 Appomattox Court House, VA

Organized: 1/21 - 4/22/1864 Point Lookout, MD
Mustered In: Inf. Not Avail.
Mustered Out: 11/27/1865 St. Louis, MO & 5/22/1866 Ft. Leavenworth, KS

Regimental History


The 38th was an infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service with the Confederate States Army (CSA) during the American Civil War (ACW). Its members were recruited primarily from Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties. It served in both the eastern and western theaters of combat.

Initially assigned to service in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, during the spring of 1862 the 38th joined the Army of Northern Virginia. With that body it participated in the campaigns from Williamsburg, VA (5/5/1862) to Gettysburg, PA (7/1 - 3/1863). At the latter place more than fifty-five per cent of the four hundred (400) engaged were killed, disabled or captured.  It was then transferred to North Carolina.

In 1864, attached to the Department of Richmond, the 38th fought at Cold Harbor, VA (5/31 - 6/12/1864) and in the trenches around Petersburg. It ended the war at Appomattox Court House, VA (4/9/1865) surrendering only twelve officers and eighty two enlisted men.         

Loss Numbers Not Available.


The 1st United States Volunteer Infantry (U.S.V.I) was a three year regiment composed of "Galvanized Yankees." The" galvanized" soldiers were Confederate prisoners-of-war who signed an oath of allegiance to the United States in order to get out of prison. They would then join the U.S. Army, not to fight fellow Johnny Rebs, but Native American hostiles on, what was then, America’s western frontier.

Initial service for the 1st was provost (military police) duty in in Norfolk, VA, Portsmouth, VA and Elizabeth City, NC. From there, it moved to Chicago, IL. From that place six companies ("B", "C", "D", "E", "H" and "K") travelled  by steamboat and forced march to Ft. Rice Dakota Territory (DT). Arriving there on 10/7/1864, four companies were assigned to garrison duty.  Between 5/10 and 8/31/1865 Co. "K" garrisoned Ft. Berthold while   Co. "B" was sent to a trading post known as Ft. Union which was located at the mouth of the Yellowstone River.

On 7/28/1865 four companies of the 1st, along with four companies of the 4th U.S.V.I., were present at Ft. Rice, DT when a large force of Lakota and Cheyenne led by Sitting Bull attacked, making away with the entire horse herd and killing two soldiers. On 11/27/1865 that portion of the 1st was mustered out at St. Louis, MO.

Dropping back a bit, the four companies of the 1st that did not move to the DT were stationed in Minnesota. In 7/1865 their muster out was cancelled and they were sent to Kansas to build and garrison Ft. Fletcher as well as man outposts at Monument Station and Ponds Creek Station. This was done in order to protect the new Butterfield Overland Dispatch stagecoach route. Those companies ("A", "F", "G" and "I") were mustered out on 5/22/1866. Their twenty five (25) months of active service was the longest of any of the "Galvanized Yankees."  

Loss Numbers Not Available

Soldier History

SOLDIER: (38th)
Residence: Pittsylvania County, VA   Age: ca. 17 yrs. (est.)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 3/1/1862 Cascade, VA   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 3/1/1862 Pittsylvania County, VA
Captured: 7/3/1863 Gettysburg, PA
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Capture: Pvt.

SOLDIER: (1st)
Residence: Pittsylvania County, VA   Age: ca. 19 yrs. (est.)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 1/24/1864 Point Lookout, MD   Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 1/24/1864 Point Lookout, MD
Deserted: Inf. Not Avail.
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Desertion: Pvt.

Family History



 James Madison Adams was born during the Year Of Our Lord, 1845. No specific month or birth date have been located in available documents. The place of his birth was within the state of Virginia.

Parenting James were John A. Adams (b. 1817 VA - d. unk.) and Sarah (nee Roark b. 1827 VA - d. 1874 VA) Adams. The Adams family were farmers.

Based on available U.S. Census documentation, James M. was second of five children born to and Sarah. Older than he was Lucy Virginia Adams (b. ca. 1843 VA). Younger than he were John Allen Adams (b.1846 VA), Madison Keith Allen (b. unk.) and Johnson Arms Adams (b. 1849 VA).

As far as we know James remained on his parents' farm until early 1862 when he enlisted, supposedly for one year, in the Confederate States Army. His unit was the 38th Virginia Infantry.

Once in the service of the CSA, Private Adams' term of enlistment proved to be a roller coaster ride. As early as 5/28/1862 he landed in the hospital at Danville, VA suffering from rubella measles.  He was also hospitalized for a significant period of time in Richmond and Lynchburg, VA. That hospitalization appears to have been for recurring dyspepsia (upset stomach). 

On 7/3/1863 at Gettysburg, VA Private Adams was captured by Federal forces. It is surmised the capture occurred as a result of what has come to be known as "Pickett's Charge." 

Initially confined (7/5/1863) at Ft. McHenry, MD, on 7/7/1863 Pvt. Adams was transferred to Ft. Delaware, DE. From there he was moved (10/26/1863) to Point Lookout, MD. 

On 1/24/1864 while at Point Lookout Private Adams swore an oath of allegiance to the United States of America. This allowed him to enlist in the U.S. Army, his service in blue being with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Infantry. As a "Galvanized Yankee" Private Adams was to serve on the country's western frontier dealing with hostile Indians. Details of this second period of service are not known.* 

Military service behind him, it appears James returned to Pittsylvania County, VA. There, in 1867, he married. 

James' bride was Emma M. Williams. Emma had been born in Virginia during 1849. How, when and where the two had med are unknowns. But, perhaps, they had known one another since childhood. 

During their years together James and Emma produced nine children - are identified in in available documents. They were: Luther Adams (b. 7/28/1869/VA d. 4/9/1892/MO ), Matthew Eugene Adams (b. 1/18/1871/VA d. 8/15/1943/Franklin Co. WA), James Carey Adams (b. 10/13/1872/VA d. 1/23/1928 Spokane Co. WA), John Oscar Adams (b. 1/6/1874/VA d. 8/12/1955 Spokane Co. WA), Wayne Womack Adams (b. 7/26/1877/VA d. 10/12/1951 Jefferson Co. AL), Jefferson Dexter Bell Adams (b. 7/26/1881/VA d. 9/29/1967 Ionia Co. MN) and David Cameron Adams (b. 10/13/1881 d. 11/23/1975 Spokane Co. WA) & Thomas Johnson (9/10/1884 Barry Co. MO d. 10/12/1951 Jefferson Co. AL). It is believed all were birthed in Virginia. ** 

In 1880, the Adams family was residing and farming in or near the community of Bannister, Pittsylvania County, VA. However, at the dawning of the twentieth century (1900) they were in Ritzville Adams County, WA. Apparently railroad work had drawn James from the eastern U.S. to the far western corner of the Pacific Northwest, ca. 1898. 

Emma Williams Adams died at home in Ritzville on 3/21/1903. Cause of the fifty two / fifty three year old's passing was consumption (tuberculosis). She was/is buried in the Ritzville Memorial Cemetery. The local Adams County Newspaper dated 3/25/1903 noted this: 

"Mrs. James M. Adams, wife of the auctioneer, passed away Monday evening at the residence on Third Street, a victim of consumption. The estimable lady had been very low for several months and the end was not unlooked for. A sorrowing husband and six stalwart sons are left to mourn the loss of "mother." All that the science of physicians could give was procured for the relief of her who is the leading figure and binding spirit of the home. The body was lovingly laid under the turf on the little hillside in Spanjer cemetery with impressive ceremonies amid a large gathering.” 

On 7/31/1909 James remarried. Interestingly, the ceremony took place in Ashtabula, OH. Why there? Available documentation does not provide an answer to that question! 

The second Mrs. James Adams was the previously wed Sarah Elizabeth Lovill (no nee b. 3/11/1840 Surry County, NC). Many questions surround she and James' relationship.  

Where the couple settled after marrying is not known. Further, how long James and Sarah remained together is unknown. The 1920 U.S. Census denoted James selling farm supplies and residing in Bremerton Kitsap County, WA. There is no mention of Sarah.  

To add more confusion, Sarah Lovill Adams died on 4/6/1921 in St Louis St. Louis County, MO. However, she was/is buried in the Forest Home Cemetery located in Forest Park Cook County, IL. 

Near the end of his life - perhaps while residing with son James in Spokane, Spokane County, WA - James developed mental problems. He died on 9/23/1923 in Washington State's Eastern State Hospital located in Cheney Spokane County, WA. His death certificate noted the cause of his passing as "Exhaustion during course of manic depressive psychosis. At death, James was noted as being seventy eight (78) years of age. 

James was/is buried with Emma in the Ritzville Memorial Cemetery. The local Journal-Times newspaper of 7/26/1923 covered the event - in part - as follows: 


 "J. M. Adams, father of J. Oscar Adams of Spokane, died last Thursday at Medical Lake (Spokane County, WA). The remains were brought to Ritzville Saturday afternoon, the auto hearse bringing the body and interment took place in the Ritzville cemetery. Mr. Adams was a long-time resident of this city. He was keenly interested in politics and a staunch democrat." 

Spokane’s Spokesman-Review covered the passing this way: 

"Clad in the fully glory of his old gray confederate uniform, James H. Adams, age 78, Ritzville pioneer, will be buried in Ritzville today. Services will be held this morning at 9 o'clock from the New England undertaking establishment in Spokane. 

For more than half a century, in fact since he took off the insignia the south's futile cause and laid it away at the close of the Civil War, Mr. Adams had saved his uniform for his shroud. 

He loved the south with an intense passion and was proud that he had fought in its cause. 

During his life he often took out the uniform and looked at it, speaking of the time when he could put it on again for the great campaign. 

Mr. Adams was born in Pennsylvania (sic) County, Virginia, 78 years ago. He served in the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War. Twenty-five years ago he moved to Ritzville were he served as general land agent for the Northern Pacific (Railroad). He was a charter member of the Ritzville Baptist church. 

He is the father of eight (nine) sons, seven of whom survive him. They are E. M. Adams, Connell, Wash; the Rev. J.C. Adams, Spokane; J. Oscar Adams, Spokane; the Rev. J.D.B. Adams, Louisville Kentucky; W. W. Adams missionary, Shantung, China; D.C. Adams, Denton, Mont.; (and) T.J. Adams, Deep Creek."
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________* On 4/8/1864 Private Adams' name appeared on a Confederate admittance for the “Receiving and Wayside Hospital or General Hospital No. 9, Richmond, Virginia “The hospital stay appears to have been six (6) days for an unspecified ailment.

The information above is significant because, in 4/1864 Private Adams was, supposedly, in the 1st U.S.V.I. However, according to Wikipedia, "desertion rates among the units of Galvanized Yankees were little different from those of state volunteer units in Federal service."  In later years, based on his expressions of support the Confederacy, it is surmised that Adams took the oath of allegiance to the U.S. and joined the 1st U.S. V. I. in order to extricate himself from prison. Once free, he deserted the 1st and headed back to the south and, likely, service with his old unit, the 38th VA. Only acquisition of appropriate military service files will clarify this likely scenario.

**Luther and Dexter were deceased by the time of their mother’s death in 1903. All others were mentioned in her last will and testament.

POSTED: 5/4/23


Buried at Ritzville Memorial Cemetery

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