Edward Featherston Small: Beaufort County Soldier (Andrea)

Edward Small

Photograph of Edward Small from the Edward Featherston Small Papers, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

My mother, Jean Arrington Gabriel, shared memories of her maternal grandmother, Julia Johnson Telfair Small, a woman she described as blind and who smoked a corncob pipe, and her maternal grandfather, Edward Featherston Small, a soldier of the Civil War. A native of Atlanta, mother had faint childhood memories of them both.  The stories she and other family members related weren’t so much of Edward as a soldier, but rather of his later years working in Durham, N.C. and later Atlanta as a cigarette salesman for W. Duke, and Sons Company.

Several years ago, I began to research Edward F. Small in the State Archives.  The first research tool I used was Broadfoot’s Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 (Volume XIV). I located Edward F. Small, NC 2nd Arty. (36th St. Troops) Co. G, Guidon. Not knowing that term, I looked it up discovering a guidon carried the company flag.  My next step was to locate my great-grandfather in North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, Vol.  I. Artillery (N.C. Troops).

Part of the Edward Featherston Small service record

Small enlisted September 23, 1861 at the age of 17. Click for a larger image.

Edward F. Small mustered in as corporal September 23, 1861, 2nd Company G, 36th Regiment.  His recorded age was 17 (though this date would have made him 16). He was discharged at Washington “by reason of ‘hernia—caused by straining in light or flying artillery drill’” January 1, 1862. Small reenlisted 7 months later, August 14, 1862 in Martin County. On November 4, 1863, the battery was transferred to the 13th Battalion N.C. Light Artillery, Company D and stationed in the Cape Fear District.

Copy of Small’s Disability Certificate

Copy of Small’s Disability Certificate. It is stamped “Rebel Archives.” Click for a larger image.

I then looked at the Compiled Service Records, microfilmed at the National Archives available in our Search Room. There I found several copies of muster roll records and a report of Small’s certificate of disability which provided a physical description of the young soldier—“he is 5 feet, 6 inches high, light complexion, grey eyes, black hair, and by occupation when enlisted a student.” The final muster record for him was dated February, 1865. Hoping to find details of a pension, I searched the Application for Confederate Pensions index in the State Archives Search Room with no luck.

Disability Certificate Report for Edward F. Small

Disability Certificate Report for Edward F. Small dated January 1, 1862; he re-enlisted 7 months later. Click to read a transcript.

After the war, Small worked as a traveling photographer from 1868-1883 in the North Carolina cities of High Point, Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Goldsboro, Clinton, and Lexington.  In 1870 he married Julia Johnson Telfair in Johnston County. In 1883 he went to work for Washington and James B. Duke as a cigarette salesman and marketer, finally settling in Atlanta. I believe all his children were North Carolina-born—my mother’s mother, Gertrude Small Arrington, was born in High Point. Edward F. Small died June 7, 1924 while attending a reunion of Confederate soldiers in Memphis, Tennessee. I was able to locate the citation of his death certificate from an online index, Tennessee Death Index, from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Some details from Edward F. Small’s life were found in Photographers in North Carolina: the First Century, 1842-1941 by Stephen E. Massengill. Small’s papers, referencing his years with W. Duke, and Sons Company are held in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.

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