The Civil War, Class, & the Dickinsons

Loren Dickinson

Emily Dickinson's cousin Loren Dickinson was the son of her father Edward Dickinson's younger brother, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, Jr. After the failure in business of Samuel Fowler Dickinson Sr., the family broke up in 1833, and Edward's brothers and sisters went their separate ways. Samuel Fowler, Jr., went first to New York and then pursued business endeavors in Savannah, Georgia (another Dickinson sibling, Timothy, likewise moved to the South, but he died in Griffin, Georgia in 1852, before the Civil War began). On October 9, 1834, Samuel F. Dickinson, Jr. married Susan W. McCook (a.k.a. Susan Cook) in Bibb County, Georgia (Marriage BOOK A 1831-1839, Bibb County Records). Their son Loren Dickinson enlisted as a private in the Confederate 2nd Battalion, Georgia Infantry Sharpshooters, Company C, just a few months after Georgia seceded from the Union (Dickinson enlisted on April 20, 1861; Georgia seceded on January 19, 1861). He appears to have had one furlough day for illness on December 15, 1861.

In 1861, more than one million people resided in Georgia. More than 450,000 residents were slaves, and there were 137,000 white males between the ages of 15 and 39 who could be pressed into military service. While Georgia recruited only one regiment of soldiers for the Union, the state contributed over 60 infantry regiments, 12 cavalry regiments, and over 3 dozen regiments, batteries, and battalions of artillery for Confederate service. Georgia was virtually untouched by the war until Sherman's famous March to the Sea in 1864 and the Battle of Atlanta (May 1-September 8). Records show that Dickinson's company fought in this battle, and the editors of the DEA are still combing the muster rolls to determine the degree of his participation.

He married Virginia Fendley (b. 27 October 1849 in Chesterfield, Virginia) in 1864 (or later) in Henrico County, Richmond, Virginia. Since Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox, and part of the terms of the surrender was that "each [Confederate] officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside,"it is reasonable to conjecture that Loren Dickinson deserted the Confederacy and took up with Virginia Fendley. According to a member of the National Park Service: "Lee surrendered 28,231 men, who received paroles. Many hundreds of others just when [SIC went] home in the final days of the campaign. The number of disserters from the CSA Army of Northern Virgina was so great the yankees did not even attempt to stop them from just going home. There were too many to care for or imprison. Thank you." (Lanny Howe, Appomattox, VA USA)

We would be grateful if anyone with information about this aspect of the Dickinson family would contact Martha Nell Smith at


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Transcription and commentary copyright 1999 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on June 21, 2000