Walter J. Roark, C. S. A.
Fell at Battle of Gettysburg, PA, 1 Jul 1863

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The reformatting of the name font and census data for this page has NOT been completed. --John M. Gwin, Aug 2011

Source A:  I spoke with my friend and Gettysburg enthusiast Marrty Dormish about Walter Roark,
son of Mary Gwin and Drury Hampton Roark,
grandson to John and Jane Gwin,
nephew to Will and Roe Gwin,
first cousin to William Sutton Gwin, and
first cousin thrice removed to me, John M. Gwin.
I told Marrty that Walter had been killed at Gettysburg on 1 July 1863, the first day of the battle.  Marrty looked up his unit for me in the book Gettysburg by Stephen Sears and found that Walter was in the following unit:
2nd Corps, Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell;
Rodes Division, Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes;
O'Neal's Brigade, Col. Edward A. O'Neal;
5th Alabama Regiment, Col. J. M. Hall;
Company F, "Cahaba Rifles", Capt. Christopher Claudius Pegues
He told me Walter probably would have fallen east of Oak Hill.
Source B:  Anna M. Gayle Fry, in her Memories of Old Cahaba, lists Walter in the Roster of the "Cahaba Rifles", p. 119, as follows:
No. 135. [Pvt.] Roark, Walter.  Enlisted April 10, 1861, at Cahaba, by Capt. C. C. Pegues, for one year; killed in battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1, 1863.

Walter's Partial Genealogical Line

23.04--John Gwin m. Jane Walker, both of Sevier Co., TN

24.02--Mary Gwin--b. 1817 in Dallas Co., AL (she is 33 in the 1850 census); d. unk., but prob. before 1860, since her daughter Anna Turner is living with her uncle and aunt then--(i.e., William and Louisa Gwin McKnight--see 4.9 below); m1. 27 Dec. 1838 (DCAMR, 1818-1918* also says 27 Dec 1838) in Dallas Co. (prob. Cahaba) to Drury Hampton Roark (b. 1812 in SC; d. 1846 in Dallas Co., AL; s/o Jesse Vaughn Roark and Nancy Ann Morris); one child:
25.01--Walter J. Roark; b. ca. 1842, Dallas Co., AL; age eight in the 1850 census and living with Abel and Mary (Roark, nee Gwin) Turner; but listed as age 15 in the 1860 Cahaba census and living with John and Jane in the Grice home then; enlisted in CSA 10 Apr 1861 at Cahaba, AL; was killed at the battle of Gettysburg 1 Jul 1863 at age 20 or 21;
Mary Gwin m2. on 17 May 1849 in a double ceremony with sister Louisa by Rev. Cotten at (prob.) John's home to Abel Turner, the latter listed in the 1850 census at age 50 as a carpenter b. in NC and owning property valued at eight hundred dollars; also living in Turner's home in the 1850 census are his second wife Mary, 33; their daughter Anna, 4 mo.; and her son Walter J. Roark, 8.
25.02--Anna Turner, b. ca. June/July 1850; in the 1860 census, she is age 10 and living with her uncle and aunt, Louisa and Will McKnight in Cahaba; in the 1870 census, she is age 19 and living with her uncle and aunt, William and Roe Gwin in Wilsonville; m. their son and her own first cousin, Rufus King Gwin; 3 ch.;
[JMG NOTE:  Some of the info on Mary was provided me today--3 Aug 2000--by Gene W. Rogers (grogers@mcia.com) who, with many others, is researching this Roark family.   And today,  13 Feb 2001, I found even more info at a new-found cousin's webpage, http://www.phaenom.com/roark/jesse.htm#top. ]

From the 4 Nov 1850 census of Cahawba Beat, Dallas Co., AL

Last name
First name
545 Turner Abel 50 M W Carpenter $800 NC

Turner Mary 33 F W

AL Mary Gwin, widow of Drury Roark, now (4 Nov 1850) married to Abel Turner; Mary's end is unk. to me, for in ten years her only son Walter (below) will be living with her parents in the home of another couple (the Grices) and her only daughter, Anna, will be living with her sister Louisa and her husband, William McKnight.

Turner Anna 4/12 F W

AL Annie Turner, who will marry her first cousin, Rufus King Gwin, and raise her family in Florida where she'll die and be buried.

Rowark Wr. J. 8 M W

AL Walter Roark, Mary's son by her first marriage, who will die in 13 years at Gettysburg fighting for the CSA
From the 2 Aug 1860 census of Cahaba Town, Dallas Co., AL
Last name
First name
575 / 567 McKnight W. I. (J.?)  42 M W Printer -- $600 SC

McKnight Louisa 26 F W


McKnight Elizabeth 13 F W

AL I speculate that this is either William's daguhter by an earlier marriage or his younger sister.

Turner Anna 10 F W

AL Somewhere between 1850 and 1860, Mary and Abel must have died

Brown Z. 21 M W


From the 1 Aug 1860 census of Cahaba Town, Dallas Co., AL
Last name
First name
518/510 Grice W. G. 32 M W Carpenter ----- $300 SC From his listed occupation, I'd guess that this is perhaps a current or former employee of John who has agreed to take them into their home.

Grice Eliza 20 F W


Gwin John 68 M W Wagonmaker $1200

Gwin Jane 66 F W


Roark J. W. 15 M W

AL Walter Roark, s/o John and Jane's eldest daughter Mary Gwin and her husband Drury Roark; Drury is dead in 1860. Walter must be 18 here rather than 15.

Comelander Elizabeth 15 F W


A Partial Timeline of Walter's Short Life

1838 27 December Walter's parents marry in Cahaba. Dallas Co., AL, Marriage Records, 1818-1918








Walter's father, Drury Hampton Roark, dies in Cahaba in seventh year of their marriage.



1849 17 May
Walter's mother Mary marries widower Abel Turner; ceremony performed by Rev. Cotten, probably at John's and Jane's home.
Rev. Cotten's diary (see entry for this date)
1850 4 November
Walter, age listed as eight, is living in Cahaba with his mom, Mary Gwin Roark Turner, his new stepfather, Abel Turner, and his new, four-month-old baby half-sister, Anna Turner.
1850 U. S. Census (see above)










Walter, age listed as fifteen (but eighteen is more likely correct), is living in the home of the  W. G. Grice family in Cahaba with his maternal grandparents--John and Jane Gwin--and his 1st cousin, Elizabeth Comelander.
1860 U. S. Census (see above)
1861 10 April
Walter enlists in Co. F, Pegues' "Cahaba Rifles".
Fry, op. cit.

1863 1 July
Walter dies in first day of battle at Gettysburg, PA.
Fry, op. cit.


From Ancestry.com:

Regimental History

The Fifth Alabama regiment was organized at Montgomery, May 5, 1861.

Its first duty was at Pensacola, Fla. In August it was ordered to report to the commending officer of the army of Northern Virginia.

Its first colonel was the renowned Robert E. Rodes, who was promoted to brigadier-general, October 21, 1861, and to the rank of major-general, May 2, 1863. He was distinguished in all the battles of Northern Virginia and was wounded and disabled at Seven Pines, but recovered sufficiently to resume command of the brigade at the battles of Boonsboro and Sharpsburg. He was then placed in command of a division, which he led in its brilliant charge on Hooker's line at Chancellorsville, and it was for his gallantry in this battle that he received the commission of major-general.

He was greatly distinguished at Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, the second battle of Cold Harbor, Castleman's Ferry, Kernstown and Winchester. In the latter battle, while triumphantly leading his division, he received a mortal wound, lamented by his commanders and the entire army of Northern Virginia, toward whose great victories he had largely contributed.

Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson spoke of him in terms of highest commendation, and at Gettysburg his gallantry and skillful conduct elicited from General Lee his admiration and special thanks.

The next commander of this regiment was Christopher C. Pegues, who, like General Rodes, also reached great distinction, and after winning the encomiums of his commander for his gallantry in many battles, was killed while leading his regiment in the bloody charge at Cold Harbor.

Allen T. Jones, Lafayette Hobson and Josephus M. Hall afterward succeeded in command of this regiment. John T. Morgan, afterward a brigadier-general, was at one time its lieutenant-colonel, and Eugene Blackford its major.

Its first severe engagement was at Seven Pines, May 31 and June 1, 1862, where it lost 27 killed and 128 wounded. It also earned a well-merited meed of honor at Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbor, June 27th and 28th; Malvern Hill, July 1st to 5th; Second Manassas, August 30th; Boonsboro, September 15th; Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862; Chancellorsville, May 1 and 4, 1863; Gettysburg, July 1 to 3, 1863; the Wilderness, May 5, 6 and 7, 1864; Spottsylvania, May 8 to 18, 1864; Second Cold Harbor, June 1 to 12, 1864; advance upon Washington, July, 1864; battle of Winchester, July 24, 1864, and the terrible conflict in the trenches around Petersburg, September, 1864, to April, 1865.

From Ancestry.com:

American Civil War Soldiers
about Walter Roark

Name: Walter Roark
Side Served: Confederacy
State Served: Alabama
Service Record: Enlisted as a Private.
Enlisted in Company F, 5th Infantry Regiment Alabama.
Sources: 425

Among the other officers who were killed in battle were Capt. G. W. Johnson at Cold Harbor, Capt. William T. Renfro at Chancellorsville, Capt. N. R. E. Ferguson at the Wilderness, Capt. George Reed near Winchester, Capt. J. N. Gilchrist at Second Cold Harbor, Lieut. L. D. Wiley at Seven Pines, Lieutenant Ramsey at Gaines' Mill, and Lieut. Albert J. Wilcox at Gettysburg.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. VIII, p. 66

Gettysburg after-battle report:

Report of Col. J. M. Hall, Fifth Alabama Infantry.

Near Hagerstown, Md., July 9, 1863.  Lieut.: In obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of the Fifth Alabama Regt. since leaving Grace Church, Va.:

The regiment left camp, near Grace Church, Caroline County, Va., June 4, and arrived at Culpeper Court-House on the 7th.

On June 9, it was moved to support Maj.-Gen. Stuart, then engaging the enemy's cavalry near Brandy Station, but the enemy was driven back before the regiment was engaged.

On June 10, the line of march was resumed, and on the 13th the command reached Berryville, in the Valley of Virginia, when the enemy posted there fled on the approach of our troops.

On the next day, the command was moved forward, and arrived at Martinsburg about dark. [JMG: Walter's unit moved about 25 miles this day, crossing into what was about to become WV that afternoon/evening.] The enemy stationed at Martinsburg moved off before the infantry became engaged. [JMG: Walter's unit remained in Martinsburg 3 days and 4 nights--from the 11th to the 15th. Western Virginia would secede from VA and become the State of West Virginia on June 20.]

On the 15th, the command moved to Williamsport, and rested four days; then moved forward through the following places at the times respectively specified: Hagerstown, Md., June 19 [JMG: So Walter was never in WV; he was already in MD getting ready to enter PA when WV became a state.] ; Greencastle, Pa., June 22; Chambersburg, Pa., June 24; Shippensburg, Pa., June 26; Carlisle, June 27.

The regiment reached Gettysburg, Pa., by way of Petersburg from Carlisle, Pa., July 1, where the enemy was actually encountered for the first time at the battle of Gettysburg. The brigade was moved in line of battle, the movement commencing about 2 miles from the town, the right resting nearer to and in the direction of the enemy. The brigade moved 1 1/2 miles at a right wheel; hence the Fifth Alabama Regt., being on the left of the brigade, was compelled
to move very rapidly--frequently at a run. It is but just to state that the ground was very rough. In places the regiment moved through full-grown wheat, in others over plowed ground, through orchards, gardens, over wood and stone fences, which, with the rapidity of the march, fatigued the men, causing many of them to faint from exhaustion.

When within 500 yards of the enemy, the four regiments on my right were ordered forward, and the Fifth Alabama Regt. was halted in reserve, to protect the right flank of Gen. Doles and the left flank of that part of Rodes' brigade which was then advancing. After resting in this position a half hour, orders were sent to me to advance on the enemy, composed of two heavy lines of infantry in front and a line of sharpshooters, supported by infantry and artillery, on my left flank. The enemy in front was engaged by the right wing, the left having been thrown back at right angles with the rest of the line, to engage the flanking party. The regiment fought in this position until I was informed that the troops on the right were falling back, when I ordered a retrograde movement to the position I previously occupied. This was done the more conscientiously because the odds opposed were very great, and my command was under a front and enfilading fire, with no support, and suffering a very severe loss.

After the enemy was driven through the town, the command was posted in rear of the railroad, which position was held, though subject to a constant and severe shelling, until late on the evening of July 2, when the command was ordered forward to support a line of battle in front. This movement was prosecuted until orders came to fall back on the Cashtown road; that is, the regiment occupied that street in Gettysburg which is a continuation of the Cashtown road. This position was occupied all night, the men lying on their arms.

The next morning all of the brigade was ordered to Gen. Edward Johnson, excepting the Fifth Alabama Regt., which was reserved to guard the streets of Gettysburg. At 3 p. m. I was ordered to report to Gen. Doles. Was posted on his left, and remained in line of battle until 12 o'clock at night, when I received orders to report to my brigade, which had then returned to Rodes' division.

On the morning of July 4, the march was resumed, and the command reached Hagerstown, Md., without any further engagement.

I would respectfully state that the general conduct of my command was all that I could desire. I would beg to mention the names of the following officers, who were conspicuous for their gallantry and courage: Capt. T. M. Riley, in command of the right wing; Capts. E. B. Moseley and J. M. Gilchrist; Lieuts. Burton Goode, John A. Kirkland, E. P. Jones, and J. F. Christian. Adjt. C. I. Pegues acted with conspicuous gallantry.

Many brave men were killed. Lieut. [Albert J.] Wilcox, a most gallant officer, was killed on the field. The entire loss was--

Officers and men. K.....W....M......T.
Enlisted men...... 20...110....64...194

Total*................. 21...121...67...209

K=Killed. W=Wounded. M=Missing. T=Total.

Respectfully, &c.,

Col., Comdg. Fifth Alabama Regt.

Lieut. S. H. Moore,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Rodes' Brigade.

5th Alabama Infantry Regiment

From the fantastic webpage located at: http://www.tarleton.edu/~kjones/rodes.html#5th

The Fifth Alabama Infantry was organized at Montgomery, 5 May 1861, with recruits from the counties of Barbour, Clarke, Dallas, Greene, Lowndes, Monroe, Pickens, Sumter, and Talladega. It moved to Pensacola and a few days after, it proceeded to Virginia and took post near Manassas Junction in the brigade of Gen'l Richard Ewell. It was in the skirmish at Farr's Cross Roads and was on the field (but not engaged) at 1st Manassas. It remained in the vicinity of Manassas during the fall and winter, and Gen'l Robert E. Rodes became the brigade commander in October -- the 6th and 12th Alabama, and 12th Mississippi being the other regiments in the brigade. Moving with the army to Yorktown in March 1862, it there reenlisted and reorganized. It was under fire at Yorktown and was on the field at Williamsburg. At Seven Pines, the regiment engaged for the first time, losing 27 k and 128 w out of 660 men present. The 5th was hotly engaged at Cold Harbor and Malvern Hill, losing 15 k and 58 w. It was not at 2nd Manassas but moved into Maryland and fought at Boonsboro and Sharpsburg, losing 11 k and 39 w. It was in line of battle on the crest and witnessed Union Gen'l Ambrose Burnside's repulse at Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville, where its flag was captured by members of the 111th Pennsylvania Regiment, it was in the line under Gen'l Rodes that swept everything before it (but lost 24 k, 133 w, and 121 missing). It moved into Maryland and Pennsylvania in the Gettysburg campaign, and its loss was severe in that battle (60% [JMG: about 190 men, one of whom was Walter] casualties among 317 present). Having wintered at Orange Court House, the 5th, now reduced to a skeleton, participated in the battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania without severe loss. It took part in the subsequent operations as the lines began to be drawn around Petersburg, losing slightly at 2nd Cold Harbor. It went with Gen'l Jubal Early into the Valley and across the Potomac, taking part in numerous engagements with the enemy and losing severely at Winchester. It soon after took its place in the trenches of Petersburg and wintered there. Only 4 officers and 53 men were at the final surrender at Appomattox, under Capt. T. J. Riley. Of 1719 names on the rolls, nearly 300 died in battle; 240 others died in the service, and 507 were discharged or transferred.

Field and staff Officers: Cols. Robert Emmett Rodes (Tuscaloosa, promoted); Allen Cadwallader Jones (Breene, until reorganized); Cristopher Cladius Pegues (Dallas, KIA, 1st Cold Harbor); Josephus Marion Hall (Clarke, wounded, Spotsylvania, and resigned); Edwin LaFayette Hobson (Greene); Lt. Cols. Allen Cadwallader Jones (promoted); John Tyler Morgan (Dallas, resigned); Josephus Marion Hall (promoted); Edwin Lafayette Hobson (promoted); Eugene Blackford (Barbour); and Majors John Tyler Morgan (promoted); H. A. Whiting (Tuscaloosa, transferred); Edwin Lafayette Hobson (promoted); Eugene Blackford (promoted); and Adjutants H. A. Whiting (promoted); Robert I. Smith (Mobile; until reorganized); and Charles J. Pegues (Dallas).

Captains, and counties from which the companies came:

Historical Resources: