The Virginia Flaggers are pleased to announce the release of the first in a series of profiles of Confederate Veterans who resided at the Old Soldiers’ Home, on the grounds of Confederate Memorial Park in Richmond, VA.For over 140 weeks, the Virginia Flaggers have forwarded the colors, twice a week, on the sidewalk outside of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) after museum officials forced the removal of Confederate Battle Flags from the portico of the Confederate Memorial Chapel.
One cannot truly appreciate the history and significance of the Chapel, nor the degree of desecration committed when museum leadership, driven by their own misguided prejudice and ignorance, removed the flags, without knowing the (personal) stories of the men who built the Chapel, worshiped in it every Sunday, and gathered each time the bell tolled, to pay their respects to and honor their comrades, as one by one, the Veterans passed over to eternity.
For many of our Flaggers, this fight is about more than just defending our Heritage against yet another unwarranted and unprovoked attack. For those whose veins course with the blood of the men who actually lived and died at the Old Soldiers’ Home, it is personal...
Veteran Profile: Howard Malcolm Walthall, Co. D, 1st VA Infantry
By Laurel Kathryn Scott
On April 21, 1861, without consulting his parents, 19-year-old Howard Malcolm Walthall—a clerk in Richmond, Virginia—stepped into a vacant store and enlisted to defend his home. Like his younger brother Robert Ryland Walthall and other locals, he became a private in the 1st Virginia Regiment just days after that state's secession from the Union. "I was in my teens then, and with crude ideas of what going to war meant," he later wrote. But he knew that the Southern states refused to submit to oppressive legislation. He also knew that attempts to prevent secession by military force "fired the southern spirit, and they made ready to resist the invasion."
Photo: Howard (on the left) with his younger brother Robert (“Ryland”) in their uniforms, 1861 - Courtesy of Grace Walthall Turner Karish
Co. D, 1st VA entered the fray July 18, 1861 at Blackburn's Ford. In his post-war memoir, Howard vividly described his involvement in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Frayser's Farm and Second Manassas, not to mention Gettysburg (where he survived Pickett's Charge), Plymouth, Drewry's Bluff and Five Forks. He was captured at Second Manassas and imprisoned briefly in Alexandria's Slave Pen and Washington's Old Capitol Prison. In May, 1864, he saw his brother shot at Drewry's Bluff after "standing [and] shouting to the Yanks to come on." Ryland died in Howard's arms. He had fought his last fight, but Howard faced quite an ordeal getting his body out of the swamp and to Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery.
The following spring, after the desperate clash at Five Forks, capture seemed imminent and the men of Howard's company were told to fend for themselves. Howard commandeered a horse and rode to Richmond. There he said goodbye to his family, escaping as the enemy poured into the city and the evacuation fires started. Toting bags of Confederate money for sons of families left in Richmond, he sold the horse and rejoined the remnants of his company at Amelia Court House. During the army's chaotic retreat—possibly from Sayler's Creek—Howard was struck in the arm by a stray bullet. He distributed the money as promised, but as his wound needed tending and he dared not risk capture, he pressed on toward Lynchburg to see a cousin who was a doctor. Soon after his arrival, Howard learned of Lee's surrender. He was paroled at Lynchburg on April 15 and walked back to Richmond, where he found his neighborhood destroyed by fire and his family homeless.
After the war, Walthall rebuilt his life in Richmond and went to work in the tobacco manufacturing business. He married and raised four children, becoming a deacon of the First Baptist Church and traveling around the world. He was also active with R.E. Lee Camp No. 1, Confederate Veterans.
In 1923, at the age of 82, Howard—by then a blind, feeble widower—applied for residency at the Lee Camp's Soldiers' Home. In a touching letter to the home's superintendant, he asked for a first-floor room because of his difficulty negotiating stairs, and said he looked forward to living among his old comrades-in-arms. "With the care and pleasant surroundings at the home, I hope to be out of doors a great deal," he wrote. "I am well acquainted with several men in cottages ... If Mr. Chamberlin's [old] room is unoccupied next to Mr. Bachelor, it would be very agreeable to have it, as then some of my friends might be of service in my blindness in telling me the time, etc."
Howard left the Soldiers' Home on Jan. 13, 1924 and died two days later at Grace Hospital, his daughters by his side.
90 years after Howard Malcolm Walthall left this earth, his cousin, Laurel Kathryn Scott, is determined that his sacrifice, courage and devotion to God and country will not be forgotten, as she forwards the Colors in his memory, and in protest of those who have desecrated the Confederate Memorial Chapel and the hallowed ground on which it rests, and dishonored our gallant Confederate Veterans.
God bless the Walthall brothers, and God bless those who stand and speak for those who no longer have a voice!
RETURN the flags!
RESTORE the honor!
Virginia FlaggersP.O. Box 547Sandston VA 23150