I came across and purchased a cane ID’d to a Confederate Civil War cavalry soldier by the name of Abner Ashby Lynn. It is made of wood, with the initials A.A. Lynn carved in shallow relief on the 5” in diameter ring-shaped handle. Also carved in shallow relief on the handle is a wooden hand which is holding the ring. The shaft is made from two pieces of wood into which the carver (A.A. Lynn?) chose to incise a stylized organic pattern of leaves and flowers. The stick is stained dark brown. The collar is missing. The part that touches the ground, the ferrule, is made of brass, which might have started its life as a piece of something else.
Abner Ashby Lynn, son of Alexander P. Lynn and Mary Jane (Ashby) Lynn, was born November 10, 1842 in Prince William County. He had several siblings:
- Benjamin F. Lynn
- Leonard Lynn
- Julia Frances Davis
- Edward Norman Lynn
- Florence E. Kincheloe
- Estelle J. Clarke
- Mary M. Lynn (once held the family bible)
Along with the cane, I received a folder containing history researched by the previous owner. I, in turn, researched as far as I could, hoping to learn as much about the man as possible. If only I could have discovered a photo!
Abner Ashby Lynn enrolled for active service in Brentsville, VA on 5/20/1861 and was mustered into active service as a private 5/28/1861, into Captain William W. Thornton’s Prince William Cavalry Company, formed in January of 1860, three months after the John Brown Raid and over a year before Virginia would leave the Union. He was 19 years old at the time of his enlistment.
On July 21, 1861, as an independent company, they participated in the First Battle of Manassas. On September 19, 1861, the Prince William Cavalry Company became Company A of the 4th Virginia Cavalry.
The 4th Virginia Cavalry participated in 475 battles, many of them considered major, and mustered out on April 9, 1865.
The following men sharing the Lynn surname also served at one time or another in Company A:
- Absalom T. Lynn
- Benjamin F. Lynn-brother
- George H. Lynn
- Henry Fairfax Lynn
- John Currell Lynn
- John H. Lynn
- Joseph Lynn
- Leroy W. Lynn
- Luther Lynn
- Milton Lynn
- William W. Lynn
In an article from The Progress-Index dated April 2, 2015 entitled “The Waterloo of the Confederacy,” Richard Garrison, a direct descendant of Abner Ashby Lynn, traveled from his home in Black Mountain, N.C. to Five Forks Battlefield in Dinwiddie County to attend the Five Forks anniversary event on 4/1/2015, reliving the day when the Union army marched to the intersection of Five Forks to attack Confederate forces. This battle was a critical victory for Union troops because it opened up the path to the South Side Railroad, which led to the “breakthrough” of Petersburg. Lee surrendered to Grant only seven days later.
According to 4th Virginia Cavalry by Kenneth L. Stiles, Mr. Lynn was “absent April 1865 with wounds; at home surrender; paroled 5/1/1865; wounded 7 times.”
Mr. Garrison offered some additional information about his great-grandfather:
“He was a cavalryman for the 4th Virginia cavalry. He was probably dismounted cavalry…we don’t know the specifics, but somewhere along the course of the day he was wounded and carried from the field.” <referring to the Battle of Five Forks>
Mr. Garrison further added that Mr. Lynn was well suited to join the cavalry, “The family was in the blacksmithing (trade), primarily in wheelwrights, so they knew a lot about horses,” Garrison said. He added, “And the cavalry was the most romantic thing to be doing.”
Mr. Garrison shared that following the war, his great-grandfather returned home to his family and got a job working on a railroad. “He went back home to his family in Dumfries. He got a job with the railroad, probably the Central Washington Railroad, and he was a custodian of a railroad bridge.”
After the war, Mr. Lynn married Sarah Harrison Speake, on 12/17/1873. From their union the following children were born:
- Abner Harrison Lynn
- Aldwin Speake Lynn
- Alvin S. Lynn
- Anderson Lynn
- Andrew Norman Lynn
- Annie Jane Lynn
- Earl Lynn
- Elsie Virginina Lynn
- Lilly Powell Lynn
- Lucy Chapman Lynn (1889-1978)/John Milton Smith
Mr. Lynn applied for pension benefits on May 26, 1915. According to that application, he earned a living as a railroad bridge-watchman. The application filled out by Mr. Lynn states, “I served from May 1861 to April 1865 and was wounded four times. One ball is still in my body.” Interestingly, this account differs from what is found in Mr. Stiles’ book indicating that Mr. Lynn was wounded seven times.
Mr. Lynn died on January 30, 1929 and is buried in Dumfries Cemetery.