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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

William Foster

William Foster

Rank: Company E of the 9th Virginia Cavalry

Descendant: Wade H

William Edwin Foster was born October 21, 1821 at his parent’s home “Aspen Hill” in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. His father was Robert D. Foster and his mother was Elizabeth Mitchell of Fredericksburg, Virginia. William was the 1st son and 1st child born to his parents. William married Ada Engedi Harding on April 14, 1842 at Spotsylvania, Virginia. Ada’s family resided in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Ten children were born to the couple. Their 3rd child, Powhatan Thomas Foster, was born December 20th, 1846 at Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

When the civil war came to Spotsylvania County, William, two brothers and a son all enlisted in the 9th Virginia Cavalry, Company E. Corbin Crutchfield was the Captain of the Company which was made up of Spotsylvania residents. The 9th Virginia Cavalry was led by Gen. R. L. T. Beale of Westmorland County. Gen. Beale later wrote a history of the Regiment wherein he identified the men who enlisted or joined each of the Companies. Those lists included the above 4 Foster men as well as the young Powhatan in Company E.

At the time of the Battle in the Wilderness, the 9th Cavalry was assigned to John Randolph Chambliss’ Cavalry Brigade. Chambliss’ Brigade was organized into William Henry Fitzhugh “Rooney” Lee’s Cavalry Division. The Division advanced from Hamilton’s Crossing early on the 5th of May, 1864 and was active along the Brock and Catharpin roads that day and the next. There is no record of the Powhatan’s having enlisted when his elder family members enlisted. He would have been only 14 years old at that time. Apparently, late in 1861, he left home and joined the older family members in the 9th Cavalry. Though he was not included in the initial manning for the Regiment, he was eventually added and was included in morning roll calls. In his history of the 9th Cavalry, former commander R. L. T. Beale did include Powhatan in his manning list for Company E.

The 9th Cavalry participated in Confederate campaigns from Fredericksburg through Appomattox, to include the Battle of the Wilderness. Although they were involved in many battles there is no record of any of the Foster men having been wounded. They were still with Gen. Lee at Appomattox when he was forced to surrender.

William and his two sons returned to their Spotsylvania County “Aspen Hill” home and returned to farming there. William died January 31, 1885 at Spotsylvania County and was buried in the family cemetery.

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