Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #45: Veteran of the Spanish American War

Ancestor Name: Edmund Lenwood WOMACK (1875-1937)

Edmund Lenwood Womack is my grand uncle by marriage. He married my paternal grandfather's half-sister, Leta Vernon Jennings, on 15 September 1906 in Roanoke, Virginia. They married four months after Leta's step-mother, Effie Davis (Beard) Jennings, died.

Edmund was a conductor on the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio (CC&O) Railway for over 30 years, but that's a story for another day.

Before his marriage, Edmund served his country in the Spanish-American War. His regiment mustered for the war with Spain on 21 May 1898 at a strength of 1,021 officers and men. The 2nd Virginia Volunteers Infantry was commanded by Col. James C. Baker and stationed at Camp Lee, Virginia, which was in Richmond, Virginia, at the state fairgrounds. At the time the state fair was held at what is now 2500 West Broad Street.

The Virginia regiments left Camp Lee by 6 June 1898 and were transferred to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida. The camp had been established just a few weeks earlier and was the assembly point for Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's Seventh Corp, which was soon to be designated the Occupation Army for Cuba.  It was located about three miles north of Jacksonville near Panama Park.

General layout of Camp Cuba Libre, Camp Wells, and Camp
Springfield; image courtesy of Otis Historical Archives,
National Museum of Health and Medicine

Camp Cuba Libre soon became home to more than 30,000 men. Supplies were so short they had to eat with their fingers off roofing shingles. Medical necessities were so slow in arriving, Fitzhugh Lee turned to the Red Cross for support.

Most of the soldiers spent time drilling and at target practice. They were preparing to to invade and occupy Havana, but that became unnecessary with the victory at Santiago. Elements of the Seventh Corps were sent to Cuba as an occupation force, but the 2nd Virginia Volunteers Infantry was not among them. The regiment was mustered out of the Army on 11 December 1898. The U.S. occupied Cuba until 1902.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Edmund Lenwood Womack was born on 10 November 1875 in Christiansburg, Virginia, to Jesse and Elizabeth (Pedigo) Womack. There is a discrepancy regarding Edmund's birth date. (His birth index record says 10 November 1875; his headstone, 1878; and his WWI draft card say 4 December 1878. However, I do not believe the 1878 date is correct as his younger brother was born on 18 August 1878.) At the age of 22, he volunteered to fight in the Spanish-American War. After the war he started working for a railroad as a brakeman and lived in Roanoke with his married sister's family. On 15 September 1906 Edmund married Leta Vernon Jennings in Roanoke. By 1918 when he registered for the World War I draft, he and Leta were living in Erwin, Tennessee, and he was a conductor on the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio railway, which was headquartered in Erwin. They remained in Erwin the remainder of their married lives and had five known children with four living to adulthood. Edmund was killed in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the southern terminus of the CC&O on 22 October 1937. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Erwin. His wife lived until 1959 and is buried beside her husband.

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