Company A 14th Regiment, West Virginia Volunteers
Submitted by Arden Swiger
The final chapter of this story starts when I received a letter from Jerry Helmick from Harrisville, WV stating that he had Lafayette Swiger’s rifle. He said that he was looking for a relative of Lafayette’s and would like a picture and information on him if I had it. I was very interested and said that I would love to see the rifle and that I did have a picture and some information. I told him that I was a double 1st. cousin twice removed of Lafayette, my Grandfather, Elias Jacob Swiger Jr., was his double 1st. cousin, and that I was very close since I was just a second generation from the Civil War. My Grandfather was in the Third WV Cavalry and Lafayette was in the 14th WV Infantry. Attached are pictures of Lafayette, the battlefield wall, the rifle, Jerry and me with the rifle and me with the rifle.
The following is the story.
The story of Lafayette Swiger and his Enfield Rifle and how the rifle came home to West Virginia.
29 October 2011
The rifle belongs to Jerry Helmick and this was what he had to say about our story
The undersigned, Jerry Helmick, states the following information on the Enfield rifle that has been identified as being issued to Lafayette Swiger, a member of Company A, 14th Regiment West Virginia Volunteers.
This rifle was purchased from an antique gun dealer in Wilmington, Ohio. This dealer had done some research from the markings on the rifle trigger guard and determined that
it had been issued to Lafayette Swiger with Company A of the 14th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry.
After learning that the 14th had been primarily comprised of men from Doddridge County and Harrison County, I started to try to locate descendents of Lafayette Swiger.
A computer search showed that one, Arden Swiger, had information on Lafayette Swiger and his second cousin, Fabius Hall. I soon learned that Arden was a double first cousin 2x removed to Lafayette.
Finally made contact through mail and phone with Arden Swiger and at this time we arranged a meeting to share information on Lafayette Swiger.
On the above date I had the pleasure of meeting with Arden and his lovely wife, Ethel. The rifle was shown to
Arden and photos were taken of Arden in his Civil War uniform holding the rifle.
We both agreed that it was kind of a chilling feeling holding the rifle of a descendant of his who was killed at the second battle of Kernstown, Winchester, VA, on 24 July 1864.
I live in Harrisville and Lafayette enlisted in the Union Army at West Union so the rifle almost made it back home.
In a tour of the Kernstown battlefield at Winchester, VA last month, pictures were taken of the area where the 14th were cut down by Confederate cross fire.
Jerry L. Helmick
Arden Swiger with Rifle
Lafayette was the 12th. child of Barnes and Mary and was raised at Center Point, WV
At the age of 18, Lafayette enlisted in the Civil War with the Union army as a Private in Company A, 14th. Regiment WV Infantry Volunteers under Capt. Jacob Smith. He was mustered into service on 23 August 1862 and was stationed at Camp Russell, Virginia.
In a battle at Winchester, VA on 24 July 1864, Lafayette's company occupied the top of a hill and were fighting from behind a stone wall at the Old Stone Church.
Stonewall at Kernstown battlefield at Winchester, VA
As the Rebels advanced toward them, Lafayette's officer, seeing that his men were greatly outnumbered
and that remaining any longer meant total annihilation, ordered a hasty retreat. Lafayette and two companions, being nearer the stone wall and the deafening
sound of musketry, failed to hear the retreating orders and continued firing. When they glanced around to see that they were alone, they realized the perilousness
of their position. As the enemy advanced nearer to the top of the hill, Lafayette and his companions started running down the other side of the hill. Lafayette,
who soon fell, was first thought to have tripped on briars, but when his companions tried to assist him to his feet, they saw blood oozing from his forehead which
had been pierced by the enemy's bullet. Lafayette was buried in an unknown grave, if buried at all.
Source: Genealogical Biographical History Swiger Family by Ira L. Swiger 1916
Lafayette, son of Barnes and Mary (Marsh) Swiger, was born in McClelland district, Doddridge county, Mar. 11, 1844; enlisted in the cause of the Union in the war of '61, and was killed in the battle at Winchester, Virginia, Oct., 1864.
His company occupied the top of a hill, and were fighting from behind a stone wall, as the Rebels advanced toward them, The officer of the company, seeing that his men were greatly outnumbered and that remaining longer meant total annihilation, order a hasty retreat.
Mr. Swiger and two companions, being nearer the stone wall and the deafening sound of musketry, failed to hear the retreating orders and continued firing. When they happened to glance around, seeing that they were alone, they fully realized the perilousness of their positions; and as the enemy advanced nearer and nearer, to the top of the hill, they started running down the other side. Swiger, who soon fell, was thought at first to have been tripped by running briars; but when his companions tried to assist him to his feet, they saw blood oozing from his forehead, which had been pierced by the enemy's bullet. He was buried in an unknown grave, if buried at all.
Information taken from : History of the Swiger and Related Families of Doddridge and Harrison Counties, WV by Michael Wayne Barrett 1985
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