Colonel Abram Fulkerson, CSA
Member, Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia State Senator
Member, United States House of Representatives
Line of Descent:
Guillaume VIGNE and Adrienne CUVELIER
Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN and Christine VIGNE
Volkert DIRCKS and Annetje PHILIPS
Jacobus VOLKERTSON (Capt. James Fulkerson) and Mary VAN HOOK
Abram FULKERSON and Margaret Laughlin VANCE



Col. Abram FULKERSON, a lawyer, statesman, warrior, and distinguished citizen of Bristol, died in December from the effects of a stroke of paralysis, from which he only partially rallied.

Col. FULKERSON was in his sixty-eighth year. Barring wounds sustained while rendering distinguished service to the Confederacy, he was a strong, vigorous man, bodily and mentally. The passing of Col. FULKERSON removes one of the most noted figures in his section. By birth he was a patriot, and possessed a degree of chivalry and courage which gave him prominence in the great war. After the war he soon gained prominence in the legal profession, after which he was rewarded with positions of trust and honor in the State and nation.

There was much of romance in the life of Col. FULKERSON. His accomplishments were actuated by a courage and manly spirit that deserve the consideration of the generation coming on. He met every problem in life calmly and courageously, and never known to falter in the discharge of a duty. Even after he had been stricken down with paralysis he retained the same calm and manly spirit, and faced death in the same manner that had characterized him on the field of battle.

In 1862, he was granted a furlough that he might go to Clarksville and claim the estimable young woman who had promised to become his bride. He was married just in time to escape the Federals, who were pouring in on Clarksville. Bringing his bride home, he returned immediately to his post of duty, where he remained until taken prisoner, in spite of the serious wounds which he sustained while facing the enemy in the white heat of battle. This same spirit of determination manifested itself throughout the splendid career of this man of big heart and brain, whom Bristol was always proud to claim as a citizen.

Col. FULKERSON was born May 13, 1834, of Scottish-Irish parents, near Bristol, VA, and named for his father, who was a captain in the war of 1812, and his mother was Margaret VANCE, a relative of the late Senator Z. B. VANCE of North Carolina. His brother, Samuel V. FULKERSON, was colonel of the Thirty-Seventh Virginia Regiment of Infantry, and his brother Isaac served through the war as a captain in the Eighth Texas Cavalry [well known in those days as Terry's Texas Rangers]. When Col. FULKERSON was yet a babe, his father moved to Grainger County, Tenn. When he was thirteen years of age his three older brothers, Samuel, Isaac, and Frank, volunteered for service in the Mexican war, and left him in charge of his father's farm, a mere lad.

He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1857, and while there was a student under Prof. T.J. (Stonewall) JACKSON. He then taught school at Palmyra, VA, and at Rogersville, Tenn. He was at the latter place when the civil war began. Before hostilities commenced he raised a company in Hawkins County, and took it to Knoxville and joined the Nineteenth Tennessee, of which he was elected major. His was the first volunteer company organized in East Tennessee. With the Nineteenth he engaged in the battles of Wild Cat and Shiloh. In the last-named battle his horse was shot under him, and he was severely wounded in the thigh. After recovering from his wound, he assisted in organizing the Sixty-third Tennessee Regiment, and was made its first lieutenant colonel.   [In 1863 the 63rd was involved in the Confederacy's unsuccessful Tennessee campaigns.]

On February 12, 1864, President Jefferson DAVIS appointed him colonel of this regiment. He led it in the terrific fight at Chickamauga, where he was again severely wounded in the left arm. After this his regiment was attached to Longstreet's Corps, which made the campaign of East Tennessee, and was then transferred to Virginia. There he took part in the battles of Drewry's Bluff, the affairs at Walthall's Junction, Swift Creek, Bermuda Hundred, and Petersburg. During the fight at Petersburg he was wounded and captured, June 17, 1864. He was imprisoned at Fort Delaware; was one of the famous "six hundred" officers sent to Morris Island and kept under the fire of the Confederate guns at Charleston for six weeks. He was then sent to Fort Pulaski and put on "starvation rations" in retaliation for alleged mistreatment of the Federal prisoners at Andersonville. He was returned to Fort Delaware in March, 1865, and discharged from prison July 25, 1865, more than three months after the surrender.   [Two months after his capture, on August 10, 1864, the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office in Richmond, VA published General Orders No. 64. This was a Roll of Honor for battles including Gettysburg and Chickamauga. For the latter battle, the roll included the name of "Lieut. Colonel A. Fulkerson" of the 63rd Tennessee.]

In 1866 he began the practice of law as a member of the firm of YORK & FULKERSON, and by his ability, courage, and strict integrity, he rose to the front rank. He practiced his profession continuously and most successfully until he was paralyzed, while sitting in his office, March 6, 1900. He was the senior member of the firm of FULKERSON, PAGE & HURT at the time of his death.

Col. FULKERSON served ten years in the Virginia Legislature, three terms in the house and one in the Senate, and he was a member of the forty-seventh Congress of the United States, having been elected in November, 1880, to represent the Ninth District of Virginia. He was one of the five members of the legislature who organized the Readjuster party, which swept over the State like a tidal wave in 1878 and created a political revolution.

His wife was Selina JOHNSON, of Clarksville, Tenn. S.V. FULKERSON, son and law partner, served as a Captain in the Fourth Tennessee Regiment during the Spanish-American war, was in Cuba four months as a part of the Army of occupation. He is now a member of the staff of Gov. MONTAGUE, of Virginia, with the rank of Colonel, and a member of the U.S.C.V. Col. FULKERSON was the youngest of nine children of whom only two are now living, Mrs. B.F. HURT, of Abingdon, VA, and Mrs. Harriet ARMSTRONG, of Rogersville, Tenn.

Col. FULKERSON assisted in organizing the S.V. FULKERSON Camp of Confederate Veterans in Bristol, named for his brother. Col. FULKERSON was the first Commander of the Camp.

At the funeral the honorary pallbearers, chosen from the Camp of Confederate Veterans, were Maj. H.C. WOOD, Mayor W.L. RICE, Col. Charles R. VANCE, Messrs, N.D. BACHMAN, John W. EMMERT, and John B. KELLER.

Letter from Abram to his wife, 18 May 1863, from the VMI archives:

Cumberland Gap
May 18, 1863

My dear wife-

  Your last kind letter was recd by friday's mail. Your dear letters are my greatest pleasure and do away in a great measure with the horror of separation. The frequency with which we can communicate with each other is a rich blessing and brings us as if we're almost together.

  One of our pickets came in the other day and reported that a Mr. Davis was at the lines and desired to enter. This report took me very much by surprise, for although you had mentioned the probability of his coming yet I did not look for him. He only stayed a few hours. After dinner (a very poor one without apology to him) I went [around] to show him some of the curiosities of Cumberland Gap, which he seemed to think would compensate any one for making the visit. He went back up the valley and expected to get home by Wednesday next. Will see you Sunday, if not sooner.

  The intelligence of the death of Gen. Jackson came upon us like a shock. We feel that his death is a national calamity. The poorest soldiers among us appreciated his worth - loved the man, and mourn his loss. I knew him well.1 He was my preceptor for more than four years and whilst during that time I did not appreciate the man, as school [schoolboys?] are not like to do, yet I always had great reverence for the man on account of his piety and uprightness of character. Among the many heroes of this revolution, none have lived so much adored, none have died so much deplored, and none have left a character as spotless as that of Stonewall Jackson. Could his life have been spared till the close of this cruel war, the unanimous voice of a grateful people would have proclaimed him chief ruler of the nation. But God has seen proper to take him from us, and what He does is right and for the best. It is [illegible] therefore that we make the sacrifice cheerfully, th'o we cannot see why our country should be deprived of his services at his her hour of greatest need.

  I have no news of importance more than you will see in the papers. The news from Ky is vague and unreliable. It is reported and believed that there are three or four Regmts at Barboursville, 30 miles distant. That Burnsides is preparing to invade E. Tenn. on a large scale there seems no longer to be any doubt. A southern woman the wife of a Lincolnite told Mrs. Patterson today that a runner had just come across the mountain to tell the Union people, they must stay at home, that the Feds would be in, in about three weeks, that where they were found absent it would be an evidence of disloyalty. I will not be surprised if they make an effort about that time.

  Mr. Patterson started to the R.R. today - is going to the salt works. I asked him to stop and see you all, but he would not promise. No prospect of any goods yet. Do you want any money? When you need money or any thing else you must not fail to let me know. My love to mother and Kate. Write often,

Your affectionate husband AF.

Just two years later, the bitterness was evident as he wrote to his wife while a prisoner of war following Lee's surrender at Appomattox:

Field Officers Barracks, Ft. Delaware
May 7 1865

My dear wife-

  I have not heard directly from you since the 4th of Feb. Your letter was directed to Ft. Pulaski. I received on my way here at Hilton Head S.C. Since that time we have passed through the most eventful period of the war. The closing scenes are being enacted, and with hearts overwhelmed with grief & sadness we bow in deep humiliation in their contemplation. The present, thank God, is only the "beginning of the end." The military power of the South is broken, the spirit is not. The ball has been put in motion by the people of the South, an impetus has been given it, which will eventually result in the destruction of the U.S. Government and if not in the independence of the South, certainly in the disenthrallment of her people. Ten years will see us under the protecting wing of a foreign power, or independent.

  I expect to meet you soon, not crowned with the laurels of victory but with the oath crammed down my throat, a quiescent citizen of the United States. I have the sweet consolation of being conscious of having served the cause faithfully. I sacrificed everything but life, and hazarded that, many times & in many ways, in behalf of my country. I have not the slightest fear that any man can ever point at me the finger of scorn and say "you done it." I have performed my duty and now abandon the cause as (at present) hopeless, without in the least having changed my opinion as to the justness of that cause. I go now to share with the people of the south the deep humiliation which will be dictated by yankee vindictiveness.

  I have heard from you thr'o your father up to March 1st. Receive letters from him often. Says he will send you money &c thr'o Mr. Armstrong. Hope you may have no difficulty in getting along. I cannot tell when I will be released, but probably soon. My love to Kate. Tell the boy, I'll be home soon. Your affect. husband.

  A. Fulkerson P.W.

Isaac Fulkerson

Abram's brother Isaac served through the Mexican-American War (1846-47) in the 5th Tennessee regiment under Col. George R. McClelland. He was in Texas around the start of the Civil War and joined the 8th Texas Cavalry at Houston in September 1861. By December of that year he was promoted to lieutenant and the unit was renamed Terry's Texas Rangers. They fought at Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Knoxville, Atlanta and in the Carolinas - and averaged almost one battle or skirmish per day for the 3-1/2 years of their existence. They had only 165 men killed, 280 wounded and 38 captured during this time period - which is remarkable because many other Civil War units could lose this number of men in a single day. Isaac lived at Bryan, TX, after the war and served as county treasurer.

Parts of two letters he wrote describe the war's toll of death and tragedy on its participants.

December 20, 1861 - Writing to his brother Frank, from Cave City, Kentucky, Isaac told of the death of his commander, Colonel B.F. Terry, which caused the regiment to change its name to "Terry's Texas Rangers" in memoriam. " was a brilliant little fight and would have been perfectly satisfactory to us, but for the death of Col. Terry. He was the first man killed. He was shot in three places and his horse killed at the same place...We suffered a great loss in the death of Col T. He knew not what fear was..."

October 27, 1862 - Writing from Knoxville to his sister Kate he describes heavy fighting with Union troops at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky "...we arrived at this place yesterday off of one of the longest, hardest and most dangerous trips... I think I can safely say that I have been under the fire of the enemy at least forty times since I saw you. At one time a shell struck a man and horse near me killing both and covering me all over with blood and flesh..."

19th Tennessee Infantry

  Assembled at Knoxville, Tennessee, during May and June, 1861, and entered Confederate service at Cumberland Gap. The men were recruited in the counties of Hamilton, Sullivan, Washington, Rhea, Knox, Polk, McMinn, and Hawkins. It fought at Fishing Creek, Shiloh, and Baton Rouge, and after serving in the Vicksburg area joined the Army of Tennessee. The 19th was assigned to Stewart’s, Strahl’s and Palmer’s brigades, and participated in the difficult campaigns of the army from Murfreesboro to Atlanta. Later it moved with Hood back to Tennessee and saw action in North Carolina.

  During September, 1861, it had 812 men present for duty, reported 34 casualties at Fishing Creek, and lost about twenty-five percent of the 400 at Shiloh and thirty-three percent of the 380 at Murfreesboro. the regiment suffered 94 casualties of the 242 engaged at Chickamauga, had 34 disabled at Chattanooga, and in December, 1863, totalled 195 men and 119 arms. On April 26, 1865, it surrendered with 64 men. The field officers were Colonels David H. Cummings, Carrick W. Heiskell, and Francis M. Walker; Lieutenant Colonels James G. Deadrick and Beriah F. Moore; and Majors Abraham Fulkerson and Rufus A. Jarnagin.

(from: Units of the Confederate States Army; Joseph H. Crute, Jr.)