Joseph Cullen Bishop’s Civil War Service Record


According to his pension application, he joined in September, 1864 and was assigned to the 45th Virginia Infantry under Captain Francis Miller.  No record of J. C.’s enlistment with the 45th can be found in the National Archives, Washington, D. C. or in any regimental histories of the 45th.

But his service record can be found for the 17th Virginia Infantry, which follows showing he was “absent – Under guard, Transferred from 45 VA Infty.”

In his pension application, there is a letter written by him, giving information about his service and he refers to being under arrest in December 1864 and sent to Castle Thunder – a prison in Richmond, Va. 

            I do not know why he was under arrest, but based on information from the 17th Virginia Infantry, witnesses that great granddad Joseph gave on his pension application and that he was from Floyd County, Virginia, this is my best guess. 

Note: The following is taken from “Sisson’s Kingdom: Loyalty Division in Floyd County, Virginia 1861-1865” by Paul Randolph Dotson, Jr. – Master’s Thesis.

            “Civil War bitterly divided the residents of Floyd County and ultimately generated an

inner civil war within the community.  The wartime conflict among Floyd’s white citizens deeply contrasted their pre-Civil War history of cohesion, cooperation, and solidarity.  From formation of the county in 1831 through an economic boom during the 1850s, citizens had worked together to better their mountaintop community, cooperated to bring much needed transportation improvements to the region, and profited together from the economic gains that resulted.  They worshipped together, provided for each other in times of need, helped raise neighbors’ barns, swapped labor, and enjoyed each other’s company.  However, the war dramatically shattered this pattern of cohesion and left Floyd’s residents profoundly and painfully divided.


            ….Virginia’s secession vote brought many local loyalty divisions to the surface in Floyd and resulted in widespread intimidation and violence at the polls.  County residents initially embraced Virginia’s secession, and hundreds of local men rushed to enlist in Floyd’s newly forming Confederate infantry companies.  However, their pro-secession reaction was contrasted by a minority of the community who chose to remain loyal to the United States, refused to enlist in the Confederate military, and openly resisted their new Confederate government. 


Nearly 23 percent of Confederate enlistees and conscripts (forced) from Floyd County deserted their units during the war; a desertion rate double the state average and nearly three times the confederate norm.”

Joseph C’s brother, Henry Wesley Bishop, was a member of the 54th Virginia Infantry.  Henry Wesley Bishop went AWOL in May, 1862, refused to re-enlist and was conscripted (forced) to rejoin the unit.  He was captured at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee in November 1863 and sent to Louisville, Kentucky and from there was sent to Rock Island, Illinois.  Enlisted in U.S. Navy at Rock Island January 1864.

I believe that Joseph Cullen Bishop was conscripted as well based on the following:

On his pension application J. C. gave the names of Harrison Roop and Creed Fortune as witnesses to his service in the war.  Both of these men and the ones listed below, were all conscripts from the Floyd/Montgomery Counties.  All were transferred from the 45th Virginia Infantry to the 17th Virginia Infantry and all were under arrest in December 1864 per their service records.

            From the 17th Virginia Infantry Regimental History:

“The regiment was inspected on December 29, 1864.  The rolls indicate that at the end of December 1864 seven discontent conscripts from the 45th Virginia in winter quarters in Augusta County were transferred to Company G 17th VA.  They were all “absent under guard” on December 30.  Five are unaccounted for after that date, one of them deserted in January and the other was later captured.”

These seven were:

Creed T. Fortune, Charles Greer, Joseph Mayberry, Thomas C. Ratcliff, Harrison Roop, James R. Roop and Joseph C. Bishop.

Based on Joseph Cullen Bishop’s written letter (see next), he was back in the 17th for the fight at Five Forks in March, 1865 and was at the surrender of Lee in Appomattox April 9, 1865, after which he returned to Floyd County, Virginia.

            He did receive his pension, although he didn’t live long to enjoy it.  His widow did continue to receive the pension until her death in 1929.


                The following is Joseph Cullen Bishop’s Application for Pension.

(source:  Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. – Pension Applications)

Bishop Pension

Bishop Pension page 1

Bishop Pension page 2

Bishop Pension page 3

Bishop Pension page 4

Bishop Pension page 5

Bishop Pension page 6

Bishop Pension page 7