Thomas Willis Farley was born in Buckingham County, Virginia in 1841. Having three older sisters, he was the first son and youngest child when he lost his mother around six months of age. His father remarried and two more children were born to the family. He is my 2nd great grandfather.
Thomas went off to Hampden-Sidney College to pursue a study for a career in the Presbyterian ministry and was close to completion when he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army on 08 October 1862. The family lore further notes that his entire class of Hampden-Sydney quit school and enlisted together. While there is somewhat well documented story to this effect regarding the “Hampden-Sydney Boys” our Thomas does not appear to have been a part of this group, having enlisted a full year later. (There is another Thomas W. Farley from Buckingham who served in this time frame, so this warrants further review – same Thomas or different? I am convinced the records noted here otherwise belong to our Thomas.)
By this time, Mary Roberts Farley, oldest sister to Thomas, had been married for several years, and lost her husband, Lewis Sutton Adams, in the first battle of Bull Run in Virginia. Just several months at his enlistment, Thomas requests 20 days furlough visit his sister and her family in Georgia. This is the full PDF of those records, and the letter itself is transcribed below.
December 23, 1863
Captain John M. Fisher, Co. B, 25th Batt, Va Vols
I have recently rec’d a letter from my sister, in the state of GA, who is a distressedly bereaved widow occasioned by one of the most bloody battles that has been enacted during the present war, who with five small and unaiding children represent her family affairs as much more distressing than it has been been now for at any future period of experience. And as it has devolved upon me, since the sad demise of her husband, I bestow upon her the attentions of an only brother. And owing to the increased price of necessary articles for living, and the additional difficultly of those connected with the army both for my business and for saving what I have. I conceived it to be indispensible (sic) for the livelihood and comfort of them that I at this time visit her home and as far as my means and ability will extend, assist in promoting the welfare of them all.
Doubtful your knowledge of the faithful and unintermittent (sic) manner in which for fifteen months I have performed every duty will award me more your most favorable approval.
And believing this extended appeal to be not improper I respectfully ask for a furlough of twenty (20) days for the above purpose.
I am very respectfully your svt,
Private Tho W Farley, Co R 25th Reg
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The furlough began 01 January 1864 and lasted through 20 January. Thomas was later captured by the Union forces and was a prisoner of war for several months. He was pardoned in 1865, and by 1866 had moved to the Fayette County area and married Cynthia Montgomery Rigg, where together they raised many children.