Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling – 1838-1910: The Wounded Soldier



The records I am reviewing today are those of my second great-grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling/Bowling, born on May 26, 1838, in Chancellorsville, Virginia (about ten miles west of Fredericksburg). In my two previous posts, “Wild Times in “The Wilderness” of Spotsylvania – December 18, 2020, and “The Battle of Wilderness Farm – May 5-7, 1864,” I discussed Larl’s relationship and life with his wife Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Tapp (1834–1905) and the Civil War battles on her family’s land.

This post speaks to Larl’s birthplace, Chancellorsville, and The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. Chancellorsville was named after the family of George Chancellor who operated Dowdall’s Tavern at the corner of the Orange Turnpike and Orange Plank Road (now State Route 3) just east of Wilderness Baptist Church. 

In the mid-19th century,  Dowdall’s Tavern served as the headquarters for Major General Oliver Otis Howard’s troops during the Civil War. A number of Dowdall’s heirs passed away before the house and 325 acres were sold to Lorman Chancellor, who, in turn, passed the property on to his brother, Dr. James Edgar Chancellor. Soon after, it was home to Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor, pastor at Wilderness Church, and his large family. 

As the capital of the newly formed Confederate States of America, Richmond, Virginia, became a constant target of northern armies. Union generals repeatedly tried to capture Richmond by land. The city was also vulnerable by water, as gunboats could navigate the James River to the capital. A small fort seven miles south of the capital held the key to the city’s river defenses. The north referred to it as Fort Darling, but the south called it Drewry’s Bluff. 

At age 23, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling joined the Virginia Confederate Company D, 30th Infantry on April 26, 1861. In June 1861, the 30th Virginia Infantry Regiment was organized at Fredericksburg. The regiment’s military records show that Private Boling might have fought in as many as seven battles from 1862-1864 prior to the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff where he was first injured on May 16, 1864.(See also a full list of the 30th Regiment from May 29, 1861 until the South’s surrender on April 9, 1865)list of battles His brief records, along with his application on May 6, 1888, for U.S. and Confederate pensions show that he was shot in his right leg at his knee severing the surrounding muscles during a charge on Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s brigade at Drewry’s Bluff. That day, he was granted a pension based on his partial disability which affected his ability to farm. 

Also, the U.S., Civil War Soldier Records, and Profiles, 1861-1865 shows Lawrence was injured a second time and hospitalized on September 23, 1864.  Further research suggests this injury occurred amidst the Howlett Line, a critical Confederate earthworks dig during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign of the United States Civil War in May 1864. Specifically, the line stretched across the Bermuda Hundred peninsula from the James River to the Appomattox River. It was named for Dr. Howlett’s House that overlooked the James River at the north end of the line. The Howlett Line became famous as the “Cork in the Bottle” by keeping the 30,000-man force of General Butler’s Army of the James at bay.

On December 16, 1868, 30-year-old Lawrence married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Tapp in Fredericksburg, where they would raise a family of 11 children.

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