Medal Fla. man found as child has local ties

Posted: July 30, 2013

The Winchester Star

This bronze medal was made for a group of men, mostly from Clarke County, who served in Company D, 6th Virginia Cavalry, Army of Northern Virginia.
This photograph was taken at a reunion of Company D. According to the minute book, the first reunion of the group was held on Aug. 30, 1884, at the home of member Robert Owen Allen, a hero of the big cavalry battle at Brandy Station.

BERRYVILLE — Rick Wobbe is not just a collector, he’s a keeper.

At age 12, the Naples, Fla., resident — now 58 — found a medallion at a yard sale near his then home in Edgewater, Md.

The medallion, which he thought was copper, had names on the back such as Trevillans, 1st Manassas, Yellow Tavern and Brandy Station.

“I had no clue what they meant,” Wobbe said.

It took him 46 years to find out.

At the time he found it, he said, he was interested in roller coasters and thought the names on the medal might be rides.

After all, the front of the medal carried the word “Survivors.”

Wobbe showed the medallion to his dad, who thought it might have something to do with the Civil War. He offered to take it to Bolling Air Force Base, where he worked, to show to someone who was a Civil War buff.

Wobbe received an offer of a trade, for a number of trinkets such as minie balls and cannon shells.

Since someone else wanted it, Wobbe was more determined to hold on to it.

Over the years, he made sporadic attempts to identify the medal.

He learned that the words on the back identified Civil War battles.

But he didn’t find out what the medal was until a variety of circumstances put him in touch this year with Mary Morris, archivist at the Clarke County Historical Association.

Morris said the medal, actually bronze, was struck for a group of men, mostly from Clarke County, who served in Company D, 6th Virginia Cavalry, Army of Northern Virginia, under Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and cavalry legend Gen. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart.

After the war, when a number of Confederate army veterans formed “camps” — basically fraternal organizations to support each other — Clarke County members of Company D did the same.

“I have the minute book,” said Morris, along with another example of the commemorative medal.

According to the book, the first reunion of Company D was held on Aug. 30, 1884, at the home of member Robert Owen Allen, a hero of the big cavalry battle at Brandy Station.

At the eighth reunion, Aug. 12, 1891, Morris said the group, about 31 strong, voted to have a medal struck, which included the names of the battles they fought in.

The minute book records that “one of the pleasant incidents of the day was the renewal of our acquaintance with our old battle flag.”

It had been missing for 26 years, but the president of the organization had tracked it down. The book does not record where. Later, the flag was sent to “Battle Abbey” in Richmond — the neoclassical structure that houses the library and headquarters of the Virginia Historical Society.

The minute book also records the speech of the guests at each reunion, which gives a good picture of the battles that Company D took part in.

“The last meeting in the book we have is the 34th, held on Aug. 21, 1918,” Morris said.

The members were dying off, she said, and it was apparently more practical to merge with other veterans’ camps than keep up their own separate organization.

The minute book was given to the Clarke County Historical Association in 1939, a year after it organized. There’s no information on who donated it to the CCHA, Morris said.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com