A Salute To Our Service, Fire & Police Personnel - October 2019
William W. Berkley was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, the son of Garland A. and Catharine F. Clark Berkley. He was raised on the family farm along with eleven brothers and sisters. Little is known of his early formal education, but most assuredly he was well indoctrinated in the management and running of the family farm.
No doubt, during the decade of the 1850's, William and his family followed the events of the day as they headed for the ultimate conflict to erupt in 1861 in South Carolina. William, Charles and Pubius all volunteered for service on the side of the Confederacy. William joined the infantry and his brothers the cavalry.
The 56th. Regiment, Virginia Infantry completed its' organization in September of 1861, the men having been recruited from Louisa, Mecklenburg, Buckingham, Nelson and Charlotte counties. William enlisted at Reese's Church, Charlotte County on 15 June 1861 for a period of one year. William was described as being: Complexion - Dark, Hair - Light, Eyes - Brown and Height - 5ft. 3in.
The 56th. Regiment was very active and participated in numerous battles and skirmishes from its' formation until the surrender at Appomattox Court House in April, 1865. They were present at the Seven Days Battles, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Gettysburg, often suffering great loss of lives. Only 3 officers and 26 men were present at the surrender on April 9th. William was captured at Amelia Court House on 5 April 1865 and sent to the POW camp at Fort Lookout, MD.
After almost four years of war, on 23 June 1865, William took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States at Fort Lookout, Maryland. He was subsequently released to return home. William returned to his native Virginia and started to rebuild his life. William married Samantha Carolyn Holt about 1870 and together they began farming in nearby Appomattox County. Samantha passed away in 1898 and William remarried and lived the remainder of his life in Charlotte. He passed away on 23 August 1924 and was buried in the cemetery of Bethel Baptist Church in Phenix, Charlotte County.