Major Henry Clinton Wood was Captain during the Civil War. Lieutenant James R.S. Wilhelm was his closest friend, and in his company during the war. The two Scott County natives fought together in the war that pitted brother against brother. The men made an agreement prior to battle. If one should fall, the other would see the remains were returned home.
Wilhelm received a horrible wound at the Battle of McDowell. A bullet went straight through his body and exited out of his back. Physicians were pessimistic. They believed death was imminent. Wood grieved for his friend, but adhered to his promise, and had a coffin made immediately.
One day became two, and then three, but Wilhelm didn’t die. He improved and gave the coffin to another fallen friend. Wilhelm made such an impressive recovery he was soon in battle again, this time in Spotsylvania.
Amazingly, Wilhelm was shot again, and again, the bullet again passed through his body. This wound was even more gruesome than the first. Physicians assured Wood that his friend’s death was imminent. Wood wrote the necessary letters and again had another coffin made for Wilhelm. Time passed and the completed coffin was eventually laid beside Wilhelm’s sickbed. He drifted in and out of consciousness for days, but, just as before, regained his health. He woke and noticed the coffin by his bed. He asked the others in the sickroom what the coffin was doing there. They told him it was his.
Wilhelm told them to take the coffin away as he had no intention of dying. Both men lived long after the war and make their own impact on Scott County history. Major Wood served in politics for years, and despite his horrific wounds, didn’t die until December 8, 1909. James Wilhelm served for a time as the sheriff of Gate City, and became so devastated over the controversial Daniel Dean trial that he left Scott County. His whereabouts after that are unknown even today.