From Ohio History Central
Newton Kidwell was a former Confederate soldier who lived in central Ohio after the Civil War but never lost his loyalty to the South.
Kidwell was born on July 4, 1848, in Loudoun County, Virginia. On February 14, 1863, at the age of fourteen, he enlisted in the Eighth Virginia Infantry Regiment. He remained in the Confederate army for the duration of the American Civil War. Kidwell participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was captured during Pickett's Charge. He was held as a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware until December 1863, when he was released. Kidwell returned to active duty with the Eighth Virginia and served with this unit until April 7, 1865, when he was captured once again. He took the oath of allegiance to the United States and was released on April 12, 1865. He returned to his family home at Upperville, Virginia.
Loudoun County, Virginia was devastated at the end of the Civil War. Kidwell, like many of his neighbors, left the South and hoped for more opportunity in the North. This trend had begun even before the Civil War as land availability declined in Virginia and other Southern states. It continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries until well after World War II. Kidwell moved to a farm near Groveport, Ohio, where he became a tenant farmer. He arrived with his new bride, Elinorah Bradfield, whom he had married in 1874. She had also migrated from Virginia after the Civil War. In return for turning over the entire crop to the landowner, Kidwell received one dollar a day in pay and the right to live in a five-room house located on the property. He remained on the farm until old age caused him to move to Columbus, Ohio. There, Kidwell found employment as a landlord and groundskeeper.
Kidwell, like many of the Southerners who migrated to the North after the Civil War, never forgot his Confederate service. Kidwell was the Commander of the Ohio Camp of United Confederate Veterans at the time of his death. In 1919, the Grand Army of the Republic held its fifty-third annual encampment in Columbus. Upset with the large number of Union veterans parading through the street, Kidwell put on his Confederate uniform and marched through the streets, mocking the Union soldiers. Two Northern soldiers "captured" Kidwell and paraded their "prisoner" through the streets as a joke. The veterans then decided to make the former Confederate an honorary member of the Seventy-Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Newton Kidwell died in Columbus on April 19, 1920.
- Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
- Jordan, Philip D. Ohio Comes of Age: 1874-1899. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1943.
- Roseboom, Eugene H. The Civil War Era: 1850-1873. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944.