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General Robert E. Lee’s Fifer

Most recently I found a newspaper clipping that identified my 3rd Great-Grandfather as the fifer for General Robert E. Lee. Now, that’s an interesting tidbit to bring up at a dinner party. Further research illustrated that Enoch Yerkey was in fact the General’s chief musician.

Enoch's family immigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany in the 1600’s and thus had a deeply rooted heritage on American soil. He was a farmer by trade, but a musician for his entertainment. Enoch’s grandfather served in the Montgomery County, PA militia during the Revolutionary War and thus Enoch felt a deep sense of doing the right thing and standing to be counted.  He joined the local militia in Harrison County, WV (then Virginia) before the civil war and in 1862 enlisted in Co. B of the 17th Virginia Cavalry at the ripe age of 30. Company B was called “Harrison’s Cavalry” and was made up of local men from Enoch’s town. By 1863, he was horseless and thus transferred to the infantry. His new assignment was another local company, Co. C, 31st Virginia Infantry. He was assigned as the company fifer during the Gettysburg campaign and later was selected as the chief musician and fifer for General Robert E. Lee.

Enoch had no ill will towards the north and he wasn’t a great defender of lost causes. He was merely an American and as such participated in the union veteran reunions of the Clarksburg Grand Army of the Republic (Custer Post) several times, playing his fife at the head of the marching and aged veterans. He was a true testament of the resilience of this generation to ricochet from defeat and become part of change with harmony for the betterment of the whole. Don’t be bitter, adapt, and overcome, to make a difference, for oneself, as well as those around you.

That’s my 3rd Great-grandfather!


Veteran Fife Reunion - Early 1900's


The Custer Post was in existence from 1882-1908. Enoch was confirmed as being with them during 1897 and he died in 1903.

 This photo is a mix of both Confederate and Union Veterans.