Anderson Clay Toms
Featured Character – 1864 Confederate
of the VMI Cadets at the Battle of New Market
of Benjamin West Clinedinst, 1880, Virginia Military Institute
Clay Toms’s father grew up in Perquimans County, North Carolina. By 1840, he owned a farm
slaves. However, he
eventually moved to Norfolk and
merchant. On March
12, 1848, Mary Eliza
Toms gave birth to her second son, Anderson Clay Toms.
Unfortunately, Toms’s father died before the
Civil War. Mary
Eliza Toms and her
children moved to Baltimore
and lived with her married daughter.
With the outbreak of war, the family returned to Virginia.
On April 21, 1864, Mary Eliza Toms enrolled her son as a
at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). During
the Battle of New Market, Toms guarded the institute’s grounds in Lexington,
Virginia. The closure of the
institute in April 1865
prevented him from graduating. After the war, Toms studied
medicine with Dr. J.J. Shannonhouse near Elizabeth City, but he felt
he should provide for his mother and sister, who were left destitute
from the war. Therefore, he left for Galveston, Texas, where he was
involved in the transportation service. Unfortunately, Toms contracted
yellow fever there and died in August 1867 at the age of 19.