God Alone Knows Which Was Right: One Bath County Families Civil War History

Warm Springs, VA – After many years of work, Rick Armstrong of Hot Springs has a newly published book. It’s called God Alone Knows Which Was Right: The Blue and Gray Terrill Family of Virginia in the Civil War.

“It started in 1970 when I was in high school” says Armstrong. “I became very interested in the local Civil War matters. I had checked out Owen Mortons “Annals of Bath” and it had a brief chapter on the Civil War; and I thought to myself there’s got to be more to it than that.”

He says part of that chapter mentioned the Terrell Family. The Terrill Family lived in Warm Springs. Four of their sons fought in the Civil War and three were killed.

“There unique in the fact that some believe that they’re the only case of general officers being on opposite sides during the war and both killed” says Armstrong.

William Terrill graduated from West Point and remained loyal to the Union. He was killed in Kentucky in 1862. His father disowned him because he felt his son had turned his back on Virginia by not resigning his commission and coming south.
James Terrill graduated from Virginia Military Institute. He was killed at Bethesda Church, Virginia in 1864. Philip Terrill was killed near Winchester, Virginia also in 1864.

“Very little in known about the family in among Civil War historians” says Arnstrong “no one has ever gone into a detailed study of their life.”

Armstrong spent countless hours tracking down family members, going through microfilms and original records at the national archives, the state library and the Virginia historical society. He found the Internet to be a tremendous help in locating documents and much information came out of newspapers from the time. Armstrong says the Terrill’s were his constant companions during the four years it took to write the book.

Armstrong is speaking about his new book at the Old Dairy Heritage Festival on Friday October 8 at 6:30 at the Old Dairy Barn in Warm Springs.

Copies of God Alone Knows Which was Right.: The Blue and Gray Terrill Family of Virginia in the Civil War are available at the bath county historical society and online from McFarland Publishers in Jefferson North Carolina.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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