Saturday, November 28, 2015

One man's quest to discover story of Confederate Colonel Samuel Lumpkin, who was mortally wounded at Gettysburg

44th Georgia Colonel Samuel Lumpkin suffered a severe leg wound at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.
Richard Clem, a longtime Civil War relic hunter from Hagerstown, Md., is a gifted historian and researcher. And he's also no stranger to this blog, having written pieces posted here, here and here. In this post, Clem recounts his quest to document the life of 44th Georgia Colonel Samuel Lumpkin, who was mortally wounded at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. Sources and notes for this post may be found here.

By Richard Clem

Four years following the War Between the States, Maryland Governor Oden Bowie (1869 – 1872) appropriated $5,000 for a decent burial of incalculable number of  Rebel bodies still barely covered throughout Washington County. The governor’s compassionate act eventually led to the establishment of the Washington Confederate Cemetery. The three-acre site is located within the 110- acre interior of Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown – a “cemetery within a cemetery.” Resting off duty for eternity in the hallowed ground are the remains of 2,138 unknown and 346 known Southern soldiers from the Maryland Campaign of 1862. These honored dead are mostly from the battles of South Mountain and Antietam -- or “Sharpsburg,” as folks in the South still call it. (1).

Marker in Washington Cemetery
 in Hagerstown, Md.
(Photo: Richard Clem)
A large cast-bronze plaque at the head of the Rebel burial grounds lists names and gives approximate location of the known dead. However, only two Confederate officers have individual ground-level gravestones: Colonel. Isaac E. Avery of North Carolina and Colonel. Samuel P. Lumpkin from Georgia. Colonel Avery’s stone was dedicated on Nov. 3, 2007. (2)

The legacy of Sam Lumpkin’s began in the spring 1984, when the author spoke to a trustee of Rose Hill Cemetery. Knowing my interest in the Civil War, he pointed to the Confederate area and asked, “Do you know that one of those soldiers in there has his own marker?” The only problem was he couldn’t remember where the stone was located or anything engraved on it. He went on to explain, “I haven’t seen it in years and it's probably growed over by now with grass.” (3)

So, on a hot July morning in 1984, equipped only with curiosity, I started searching the recently-mowed Washington Cemetery, determined to find the long-lost Rebel’s grave. Close to a half-hour passed when walking slowly up a slight grade, the morning sun reflected off something in the still dew-covered grass. Wiping perspiration from my blurred vision, the square corner of a flat stone came into view. This was it! Immediately, the work of ripping sod from the rectangular marker with bare hands began. In a matter of seconds, letters appeared: “COL. S. E. LUMKINS [sic], 44TH GEORGIE [sic] VOLS., DIED SEPT. 18TH 1863, AGED 29 YEARS” (4)

The first thing that caught my attention was the date -- “Sept 18th, 1863.” The battles at South Mountain and Antietam were fought in September 1862, one year earlier. Could the colonel from Georgia have been killed at Gettysburg, some 40 miles north of Hagerstown? Did his relatives know where he was buried? Who furnished or paid for the granite stone? Before Colonel Avery’s tombstone was installed, Lumpkin’s was the only one in Washington Confederate Cemetery. After decades of research to bring to life the Southern officer, the following account was written: (5)

Colonel Samuel Lumpkin's gravestone in Washington Cemetery in Hagerstown, Md.
His last name and regiment are misspelled on the marker.

(Photo: Ricard Clem)
Samuel Pittman Lumpkin was born Dec. 5, 1833, son of William and Susannah Edwards Lumpkin. William’s first marriage to Patsy Mickelborough produced five children. Patsy died from an unknown cause in 1814. William’s second wife, (married June 6, 1815), Susannah Edwards, gave birth to 16 children -- next to youngest being Samuel P. Lumpkin. Bill Lumpkin had four sons who gave their lives fighting for the Confederate’s noble cause. (6)

Sam’s father served in the Georgia House of Representatives and as trustee of Mercer University. The soldier from Georgia also had two cousins who were prominent in state politics and law in the 19th century. First, was Joseph Henry Lumpkin, the first Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, serving from 1845-1867. Joseph was also a founder of the Lumpkin Law School, a forerunner of the University of Georgia. Another cousin, a brother to Joseph, Wilson Lumpkin, served as Governor of Georgia between 1831-1835. Wilson’s daughter, Martha Lumpkin Compton, (1827-1917), had a small town in the Peach State named in her honor; however, the name “Marthasville” didn’t stick. Three years later, in 1843,  the little-known community was renamed “Atlanta.” Yes, the Confederate buried in Hagerstown came from a respected, prestigious family that helped shape early history of the Old South. But questions still remained: Was Colonel. Lumpkin killed during the War Between the States and why were his remains interred in Hagerstown instead of being returned to Georgia? (7)

Little is known of Samuel Lumpkin’s formative years or education, but around the age of 20, with an ambition of becoming a doctor, he enrolled in Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. After graduating in 1855, he returned to Georgia, setting up a medical practice in Watkinsville. Although Sam was born in Oglethorpe County, an 1860 census shows him living in Clarke County with John Calvin Johnson, wife Matilda, and two sons, James and John. The young physician inherited part of his father’s estate, but it's believed the Johnsons financially helped with his college education and provided him a home. Perhaps Sam’s relocation became necessary due to the number of brothers and sisters at home and there simply wasn’t enough room at the supper table. (8)

Doctor Sam must have thought the world of Matilda Johnson. On March 1, 1862, he appointed John Calvin Johnson, Clerk of Court for Clarke County, as executor of his last will and testament, leaving Matilda his entire estate. The registered will contained words of great praise and fondness for the 52-year-old woman, “For she has been to me a mother for several years past, both in affection and in every kindness that I could ask or she could anticipate, and because I believe if I were to die or be reduced to helpless suffering, she of all others would mostly deeply deplore my loss or be most willing to relieve my necessities.” Three days after signing the will on March 4, 1862, and with a War of Yankee Aggression rapidly expanding, the Clarke County physician enlisted to defend his beloved South from Northern invaders. (9)

Entering the service at Watkinsville, Lumpkin became captain of Company C, 44th Regiment, Georgia Volunteers. Company C consisted mostly of a militia unit “Johnson Guards,” named in honor of Lumpkin’s good friend, John Calvin Johnson. On April 4, the 44th Georgia was ordered to Goldsboro, N.C. Two months later, on May 27, 1862, the newly formed regiment headed north to defend the Confederate capital in Richmond, Sam left behind forever a lucrative medical practice, the Johnsons and a girl he was engaged to marry. It seems the doctor from Georgia was as committed to duty as a professor Thomas J. Jackson from Virginia, who wrote, “Through life let your principal object be the discharge of duty.” (10)

In spring 1862, Gen. George B. McClellan launched his Peninsula Campaign with intentions of bringing the war to a quick end by capturing Richmond. In the “Seven Day’s Fighting,” while taking a defensive stand against Union infantry at Mechanicsville, (June 26th) the 44th Georgia suffered tremendously. Total loss of Federal forces engaged was 361 while the 44th alone reported 335 casualties. Sam Lumpkin was promoted to lieutenant-colonel June 28, 1862. On July 1, 1862, only three days after moving up in rank, he was wounded at Malvern Hill. The injury wasn’t serious, resulting in a full recovery. Ironically, exactly one year to the very day -- July 1, 1863 -- Lumpkin would receive another wound. The only difference – this wound would prove to be fatal. The 44th Gerogia Infantry fought in every major engagement of the Army of Northern Virginia for the remainder of 1862, including Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. (11)

               Approximate area where Lumpkin's 44th Georgia attacked at Malvern Hill.

Leading the regiment at Chancellorsville – May 3, 1863 – Lumpkin was “mentioned for gallantry.” For this courageous conduct, he received the rank of full colonel in command of the 44th Georgia Infantry. Although many historians consider Chancellorsville the South’s greatest victory, it resulted in the Confederacy’s greatest personal loss of the war when Gen. Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men. (12)

Confident from the recent, brilliant victory at Chancellorsville, the Confederacy decided to become the aggressor, sidestepping the Union army defending Washington and once more carrying the war into Northern territory. In Pennsylvania – July 1, 1863 – General Robert E. Lee’s invading Army of Northern Virginia by chance encountered the newly appointed Major General George G. Meade’s numerically superior Army of the Potomac at a little town called Gettysburg. (13)

At the start of the Gettysburg Campaign, the 44th Georgia was attached to Dole’s Brigade (4th Georgia, 12th Georgia, 21st Georgia), Rodes’ Division, Ewell’s Corps. A brigade member recalled, “Continuing the march on the 25th we reached Carlisle on the 27th, and our brigade bivouacked on the campus of Dickinson College. We were within twenty miles of Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.” Ewell’s Corps received orders on June 30th to march immediately southward toward Cashtown to link up with Longstreet’s Corps. A major, imminent engagement at Gettysburg was about to make the printed pages of American history. (14)

Ewell’s forces quick-marched toward the sound of the guns and pending battlefield. A soldier in the gray columns remembered the morning of July 1, “Resuming the march the next morning we arrived at Middletown, when the head of the column was turned towards Gettysburg. When the brigade was in about seven miles of the place, the roar of cannon in front revealed to us the presence of the enemy.” Doles’ Brigade approached the smoking battlefield from the north along the Carlisle Pike (east of Oak Hill), just west of present Barlow’s Knoll. (15)

Colonel Samuel Lumpkin may have had his leg amputated at David Schriver's farm at Gettysburg.
(Photo: Richard Clem)

In his official Gettysburg report, Brigadier General George P. Doles noted, “The enemy’s cavalry appearing in force in front and on our left flank, skirmishers from the command were ordered to dislodge them.” Around 3:30 P.M., Southern infantry had driven Federal cavalry from the field, but found strong opposition between them and Gettysburg. Before Early’s Division arrived, Doles’ Brigade of 1,300 faced two enemy divisions (Howard’s Union XI Corps) of 5,500. With renewed hope, Doles wrote, “The brigade of Gen. Gordon of Maj.-Gen. Early’s Division, having made junction with our left, we moved forward to the attack.” With the combination of Doles and John B. Gordon’s Brigade (all Georgia) forcing the assault, the entire Federal defenses north of Gettysburg gave way. (16)

At Gettysburg, Colonel Lumpkin served in
the brigade of General George Doles.
Major William H. Peebles of the 44th Georgia described the action on the northern edge of town: “Had not our men been so nearly exhausted, we should doubtless have captured the greatest portion of the artillery and men; but only a few could not flee so rapidly as the main body fell into our hands. We then reformed and marching into the town of Gettysburg, the routed and fleeing enemy betaking himself to the hills south of the town.” Pressing on heels of the adversary, a retreat became a rout. The 44th Georgia was the first Confederate unit to enter Gettysburg – unfortunately, its courageous colonel was missing. Sam Lumpkin had fallen and was lying somewhere on the field among bloody humanity and battle debris. An officer in Doles’ Brigade wrote after the war, “While pursuing the routed Eleventh Corps on July 1 the brigade had the unpleasant experience of being mistaken for Union troops and were fired upon by our own artillery of which killed and wounded several men.” So, it's not impossible that Lumpkin may have been struck down by his own artillery. General Doles also reported the same incident of “friendly fire.” (17)

An official casualty list of Gettysburg wounded included: “Lumpkin, Samuel P. – Colonel 44th Regiment, Georgia Infantry – Wounded in leg – necessitating amputation and captured at Gettysburg, Pa. – July 1, 1863. Remarks: S.P. Lumpkin – Col. 44th Ga., Wounded 6 P.M., lost left leg.” (18)

Although Lumpkin’s leg may have been amputated on the field of battle, it's plausible to think Dr. Abner E. McGarity, surgeon of the 44th, performed the brutal operation at the Schriver farm. The wounded of Doles’ Brigade were hospitalized at David Schriver’s 150-acre farm located 2 ½ miles northwest of Gettysburg along the Mummasburg Pike. (19)

Doles held the Georgia officer in high esteem. “In the action of July 1st, Colonel Lumpkin fell, severely wounded (leg since amputated) while gallantly leading his regiment in a charge against the enemy,” he wrote. A veteran of the 44th receiving the news of his respected leader lamented, “There was no better, braver or cooler officer in the army than Colonel Lumpkin. Always at the front and always ready for duty, he had the confidence of his superior officers and the men he commanded.” The battle at Gettysburg continued two more days as a Confederate private observed, “There was an awful fight for three days. I don’t think we gained anything there.” (20)

On Independence Day – July 4, 1863 – the cannon finally fell silent at the crossroads community of 2,000 residents in Pennsylvania; the Confederate invasion of the North had been stopped. Now, in the path of the retreating Rebel army, Washington County, Md. waited in anxiety . . . and fear. After several days under record-setting rain, Lee’s embattled forces began filtering through Hagerstown and surrounding areas. By the thousands they come – some walking, some on horseback, some in wagons . . . all spattered with mud and blood. (21)

Standing on a high elevation at the eastern edge of Hagerstown was the Kee-Mar College. Established in 1851, the seminary for young ladies was converted into an improvised hospital. Other buildings in town were used as both Union and Confederate hospitals while the seminary was strictly Confederate. It was in this ladies seminary the incapacitated colonel would end his earthly trials.  (22)

Hagerstown Female Seminary,  circa 1860s.
Colonel Samuel Lumpkin died here as

 a  POW in September 1863.
(Image: Washington County Historical Society)
Some historians believe Colonel Lumpkin was transported from Gettysburg to Williamsport by Gen. John Imboden’s 17-mile long wagon train of  Confederate wounded. However, the wounded of Doles’ Brigade did not travel to Williamsport by Imboden’s “train of misery” – but by a shorter route. The greatest part of Lee’s army left Gettysburg to the east passing through Fairfield, Monterey Pass, and after crossing into Maryland, moved slowly down the Leitersburg Pike into Hagerstown. Ewell’s Corps, acting as rear guard for the Army of Northern Virginia, camped north and east of Hagerstown. At this time, the mangled, battle-torn colonel was carried inside the seminary hospital. Leaving town, Ewell’s legions trudged on to Williamsport, where on the night of July 14, they crossed the swollen Potomac River to the safety of Virginia soil. (23)

A letter dated “December 5, 1863,” mailed from 44th Georgia headquarters camped at Morton’s Ford, Va., gives solid evidence the wounded Lumpkin was left at Hagerstown – not Williamsport. The correspondence was sent to John Calvin Johnson, the executor of Sam Lumpkin’s estate, “Sir, I was sent from Gettysburg, Pa. in charge of the wounded of Doles’ Brig. and when we reached Hagerstown, I thought it advisable to leave Col. S.P. Lumpkin & Capt. Haygood. I then loaned Col. L. Fifty Dollars in the presence of Pvt. Montgomery whom I left as a nurse for him. Owing to the hurry of the occasion I took no showing for it.”

It is apparent the writer, Dr. Abner McGarity, is attempting to collect $50 he had loaned Colonel Lumpkin in Hagerstown – almost six months earlier. The communiqué continued, “Capt. Neary of our Regt. informs me that you are settling the Col’s business and that you have authorized him to sell his horse. The Capt. will have a surplus of the Col’s funds on hand and proposes to settle the fifty-dollars with me in the event that you will authorize him to do so. You will please do so by letter and I will give him my receipt.”

The note of request is signed, “Very Respectfully, A.E. McGarity, Surgeon 44th Ga.” This is the same Abner E. McGarity who was thought to have amputated Lumpkin’s leg at Gettysburg and nowhere does he mention “Williamsport” as to where the wounded colonel was taken. Dr. McGarity ended his message to Johnson with a post-script: “Capt. N. requested me to say to you that he had not sold Col. L’s horse yet but thought he would soon. A.E.M.” (24)

During the Gettysburg Campaign, Abner Embry McGarity served as assistant surgeon for the 44th Ga. According to comrades in the 44th, Dr. McGarity was, “… a good man, treated the sick and wounded under his charge humanely and kindly.” In the fall 1864, McGarity was transferred to the 61st Alabama Infantry. Capt. William J. Neary mentions that McGarity was quartermaster for the 44th Ga. and “…had the respect of all the officers and men of the Forty-fourth Georgia Regiment.” Also noted in the correspondence, Pvt. Montgomery was captured at Hagerstown, and exchanged later in 1863. He surrendered at Appomattox and was reported living after the war “somewhere in the West.” (25)

The Captain Haygood in McGarity’s writing was Capt. William B. Haygood, a member of Company C, 44th Georgia Regiment. Haygood lost an arm at Gettysburg and was captured at Hagerstown along with Colonel Lumpkin. He remained in prison for the duration of the war and died at an unknown date in DeKalb County, Ga. (26).

Colonel Samuel Pittman Lumpkin fought his final battle in September 1863 at the seminary hospital in Hagerstown and then slowly “crossed over the river.” The amputation, extreme loss of blood and typhoid fever all took their toll on the 29-year-old Rebel warrior. (27)

The mutilated, battle-scarred body was placed in the old Presbyterian Church graveyard on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown. Standing a few doors south of Washington County Free Library, the Presbyterian Church is known today as the Fundamental Baptist Church.

       Lumpkin's remains were originally buried at the Presbyterian Church cemetery on
     South Potomac Street in Hagerstown, Md. It's now the Fundamental Baptist Church.

In postwar years, a niece of Lumpkin’s wrote, “My father told me about my Uncle Samuel Lumpkin, and I have met one or two of his old comrades in arms. All bore testimony to his personal charm. He was a physician but choose rather to go into the regular army than as a surgeon. He was engaged to be married at the time of his death, and the family sent his personal belongings to the girl, with the exception of a small keepsake apiece. Grandfather had an embroidered vest of his with a small gold pin shaped like a sword and I remembered seeing the pin. It was stolen we thought.” (29)

In 1913, 48 years after the war, the Presbyterians planned to expand their church building. The new construction required removal of the graveyard adjacent to the sanctuary. More than likely, Lumpkin’s grave in the church cemetery had a marker of some sort, but unfortunately all stones were discarded or destroyed during the building project. Some marble tombstones were even laid face-down and used as a walk. In May 1913, the colonel’s skeletal remains were removed from the Presbyterian graveyard and appropriately re-interred in the Washington Confederate Cemetery several blocks below the church on South Potomac Street. As fate would have it, 1913 was the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and thousands of veterans returned for a reunion and to camp on the old battlefield – the same year Colonel Lumpkin would find his final bivouac. Other remains were removed at this time from the church graveyard and re-interred in Rose Hill and other cemeteries in the Hagerstown area. (30)

Official dedication of the Washington Cemetery was held June 12, 1877. Guest speaker for the solemn occasion was Confederate Maj-Gen. Fitzhugh Lee – nephew of Gen. Robert E. Lee. On Sept. 3, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, general and former President of the United States, re-dedicated the hallowed Confederate burial ground. Eisenhower traveled from his farm at Gettysburg to Hagerstown in an army helicopter. Undoubtedly, when “Ike” gave his re-dedication speech in 1961, Lumpkin’s gravestone was covered by a layer of sod and drew no attention. (31)

Former president Dwight Eisenhower attended the re-dedication ceremony at
 Washington Cemetery in Hagerstown, Md., on Sept. 3, 1961.

An early Board of Trustees for the Confederate cemetery paid by check – June 20, 1913 -- $3.25 to Rose Hill Cemetery for “reinterring body of Col. Lumpkins.” The following year -- Oct. 21, 1914 -- the manufacturing firm of C.E. Darner was paid $12 for providing and engraving the marble gravestone. A final cancelled check for $5 drawn on the Hagerstown Bank – Jan. 16, 1915 – shows the purchase of “flowers” for the grave to local florist, Henry A. Bester & Sons. (32)

A distant nephew of the colonel wrote an article titled “An Old Time Georgia Christmas.” The true account published in 1906 in Columbia, S.C., is based on the childhood plantation home of Samuel Lumpkin and how Christmas was celebrated at the time of the War Between the States. The writer remembered and mentions Colonel Lumpkin in the narrative, “Uncle Sam was as gentle as a woman, and as I know now, the sweetest one of the family. Uncle Sam died at Gettysburg.” (33)

Neither the Johnson nor Lumpkin families down in Georgia had any way of knowing the colonel was buried in Hagerstown. The only word they had received was he had “lost a leg at Gettysburg” and assumed he was dead. But far more than Colonel. Sam’s shattered leg was left behind in Pennsylvania. Buried deep in the blood-soaked fields of Gettysburg rested the Southern States last hope of becoming an independent nation. The seemingly endless struggle of civil war would continue two more costly years as dark days of despair and defeat increased for the Sons of the South. The time was drawing near when their ragged yet sacred banners of Stars & Bars would be folded with reluctance and patriotic pride . . . forever. (34).

(For notes and sources for this post, go here.)

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