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Maj. Benjamin W. Leigh (C.S.A)

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by eBrowne, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    I was looking at Gettysburg Daily where there was posted a part of the Elliott burial map. It showed Leigh (C.S.A) who was killed on Culp's Hill originally buried with Union soldiers behind the Union lines. Are there any primary accounts of his body being moved from the Confederate lines where he fell to this spot? On findagrave.com, he is listed as now being buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery under "Listed as "B. W. Laigh." Anyone know that burial spot? Is he buried there as C.S.A. ?
     

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  3. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    From the Blog of the Gettysburg National Military Park
    "[* UPDATE June 27, 2016: Our friends at Richmond National Battlefield Park recently came across an 1866 Richmond newspaper article describing the funeral arrangements for Major Benjamin W. Leigh in Richmond. His remains were disinterred in the national cemetery, properly identified, and sent with proper ceremony to Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond. The initial decision to move the Confederate officer’s remains from his field grave to the national cemetery- marked on the burial roll as “B.W. Laigh”- remains a mystery.]"
     
  4. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    On the late morning of July 3, a solitary figure appeared on horseback coming up the draw behind soldiers of the 4th Virginia who were trapped behind a ledge of rocks just in front of the Federal works, at that point and time held by the 149th New York and 122nd New York. It was Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh, who was the Acting Adjutant General on Maj. Gen. Ed Johnson's staff. Perhaps Leigh was delivering an order from Johnson, or else had decided to intervene after spotting a flag of surrender that one of the soldiers had prematurely hoisted. In either case, the major never had a chance to deliver his message. As he rode into an open space, a hail of gunfire erupted from the Federal trenches. As his horse fell, thrashing about, Leigh was able to jump free, but he managed only a few more steps before being riddled by six minie balls that brought a quick death. The next day, soldiers of the 7th Ohio visited his lifeless body and retrieved his sword, revolvers, watch, and $85 in gold. Leigh also unwisely carried papers that revealed information about the Confederate troops engaged. In recognition of his bravery, Major Leigh was buried close to the graves of fallen Union soldiers of the Second Division, Twelfth Corps. This generous gesture likely had unintended consequences. A month or two after the battle, Leigh's grave was marked by Rev. J. R. Warner of Gettysburg, but apparently his CSA affiliation was not indicated, or was overlooked, or had worn away on the original wooden headboard. So it is not surprising that he was initially interred with the Federal dead in Gettysburg's National Cemetery, under a marker labeled “B. W. Laigh.” If we accept the newspaper article as being accurate, his remains went to Richmond in 1866. I need to get over to the Shockoe Hill Cemetery to see if I can locate it.

    Sources include:
    - John W. Geary, OR, part 1, p. 830
    - Diary of M. S. Schroyer, http://www.fruithills.com/civilwardiary.htm
    - Lawrence Wilson, Robinson Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Mss 1R5685c
    - George S. Greene, OR, part 1, p. 858
    - Charles P. Horton, The Bachelder Papers, 1:297
    - Gregory A. Coco, Gettysburg’s Confederate Dead (Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 2003).
     
  5. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    His grave can be found on findagrave.com
     
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  6. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    At Gettysburg, his stone is in the Unknown section. From the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia

    "A unique case is that of Confederate Major Benjamin
    Watkins Leigh, who served as Adjutant General on the
    staff of Confederate General Edward Johnson. Leigh is
    buried in the "Unknown" section of the cemetery as "B.
    Laigh." (Leigh is buried in the "Unknown" section because
    even though he was identified by name, his unit designation
    obviously remained mystery.) It seems that G.H. Byrd,
    of Baltimore, paid John R. Warner to specifically bury the
    identified remains of Major Watkins in August of 1863. He
    was buried near fifteen Union soldiers, and it is possible
    that because he was a staff officer and had no regimental
    designation, he was later mistaken for one of the nearby
    Federals and was mistakenly reburied with them in the
    Soldiers’ National Cemetery."
     
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  7. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    In the archives of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond is a letter written to Major Leigh by Chapman Johnson Leigh, his brother. The letter is dated 11 July 1863, from Richmond, eight days after the death of Major Leigh, but word of his death had not yet reached the family. Chapman writes that he was delighted to have received previous letters following major battles, including a letter Major Leigh wrote of the recent fight at Winchester, which must have been written on or soon after June 18, 1863, and which Chapman received three days later. Chapman mentions their other brother, William, along with Jinny and Annie, who may have been their sisters or close relatives. Having recently learned details of the great battle at Gettysburg, Chapman writes that the "loss of valuable lives is frightful ... enough to make the heart sick. It is my prayer to God that you are safe." The Leigh family would very soon learn the awful truth.
     
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  8. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

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    Taken today from Shockoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond.

    Inscription: In Memory of Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh, Jr., born January 18, 1831
    Obverse: Died on the field of Gettysburg July 3, 1863

    His mother Julia died six weeks prior to Gettysburg, on April 15, 1863, per the adjacent monument.

    IMG_1481.JPG IMG_1480.JPG ield of Gettysburg July 3, 1863


    IMG_1481.JPG
     
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  9. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    Thanks for posting those great pictures. Maj. Leigh's body had not been moved to its spot as shown on the Elliott burial map until late on the 4th or later for John Merrell of Battery H 1st Ohio in his diary stated on July 4, "I saw Ewell's Adjutant General Leight. He and his horse both lay close together. I got a piece of his coat. He was a very fine looking man."
    Unfortunately on the Blog of the Gettysburg National Military Park, it doesn't reference the date of the Richmond paper that states that his body was removed to Shockoe Hill Cemetery.
     
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  10. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    Does anyone have a picture they want to post of the "grave" marker in the Gettysburg National Cemetery for Maj. Leigh?
    "Unknown" section of the cemetery as "B. Laigh."
     
  11. eBrowne

    eBrowne Private

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    "Struck with admiration at his gallantry, we, after the conclusion of the action, gave him, by Gen. Greene's orders, a soldier's burial in rear of our line, and near the graves of our own officers and men." "Letter of Capt. Charles P. Horton, Boston, Jan. 23d, 1867," see Bachelder Papers, vol. 1, p. 297. Harry Pfanz in Gettysburg-Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill seems to reference this as Horton to Bachelder, 23 Jan. 1887, BP.
    Exactly when the body was moved and buried under the orders of Gen. Greene is unclear but it would be at some point after Merrell of Battery H 1st Ohio saw Leigh's body and horse together on the 4th.
     
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  12. Irregular

    Irregular Cadet

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    I visited this spot yesterday. The Shockoe Hill Cemetery brochure calls Leigh's marker a cenotaph (memorial marker), suggesting he remains among the G'burg unknown.

    As an aside, very nearby are two headstones for the offspring of Rooney Lee. Robert E. Lee III, Lee's first grandchild died on 30 June 1862 at the age of 2, next to him is the remains of Charlotte Carter Lee, who died at 7 weeks of age on 6 December 1862.

    1862 was obviously a year of great triumphs and great personal tragedy for Gen. Lee. I attempted to include images of these headstones but for some reason was blocked from doing so.
     
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