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

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eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
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. ?
 

eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
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.]"
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
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).
 
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eBrowne

Private
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Jan 12, 2016
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."
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
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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Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
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
 

eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
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.
 

eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
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."
 
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eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
"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.
 

Irregular

Cadet
Joined
Mar 6, 2016
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.
 

White Flint Bill

Sergeant
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Oct 9, 2017
Location
Southern Virginia
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eBrowne

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Jan 12, 2016
His photo. http://digital.vahistorical.org/object/CMLS0985.13.02120

The following description is from their web site. I put in blue, the words as I read it. Perhaps others have other transcription suggestions.

Description: Carte-de-Visite of a bust portrait of Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh in uniform. Inscription on front: Major Benj. Watkins Leigh. Killed at Gettysburg. Inscription on back: Benjamin Watkins, son of Julia Wickham and Benjamin Watkins Leigh born in Richmond Jan. 18' 1831 killed at Gettysburg July 3rd 1863. He had dashed forward to rally [some][retreating] troops, up to a breastwork-where both horse and man were killed instantly. Their bodies were found [together] the next day by a clergyman-who buried the officer and informed his family of Major Leighs death. He said that his attention was attracted to the officer's splendid figure and face; Julia P. Wickham; B W Leigh son of Senator B W Leigh and brother of Mrs. Conway [Robinson]

Edited by E_just_E, moderator: The use of red is reserved for moderators, edited to blue to alleviate confusion.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
From the Library of Virginia, James Peters Williams Papers, letter to his Aunt Mary, from "Near Culpeper C. House, June 9th, 1863." Corporal Williams was a member of Capt. McCarthy's First Richmond Howitzers at Gettysburg.

Dear Aunt Mary,

... I wrote Nannie [James' sister] a long letter just before we marched ... enclosed photograph of Cousin Wattie Leigh which he gave me to send her. He is Genl Johnson's Adjutant Genl and I went to see him a few days ago ... Your affectionate, James P. Williams
 

Hawkeye Brehm

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 19, 2017
Location
Myrtle Beach, SC
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).
Thanks for your well-sourced response!
 
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Samwisep86

Corporal
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
From a letter I transcribed from the B W Leigh Papers at VHS:

Benjamin W. Leigh to Brother Chapman J. Leigh, June 4, 1863.

"Hd Qr’s Johnson’s Division,

4th June 1863.



My dear brother,

I seize a brief opportunity of wri-

ting a few lines to you.

Our division has received orders

to march to-night at 2 o’clock.

We proceed via Spottsylvania C. H.

towards Culpepper Court House.

I have been exceedingly busy all

day in issuing the necessary orders

and making other arrangements for

the expedition.

I have been fortunate enough to

borrow a horse for the occasion.

Capt. Cringan lent it to me.

By the way the Government

owes me for my horse etc. I have

an appraisement of him for $450

----pg2----

amongst my papers. If anything

happens to me before I obtain

the money, and you cannot find

the paper, --which is in my port-

folio, -there are a large number

of officers in the Battalion and

in Jones’ Brigade who would

testify that he was worth much

more. Amongst them are Major

Oscar White, 48th Va., Surgeon

Malcolm N. Fleming, 21st

Virginia, Lieut. C. Alexander,

and others whom they would

name.

We seem to be on the eve

of a grand expedition. God

grant it success.

I was in hopes of being able

to go to see Helen so as to be

with her during her approach-

ing confinement; but under

-----pg3---

present circumstances it is, of

course, out of the question.

Farewell, my dear brother!

I am, as ever,

Most Affectionately Yours

B. W. Leigh.

How do you like this style

of writing?

I have begun to use it as my

official hand.

B. W. L."
 
Last edited:

eBrowne

Private
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Well, that is interesting. So was it that borrowed horse or was it his $450 horse that he was riding at Gettysburg? I would think that it was the $450 one. Anyone know who Capt. Cringan was?
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Whoa, what a stunning Gettysburg story, thank you! This is crazy. Does anyone know why he was not among those brought home to Richmond, when The Gettysburg Dead were finally exhumed? Weaver surely would have been grateful for an identified grave- since it's known who he is, amongst the many unidentified they brought to the docks at Rockets.
 
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Samwisep86

Corporal
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
tried to find any info about the horse, but this may be the Capt. Cringan from the letter:

"John W. Cringan

Residence was not listed;
Enlisted on 7/17/1861 as a Captain.

On 7/17/1861 he was commissioned into Field & Staff VA 1st Battn Infantry
He was transferred out on 5/15/1864
(Estimated day of transfer)

On 5/15/1864 he transferred into Field & Staff VA 24th Cavalry
(date and method of discharge not given)


He was listed as:
* On rolls 12/15/1862 (place not stated) (Present)
* Absent leave 1/15/1863 (place not stated) (For 30 days)
* On rolls 12/15/1863 (place not stated) (Present)


Promotions:
* Capt 7/17/1861 (Captain and Asst Quartermaster)


(Last name: Cringan or Crigan)"

Leigh previously served in the 1st Va Inf Battalion, so it makes sense that Cringan would let him borrow a horse.
 
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