The Last Hours of Brig Gen Paul J. Semmes: Major Samuel P. Hamilton of Cabell's Artillery

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
1576723714056.png

Major Hamilton, I am glad to see you. I am badly wounded (pointing to the spot,) and I believe I shall die. Perhaps, I may not, but something warns me that the chances are against my recovery. You and I have served the same State and I wish you, no I charge upon you, to bear testimony to the fact that I fell at the head of my brigade, leading them in a charge, which up to that time was successful. I love my country as devotedly as any man ever has or can do....I shall die with perfect resignation if it be known where my death wound was received; that it was in my appointed place, where a soldier should, and where my State and country had a right to expect.

Major Samuel P. Hamilton, of Cabell's Artillery Battalion, writes to Peter Wellington Alexander (aka P. W. A.), of the Savannah Republican, from Camp Near Culpeper Court House, VA, July 26, 1863, concerning the mortal wounding of Brig Gen Paul J Semmes at Gettysburg:

I was standing at the gun where the gallant Frazer [sic. Fraser] had just been struck down, when I observed a wounded man being borne from the field in a blanket. By the number of attendants, I soon perceived that it was an officer of rank and in a moment after recognized that officer as Gen. Semmes....I saw the charge of his brigade; the Tenth Georgia passed over the left of our battalion of artillery where I had command. No ordinary ordeal was it theirs to meet: a plain swept by thirty pieces of cannon first to be passed -- a precipitous mountain, jagged with rocks, to be scaled in the face of brigade upon brigade of the enemy, strongly positioned on its sides....among all the brave men who there fought and there fell, I venture to assert that no more complete soldier, more faithful officer, or more heroic spirit there received his doom than Paul J Semmes.​
1576724225288.png

[Weekly Columbus Enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.), August 11, 1863, page 1.]
OP Image: Requiem In Memory of Gen. Paul J. Semmes, sheet music cover, Wm. A. Pond & Co., New York, 1868. LOC
@Tom Elmore @Wallyfish @infomanpa Cabell's Battalion included Manley's (NC) Battery, Troup (GA) Artillery, Fraser's (GA) Battery and McCarthy's First Richmond Howitzers. Which battery was Hamilton commanding?
 
Last edited:

infomanpa

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
View attachment 339065
Major Hamilton, I am glad to see you. I am badly wounded (pointing to the spot,) and I believe I shall die. Perhaps, I may not, but something warns me that the chances are against my recovery. You and I have served the same State and I wish you, no I charge upon you, to bear testimony to the fact that I fell at the head of my brigade, leading them in a charge, which up to that time was successful. I love my country as devotedly as any man ever has or can do....I shall die with perfect resignation if it be known where my death wound was received; that it was in my appointed place, where a soldier should, and where my State and country had a right to expect.

Major Samuel P. Hamilton, of Cabell's Artillery Battalion, writes to Peter Wellington Alexander (aka P. W. A.), of the Savannah Republican, from Camp Near Culpeper Court House, VA, July 26, 1863, concerning the mortal wounding of Brig Gen Paul J Semmes at Gettysburg:

I was standing at the gun where the gallant Frazer [sic. Fraser] had just been struck down, when I observed a wounded man being borne from the field in a blanket. By the number of attendants, I soon perceived that it was an officer of rank and in a moment after recognized that officer as Gen. Semmes....I saw the charge of his brigade; the Tenth Georgia passed over the left of our battalion of artillery where I had command. No ordinary ordeal was it theirs to meet: a plain swept by thirty pieces of cannon first to be passed -- a precipitous mountain, jagged with rocks, to be scaled in the face of brigade upon brigade of the enemy, strongly positioned on its sides....among all the brave men who there fought and there fell, I venture to assert that no more complete soldier, more faithful officer, or more heroic spirit there received his doom than Paul J Semmes.​
View attachment 339066
[Weekly Columbus Enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.), August 11, 1863, page 1.]
OP Image: Requiem In Memory of Gen. Paul J. Semmes, sheet music cover, Wm. A. Pond & Co., New York, 1868. LOC
@Tom Elmore @Wallyfish @infomanpa Cabell's Battalion included Manley's (NC) Battery, Troup (GA) Artillery, Fraser's (GA) Battery and McCarthy's First Richmond Howitzers. Which battery was Hamilton commanding?

I am guessing that Major Hamilton did not command any battery. Most batteries in the Confederate army were commanded by captains or lieutenants. A colonel usually commanded a battalion as was Cabell's rank. Therefore, I would say that Hamilton probably served as a subordinate on the staff of Colonel Cabell. Similarly, majors often were subordinates to colonels who commanded infantry regiments.
 

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
I saw the charge of his brigade; the Tenth Georgia passed over the left of our battalion of artillery where I had command.
Thanks @infomanpa and @Wallyfish I guess I was reading too much into the "where I had command" part of Hamilton's account. I thought he meant he was commanding one of one of the batteries on the left.
 

Wallyfish

Sergeant Major
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Nov 26, 2015
Location
Greensburg, Pa
I don't know if you have read Cabell's Gettysburg Battle report before, but it is an interesting read. Specifically to Hamilton, this is Cabell's only mention.

I was much indebted to Maj. S. P. Hamilton for assistance rendered me on every occasion.

His entire report can be found below.


 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Samuel Prioleau Hamilton reportedly attended the College of Charleston.

His memorial indicated that his right hand had been amputated at the age of eleven:
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43222435/samuel-prioleau-hamilton

I tend to agree with Ryan as to his position, which does not appear to be specifically defined. He reminds me of a few other prominent men who were attached to the army with the title of volunteer aide-de-camp.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Samuel Prioleau Hamilton was born in January of 1826 in Washington DC. His father had been governor of SC while his brother was a colonel in the SC regiments. He was educated at the College of Charleston and was a port official at Savanna, GA. In ACW he was Capt. of 1st GA (Co. A), 1861; Maj. Chief of Arty to McLaws, 1862; Maj. Judge Advocate, 1863; Maj. in Cabell's Bn. Arty, 1863. After the War he was a lawyer and state legislator in SC. He died 1897 in Chester, SC and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.

I don't know all this stuff off the top of my head 🙂 --being easily confused by CSA names and ranks, I have a copy of A Biologcal Register of the Staff Officers in the Army of Northern Virginia [and others] from the local library.
 

Rick Richter

Corporal
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
IIRC, Hamilton was serving as a sort-of executive officer for Colonel Cabell.

Ryan

Confederate artillery battalions were typically commanded by Colonels or Lt. Colonels, with Majors as the executive officer. In battle, the major might be in command of two of the batteries. It appears that Lt. Furlong stepped in for Fraser upon that officer's wounding, which would follow the normal chain of command. Hamilton needed to be available to take over if anything should happen to Cabell. Great post, these battlefield reminiscences are always fascinating!
 

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Peter Wellington Alexander (aka P.W.A.) sent back to the Savannah Republican, a lengthy account of the Battle of Gettysburg, dated July 4, 1863. It was reprinted in the Southern Recorder and included this excerpt related to Semmes' wound.
1576820059543.png

Southern Recorder. (Milledgeville, Ga.), July 28, 1863, page 1.
 

Virginia Dave

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Location
Waynesboro, Virginia
View attachment 339065
Major Hamilton, I am glad to see you. I am badly wounded (pointing to the spot,) and I believe I shall die. Perhaps, I may not, but something warns me that the chances are against my recovery. You and I have served the same State and I wish you, no I charge upon you, to bear testimony to the fact that I fell at the head of my brigade, leading them in a charge, which up to that time was successful. I love my country as devotedly as any man ever has or can do....I shall die with perfect resignation if it be known where my death wound was received; that it was in my appointed place, where a soldier should, and where my State and country had a right to expect.

Major Samuel P. Hamilton, of Cabell's Artillery Battalion, writes to Peter Wellington Alexander (aka P. W. A.), of the Savannah Republican, from Camp Near Culpeper Court House, VA, July 26, 1863, concerning the mortal wounding of Brig Gen Paul J Semmes at Gettysburg:

I was standing at the gun where the gallant Frazer [sic. Fraser] had just been struck down, when I observed a wounded man being borne from the field in a blanket. By the number of attendants, I soon perceived that it was an officer of rank and in a moment after recognized that officer as Gen. Semmes....I saw the charge of his brigade; the Tenth Georgia passed over the left of our battalion of artillery where I had command. No ordinary ordeal was it theirs to meet: a plain swept by thirty pieces of cannon first to be passed -- a precipitous mountain, jagged with rocks, to be scaled in the face of brigade upon brigade of the enemy, strongly positioned on its sides....among all the brave men who there fought and there fell, I venture to assert that no more complete soldier, more faithful officer, or more heroic spirit there received his doom than Paul J Semmes.​
View attachment 339066
[Weekly Columbus Enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.), August 11, 1863, page 1.]
OP Image: Requiem In Memory of Gen. Paul J. Semmes, sheet music cover, Wm. A. Pond & Co., New York, 1868. LOC
@Tom Elmore @Wallyfish @infomanpa Cabell's Battalion included Manley's (NC) Battery, Troup (GA) Artillery, Fraser's (GA) Battery and McCarthy's First Richmond Howitzers. Which battery was Hamilton commanding?
Thank you foe this story. You post some wonderful ones. Thank you.
 
Top