Monday, January 15, 2018

Personality Spotlight : Gen. Samuel Garland, Jr.

I've not written a personality spotlight in a couple of months or so, but while reading Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory, September 14, 1862, by Brian Matthew Jordan, I got to thinking about historical contingency.

One of Gen. Samuel Garland's superiors, Gen. D.H. Hill wrote years after the war about Garland that, "Had he lived, his talents, pluck, energy, and purity of character must have put him in the front rank of his profession, whether in civil or military life (p. 138). I guess, I've let the cat our of the bag, if you weren't already aware. Yes, Garland was killed in the fight at South Mountain. What might have been? We won't know. Had he lived, would Garland have become a major general and led a division? How about lieutenant general and commanded a corps? Would he have actively helped heal the wounds of the Civil War and create a New South such as colleagues James Longstreet and William Mahone, or would he have tried to hold onto the Old South like other colleagues such as Jubal Early and John B. Gordon? We won't know.

Samuel Garland, Jr. was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on December 16, 1830. He descended from legendary roots. His great grand uncle was James Madison. Garland was educated at the South's premier military school, Virginia Military Institute. Later he attended the University of Virginia for law school. He was indeed a lawyer when the Civil War erupted and changed his world.

The 1860 census shows Garland as a twenty-nine year old in his chosen occupation. He had $38,000 in real estate and what appears to be $31,220 in personal property, which included a number of slaves. His wife, Eliza, was one year his junior, and their son Samuel III was three. Also in the household, Caroline M. Garland, fifty years old, who was Samuel's mother. 

In 1859, and perhaps in response to John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Garland organized a militia company named the Lynchburg Home Guard. He is shown in the photograph above in his militia uniform. However, when the Old Dominion left the Union, he soon became colonel of 11th Virginia Infantry. The 11th was present at First Manassas but was held in reserve. During the Peninsula Campaign, fighting at Williamsburg, Garland was wounded but refused to leave the field until the fight concluded. He soon received promotion to brigadier general in D.H. Hill's division and was eventually leading a brigade of North Carolina regiments.

Garland's men fought in the Seven Days' Battles, but missed Second Manassas while stationed near Richmond's defenses. However, they joined Lee's main force in northern Virginia for the Maryland Campaign. D.H, Hill's Division was tabbed to block two gaps in the South Mountain range just outside of Boonsboro, Maryland. Turner's Gap was the northern most cut, in the middle was Fox's Gap. Further south was Crampton's Gap, defended by a Rebel mixed force.

During the savage fighting at Fox's Gap, Garland was, as usual, in the thick of the fight. After being warned by Col. Thomas Ruffin of the 13th North Carolina to move to a safer location, Garland expressed his lack of fear in being wounded. Almost immediately Ruffin was hit in the hip by a Union bullet. Then, rapidly another bullet hit Garland in the back, going completely through the body of the general. He died on the field shortly thereafter. His body was eventually returned to Lynchburg for burial.

Samuel Garland's short life might have held a bright and useful future had he lived. We won't know. Such is the tragedy of war.

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