Friday, July 1, 2016

The Battle of Malvern Hill 154 years ago today was deadly for Conecuh Guards

Gilchrist R. Boulware
Today marks the 154th anniversary of one of the deadliest days of the Civil War for the Conecuh Guards, the Confederate military company from Conecuh County.

It was on July 1, 1862 that 55,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of General Robert E. Lee collided with 54,000 Union soldiers under the command of generals George B. McClellan and Fitz John Porter at the Battle of Malvern Hill in Henrico County, Va. From a tactical standpoint, this battle resulted in a Union victory and was costly for Co. E of the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Also known as the “Conecuh Guards,” this unit was organized at Sparta on April 1, 1861.

At the Battle of Malvern Hill, estimated casualties on both sides amounted to around 8,650 and at least four members of the Conecuh Guards were among those killed and wounded.

According to B.F. Riley’s 1881 book, “The History of Conecuh County, Alabama,” two members of the Conecuh Guards were killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill – John Arthur Hodo and Emanuel Johnston. Two other members of the Conecuh Guards were wounded there – Capt. William Lee and 19-year-old Gilchrist R. Boulware.

So far, I haven’t been able to dig up any information about how Hodo and Johnston were killed but, interestingly, you can visit Hodo’s grave today in Virginia. Although the 30-year-old Hodo was killed on July 1, his remains weren’t finally buried until Aug. 18, 1862 when he was laid to rest in the Soldiers Section of the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va.

Johnson was also buried in the Soldiers Section of the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, but they have him incorrectly listed as Emanuel Johnson (without the “t). According to cemetery records, his remains were finally buried on July 27, 1862, that is, over three weeks after his death at the Battle of Malvern Hill.

As things turned out, Capt. William Lee, who’d been wounded five days before at the First Battle of Cold Harbor, would not survive the war. Almost a year to the day after the Battle of Malvern Hill, Lee was mortally wounded on the second day of the epic Battle of Gettysburg while fighting in McLaw’s Brigade in Hood’s Division. He died the following day. He was later laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

Capt. Lee was apparently so well respected and highly regard that years later, when Confederate veterans in Conecuh County formed a United Confederate Veterans Camp, they named it Camp Capt. William Lee in his honor.

Boulware survived the war and is arguably one of the most colorful men to have ever lived in Conecuh County. Born near Brooklyn on Aug. 15, 1842, Boulware entered Confederate service as a private when the Conecuh Guards were organized in April 1861. On Dec. 13, 1862, five months after the Battle of Malvern Hill, Boulware was serving as the Color Sergeant for the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment when he was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.

Jump ahead to Sept. 19, 1863, and Boulware, who was still the Regiment’s Color Sergeant, was severely wounded in the side and in the arm at the Battle of Chickamauga in northwest Georgia. Even though Boulware’s left arm had to be amputated at Chickamauga, his service didn’t end there for on Jan. 11, 1864 (less than four months later), Boulware began working for the Confederate Secret Service Department, serving in this clandestine organization until the end of the war in 1865.

After the war, Boulware returned home to Conecuh County and became a productive citizen. He also became very active in veterans affairs. He served as the commander of Camp Capt. William Lee of the United Confederate Veterans for a number of years, including 1908, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916. Wounded at least three times during the Civil War, Boulware outlived most of his comrades, having passed away at the age of 80 on Sept. 21, 1922. He is buried in the cemetery at Brooklyn Baptist Church.

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