Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Remembering Edwin Francis Jemison

This portrait of Private Edwin Jemison is one of the most iconic images of the war. Though he was descended from two of the founding families of Georgia, his branch of the family moved to Louisiana before the war. When secession came, Jemison enlisted in the 2nd Louisiana Infantry as a 16-year-old.  

The 2nd Louisiana was sent to Virginia, where it came under the command of John Bankhead Magruder. The regiment saw limited action at Dam Number One in the opening movements of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, but was not engaged again until the last of the Seven Days battles. There, at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862, 17-year-old  Private Jemison was killed in action.

With family roots in Milledgeville, Georgia, it was presumed that his remains were returned to the family plot there, and indeed, there is a gravestone for him there, as well as a more substantial monument to his memory (Memory Hill Cemetery).

Two researchers, however -- Alexandra Filipowski and Hugh T. Harrington -- have concluded that Private Jemison’s remains are buried elsewhere, namely at Malvern Hill where he was killed. This, based mainly on a contemporary obituary that mentions his burial at Malvern Hill, and the lack of any documentation that Jemison’s body was relocated to Milledgeville. You can read those researchers’ convincing argument in this America’s Civil War article from 2004.

When I think of Milledgeville, I think of Sherman’s troops ransacking the then state courthouse, and I think of Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite authors. If Jemison is buried at Memory Hill, then he’s in good company.


Hugh said...

Always glad to meet another friend of Edwin Jemison. Thank you for linking to the article on his burial place written by my friend Alexa Filipowski and myself which appeared in America's Civil War. There is so much to the story of Edwin Jemison - a great deal of it is fable, too. Ms. Filipowski and I are working on a book which will cover the definitive story of his short life. So glad that Edwin is not forgotten; thanks!

dw said...

Hello Hugh,

You and Alexandra did fine work on Jemison's final resting place. Great job on the article. I look forward to seeing the book -- sounds like a fun project.


Unknown said...

We thought you might be interested in this press release about an interactive program we put in place with the Gettysburg Foundation...


You are welcome to cover this story or make use of the material in the press release for your blog. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see another friend of Edwin Jemison myself too.l know a lady who has seen his ghost,she says,around Milledgeville,Georgia.
Will be most interested to see the book too.

Tim Kent said...

One thing I have noticed is that a lot of times, family's couldn't recover the bodies because they had been buried so far from home. Many just erected a marker in their memory. As much carnage as there was at Malvern Hill, the odds of them finding his temporary grave later were probably astronomical.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Edwin Jemison! I had to portray this young man in a game i played in at a civil war field trip. After that i had great interest in finding more information and his picture is quite intriguing. Haha. Well ever since that field trip, every night ive had dreams about him. Although im a 13 year old girl i luv learning about wars and famous soldiers. Edwin, Eli Landers and Sam Watkins are probably my favorite to learn and gather information about. Edwin has inspired me to fight for my country and be in the air force. I know every detail possible about him. He is possibly buried less than an hour away from me! In Milledgeville. Thank you for this article! Its nice to know more about my possible cousin!!!

Unknown said...

Indeed! Edwin is the heart and soul of our South. We see ourselves in him, a benevolence that has been lost in our present modern day society.

Historian said...

Those who are interested in Edwin Jemison may care to know that his biography has been published. The title is "The Boy Soldier: Edwin Jemison and the Story Behind the Most Remarkable Portrait of the Civil War." The authors are Hugh T. Harrington and Alexandra Filipowski. It is published by Westholme Publishing. It can be found at amazon, Barnes & Noble (stores and online) and other quality bookstores.