27 March 2015

Eyewitness Account of Death of Henry Martin Walker, Sr. (1829-1865)

I have previously documented the tragic death of Henry M. Walker, Sr. my 2xg-grandfather in a Civil War railroad accident near New Orleans, in March of 1865.  I was blown away to find this eyewitness account, not just of the railroad accident, but the death of my 2xg-grandfather!

From page 261 of HISTORY of the Thirty-Third Regiment Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry IN THE CIVIL WAR: 22nd AUGUST, 1861. to 7th DECEMBER, 1865 by General Isaac H. Elliott, published in 1902 --

All those who were able soon commenced the work of relieving the suffering. Under the command of Col. Elliott the men moved like well-regulated machines. Ropes were procured and the cars were pulled apart and held in place until men could gather up the dead and wounded. Several of the boys were thrown into ditches and held down by the cars until drowned. We could hear their cries but could not get at them until too late to save them. One, a member of A Company, a nephew of Capt. Dutton, who had been with us but a short time, thus gave up his life. How different the ending from what his imagination had pictured it!  He was drowned like a rat in a trap, even without having seen an armed rebel. After the body of the poor boy had been removed from the ditch, the scene of Capt. Dutton standing over him, the tears running down his face as efforts were being made by the comrades to bring back the young life that had been snuffed out so quickly, and the earnest appeals of the Captain to work faster, will remain with me as long as life lasts.
Capt. Harvey Dutton was my 2xg-granduncle and a true hero of the Civil War as I have documented on this blog.  But this soldier above erred in his account.  Let's return to Capt. Dutton's own account of the tragedy in the same book --
The killed were: 1st Sergt. Spillman F. Willis, Vet.; Private Chas. G. Howell, Vet.; Private Chas. Greening, Private H. M. Walker, and Private Jerome Wolf.  A peculiarly distressing feature of this affair to me was not only that Company A had lost its noble, brave and efficient Orderly Sergeant, and another veteran of three and a half years of faithful service, but that of the five new men from my home, as before mentioned, three of them, one my brother-in-law, now lay dead.
There was no nephew of Capt. Dutton killed.  There was no nephew of Capt. Dutton serving in the same company!  The "nephew" whose body the soldier saw Capt. Dutton shedding tears over was in fact Capt. Dutton's brother-in-law and my 2xg-grandfather Henry M. Walker, Sr.!!!

His grave is not listed in the National Park Service database or the Sons of Union Veterans database.  I am one step closer to finding his grave in that the soldier also relays the "dead and wounded" were carried to the nearest farmhouse.  More research is necessary.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

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