Monday, April 16, 2012

Paul Revere's Grandsons Fought In the Civil War

Portrait of Paul Revere, circa 1768
Paul Revere had a large family with a total of 51 grandchildren, three of whom, Paul Joseph Revere, Joseph Warren Revere and Edward Hutchinson Revere, served in the Union army during the Civil War.

Paul Joseph Revere served as a colonel in the 20th Massachusetts Regiment along with Edward Hutchinson Revere who was an assistant army surgeon. Joseph Warren Revere served as a Brigadier General in the New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.

Both Paul and Edward were captured by Confederate troops during the Battle at Ball's Bluff in Virginia in October of 1861. According to the book “Massachusetts in the War” Paul spent time in the infamous Libby prison in Richmond before being exchanged for several Confederate pirates:

In the Battle of Ball's Bluff, October 21 1861, he was wounded in the leg and made prisoner, being confined first at Libby prison and afterward being one of seven Federal officers made hostages for the lives of Confederate privateersmen held by the United States government on the charge of piracy. For three months he was with his fellow hostages confined in a wretched cell of Henrico county jail. He was paroled on 22 of February, 1862, and being exchanged May 2 rejoined his regiment before Yorktown.”

According to the book “Harvard Memorial Biographies” Edward was held at a Confederate prison in Leesburg and then in Richmond. The prison is not named but the author states it was a former tobacco warehouse. Libby prison was, in fact, a former tobacco warehouse but so was another Richmond Confederate prison, Castle Thunder. These warehouses were located along Tobacco Row near the James River.

After his brother Paul was taken as a hostage from the prison and moved to Henrico, Edward wrote a letter home informing his family of the news. The context of the letter further suggests Edward was at Libby prison with Paul but, again, the prison is not named:

“Paul and the other officers left us last Thursday for the jail, to await the trial of the privateersmen. There were seven in all from here, the rest of the fourteen being either in South Carolina or New Orleans. They are confined in one small cell, with two small windows. I hear from them everyday, but am not allowed to see them. You can imagine our anxiety to hear what action the government will take when they hear of their imprisonment, for there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that whatever is done to the privateersmen will be meted out to our unfortunate comrades.”

Edward was paroled on February 22, the same day as Paul, and went home to await his official exchange, which occurred in April.

After their release, Paul and Edward served in the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862. During the battle, Edward was shot and killed while caring for a wounded soldier and Paul was wounded again. Fortunately, Paul made another full recovery and went back to war.

Paul's luck ran out in July of 1863 when he led his troops in the famous Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and was wounded on the second day of the battle. Paul passed away just two days later. After his death, he was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General.

Joseph was the only grandson to survive the Civil War, but he had his fair share of bad fortune as well. At the Battle of Chancellorsville in the spring of 1863, Joseph withdrew his troops from battle without orders to do so, resulting in a court martial. Sentenced to be dismissed from the army, President Abraham Lincoln allowed him to resign instead.
Paul Joseph Revere

Joseph Warren Revere

"Harvard Memorial Biographies”; Edited by Thomas Wentworth Higginson; 1867

Appleton's Cyclop├Ždia of American biography, Volume 5” edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske; 1915

Massachusetts in the War, 1861-1865”; James Lorenzo Bowen; 1888

The Cyclopedia of American Biography V6”; John Howard Brown; 1903

Civil War Boston: Home Front and Battlefield”; Thomas H. O'Connor; 1997

Best Little Stories from the Civil War”; C. Brian Kelly; 1994

CNN: Seven Civil War Stories Your Teacher Never Told You:

The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, Volume 1”; Elbridge Henry Goss; 1906

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