Friday, July 5, 2024

Last of Our Civil War Veterans

Taken in November of 1947 at a family reunion in Alabama. 
Seated is Pleasant Riggs Crump, the last living Confederate soldier from the Civil War. 
Standing next to him is his great-great-niece Celia Milam. They shared the same birthday. 
He turned 100 and she turned 15 a few weeks after the photograph was taken.

Story by Terry McGahey 

The last verified Confederate soldier of the Civil War was a man by the name of Pleasant Riggs Crump. He was born on December 23rd, 1847, in Crawford’s Cove, St. Clair County Alabama. Crump enlisted in Petersburg, Virginia as a Private in the 10th Alabama Infantry Regiment in November of 1864. He was assigned to Company A.

Crump saw action at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run as well as the Siege of Petersburg. Crump also witnessed Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

After the war, Crump returned to Alabama and later located himself in Lincoln, within Talladega County. At age 22, he married Mary Hall, a local girl, and they had five children together. Marry died on December 31st, 1901. Crump later re-married Ella Wallis in 1905. Sadly Ella also passed away in July of 1942. From that point, Crump lived with a grandson's family.

The United Confederate Veterans awarded Crump the honorary title of Colonel of the organization in 1950. Crump passed away shortly after his 104th birthday on December 31st, 1951. Pleasant Crump is buried in Hall Cemetary in Lincoln.

The last verified Union soldier to pass away was a man by the name of Albert Henry Woolson. He was born on February 11th, 1850, in Antwerp, New York. Not only was he the last surviving Union soldier from the Civil War, he was the last of either side of the Civil War to pass away.

His father, Willard Woolson died from injuries he received at the battle of Shilo. Albert then enlisted as a drummer boy at age 14 into Company C, 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment on October 10th, 1864, but his company never saw action. He was discharged on September 7th, 1865.

During his final days, he lived in Duluth, Minnesota, at 215 East Fifth Street. Woolson passed away at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth on August 2nd, 1956. Others whom I won’t mention claimed to be the last Civil War Veterans, but they were not verified or were completely debunked. Woolson was buried with full military honors at Park Hill Cemetary. 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "The American people have lost the last link with the Union Army… His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the war between the states."

Sometimes it's hard to believe that the Civil War was truly not that long ago within the annals of history. It really comes home to me because I was alive before both of these two men passed away. I was five years old when Woolson passed, so it sure made me think.

About the Author

Terry McGahey
Associate Writer/ Old West Historian

Terry has been a working cowboy, a writer, and an Old West historian. He is best known for his fight against the City of Tombstone and its historic City Ordinance Number 9.

He was instrumental in getting the famous Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 repealed while at the same time forcing the City of Tombstone to fall in line and comply with the laws of the State of Arizona.

If you care to read how he fought Tombstone's City Hall and won, check out:

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