Henry Alonzo Greig killed at Chapin’s Farm

How Henry might have looked in 1864

How Henry might have looked in 1864

William H. Scott, a resident of Lawrenceville, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, came forward after the war to testify that Pvt. Henry Alonzo Greig and he had enlisted together in Co. E, 2d Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery in 1864 and that they had known each other at least three years prior to that. He also remembered that they entered the Battle at Chapin’s Farm on 29 September 1864 together but that Henry, wounded in the leg, did not return with the other men in his regiment when they “were compelled to fall back” leaving the enemy to occupy the ground “where he last saw Henry.”

Though these words were not comforting to Henry’s mother, they brought closure to her distress upon hearing of his falling in the engagement and they opened the door for her to seek a “Mother’s Pension” for her son’s service — a source of income the long suffering widow would need.

Before his death at Chapin’s Farm, Henry fought with the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery “Provisionals” through the aggressive “overland campaign of 1864” that took the Provisionals from the Wilderness, to Spotsylvania, to Cold Harbor, to Petersburg — resulting in the loss of more than half their troop strength from battle casualties and sickness. Pvt. Greig survived all of these engagements, including the Battle of the Crater — which was a complete Union disaster — but he would not survive the Battle at Chapin’s Farm. The regimental history records that 2 officers and 12 men were killed in that engagement, along with 2 officers and 83 men captured or missing.

As evidence of her son’s service, Ellen Olivia (Burelle) Greig submitted three letters to the Pension Bureau that were written by her son from the trenches in front of Petersburg during August 1864. At this time, the Provisionals were still an independent unit in Burnside’s 9th Corps. Later in the month, they would be reunited with the men of the 2d PA. Heavy Artillery. These letters follow:

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Camp Near Petersburg, Virginia
August 6th [1864]

Dear Mother,

I take the liberty of writing you a few lines this morning to inform you that I am well & hearty but it is rather warm out  here but not any more than a person could expect…We have been paid & I have been studying how I should go to work to send you some money. I don’t like the idea of sending it by mail for there is so many letters sent by mail now, & then I don’t like to send it by the Sanitary Commission for they are as bad as some of our officers, Some of Boys sent their watches by one of them down to City Point to have him Express them home & that is the last we have heard of watches then or anything else. But Lieutenant [Bernard] Mercer is a going down to City Point this afternoon & I think I will send 60 dollars by him to have him send it by Adams Express. I would of liked to send more but I did not get as much as I thought I would because I did not have any Certificate to show that I was a Veteran. I wrote to James this morning & sent 5 dollars in it for you. I was afraid to send much at a time but I must stop writing for this time. Tell Clara to write. I have written till I am almost tired. I will now close. Give my love to everybody in general & all your folks in particular. Accept the love & best wishes of your loving son, — Henry A. Greig

Camp Near Petersburg, Virginia
August 7th 1864

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Dear Mother,

I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well & have been paid off & I sent 60 dollars to you by Adams Express Co. yesterday & I have the receipt for itI had it directed to you [at] Arsenal Post Office, Lawrenceville, Allegheny County, PA so that you will be notified when it reaches you & you will have to pay the freight on it. I suppose it will be about $1.00 or so. I did not like to risk it by mail & as the Lieutenant was a going down to City Point, I thought I would get him to express…

Col. James Ledlie

Col. James Ledlie

…& hang him right in sight of the Rebs. That is what ought to be done with him, don’t you think so? Now the blame seems to be layed to Meade & Burnside but I don’t know what they will make of it yet.¹

I will now close for the present. I remain as ever your affectionate son, — Henry

Write soon. Don’t forget the money & I sent $5 in a letter to Jim for you. When you get it, I would like to have you send me a note. You can send it by mail. Put a handkerchief in it. Send me a light one for a heavy hat won’t do very well for this warm weather. I have a big straw hat about the size of a flower bonnet but I don’t like it for it is too good a mark for the Reb sharpshooters. Yours truly.

¹ Unfortunately a page is missing from this letter that might have confirmed my suspicion that Henry was relating to his mother the camp rumor that Col. James H. Ledlie, commanding officer of the assault force at the Battle of the Crater (in which the Provisionals were a part), had been drunk and derelict in his duties by failing to lead his men. 

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Camp Near Petersburg, Virginia
August 19th 1864

Dear Mother,

I received your kind & ever welcome letter of the 13th which contained the handkerchief & I also received the hat you send me & I was very much pleased with them both. They are both very nice. I was glad to hear that you had received the money I sent you. I was afraid something had happened with it for it was so long before I could hear from it. But it is well that you got it…but Mother, I was sorry to hear that sad news of the death of William Moon. It must be a sad blow to his Ma but such is the way of the world. But he is better off than the most of us. He died good & that is a great blessing. But I must hasten this letter for I want to send this letter away today & I will have to hurry for there is a young fellow going in to camp & he will take it in for me in the A. M. so you must have to excuse me this time. Please give my love to all the folks & accept a larger portion for yourself. I remain, as ever, your loving & affectionate son, — Henry A. Greig

Write soon. Tell Clara I will write to her soon…

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Family Information:

Henry Alonzo Greig (1843-1864) was the son of James Madison Greig (1807-1852) and Ellen Olivia Burelle (1806-18xx).

Henry served previously in Co. I,  123rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment from 9 August 1862 to 13 May 1863.

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