Friday, January 11, 2008

Famous Last Words. . .

Here is a quick look at the (supposed) last words uttered by some Civil War personalities. If there are any I missed, please let me know. . .

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James Buchanan
15th President of the United States
Date of Death: June 1, 1868
Age at Death: 77
Last Words:
"Whatever the result may be, I shall carry to my grave the consciousness
that at least I meant well for my country."
These are some of the least inspiring last words. I should hope that a president hopes to do more than simply "mean well." Oh well. He should have said, "I did nothing to help the country out of the whole secession mess."
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Abraham Lincoln
16th President of the United States
Date of Death: April 15, 1865
Age at Death: 56
Last Words:
"They won't think anything about it."
Lincoln allegedly said this in response to his wife Mary's question about what everyone would think seeing them holding hands in public moments before he was shot.
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John Wilkes Booth
Actor/Assassin
Date of Death: April 26, 1865
Age at Death: 26
Last Words:
". . .useless, useless. . ."
Booth neatly summarized his life with his final words.
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Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson
Confederate General
Date of Death: May 10, 1863
Age at Death: 39
Last Words:
"Let us cross over the river, and rest in the shade of the trees."
Many think this was Jackson yearning for his more youthful days in [West] Virginia. I think he was simply re-uttering the orders he gave to his men during the Seven Days Campaign when he failed to support A.P. Hill and was found dozing on a tree stump.
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Robert E. Lee
Confederate General
Date of Death: October 12, 1870
Age at Death: 63
Last Words:
"Tell Hill he must come up. Strike the tent."
I think this falls under the category of "yeah, right" since Lee suffered a stroke shortly before his death that left him unable to speak.
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John Sedgwick
Union General
Date of Death: May 9, 1864
Age at Death: 50
Last Words:
"They couldn't hit an elephant at that distance."
Other than Jackson's, these are probably the most famous last words of the Civil War. While visiting with his troops on the front line at Spotsylvania, Sedgwick noticed a number of his troops dodging the bullets of Confederate sharpshooters. He told his men not to worry since the distance was too great. Moments after uttering his famous phrase, he was struck below the left eye by a sharpshooter's ball and killed instantly.
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Jesse Reno
Union General
Date of Death: September 14, 1862
Age at Death: 39
Last Words:
"Hallo, Sam, I'm dead. . . .Yes, yes, I'm dead.
Tell the boys if I can't be with them in body I shall be with them in spirit."
Reno was struck down near twilight on September 14, 1862, at the battle of South Mountain. Carried to the rear, he spotted his old friend Samuel Sturgis, and made his final remarks. I have a feeling the whole body/spirit thing was attributed to him after he died.
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John Reynolds
Date of Death: July 1, 1863
Age at Death: 42
Last Words:
"Forward! For God's sake, Forward!"
Reynolds allegedly said these words to the troops of the Iron Brigade while leading them on horseback during the opening salvos of the battle of Gettysburg.
* * * * * * * * * * Jeb Stuart
Confederate General
Date of Death: May 12, 1864
Age at Death: 31
Last Words:
"I am resigned, if it be God's will. But I would like to see my wife. . .But God's will be done. . .
I am going fast now. . .God's will be done."
Stuart was shot and mortally wounded at the battle of Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864, and died in a Richmond home the following day while waiting for his wife, Flora.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Edward Cross
Colonel Union Army
Date of Death: July 2, 1863
Age at Death: 31
Last Words:
"The boys, I think, will miss me."
Colonel Cross was mortally wounded on July 2, 1863, near the Wheatfield at Gettysburg.
* * * * * * * * * *

Ambrose Powell Hill

Confederate General

Date of Death: April 2, 1865

Age at Death: 39

Last Word:

"Surrender!"

General Hill and his staff accidentally rode into a Union picket line early on the morning of April 2, 1865, outside of Petersburg, Virginia. He yelled for the Union troops to surrender; they instead opened fire, and Hill was shot right through the heart.

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James Longstreet

Confederate General

Date of Death: January 2, 1904

Age at Death: 82

Last Words:

"Helen, we shall be happier in this post."

I could be wrong, but I think James and his wife, Helen, were looking at a new residence or hotel or something. Someone please correct me here.

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Albert Sidney Johnston

Confederate General

Date of Death: April 6, 1862

Age at Death: 59

Last Words:

"Yes, and I fear seriously."

Johnston said this in response to one of his staff officers who asked him if he had been wounded.

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George McClellan

Union General

Date of Death: October 29, 1885

Age at Death: 58

Last Words:

"I feel easy now. Thank you."

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Winfield Scott Hancock

Union General

Date of Death: February 9, 1886

Age at Death: 61

Last Words:

"Oh, Allie, Allie, Good----"

Hancock was calling out to his beloved wife Almira but died before he could get out the "Goodbye"

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ulysses S. Grant

Union General/18th President of the United States

Date of Death: July 23, 1885

Age at Death: 63

Last Word:

"Water."

Well, at least it's better than "I meant to do well."

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2 comments:

Jenny said...

I don't know if these were the absolute last words to leave his lips, but one of Maxcy Gregg's last acts the morning he died was to dictate this communique to the governor of South Carolina: "If I am to die at this time, I yield my life cheerfully, fighting for the independence of South Carolina."

General James Rice, mortally wounded at Spotsylvania, was recorded as saying, "Turn me over so that I may die with my face to the enemy."

John David Hoptak said...

Hi Jenny~
Thanks for the contributions. . .
I hope all is well.

John