Archibald Gracie, III
|Cause of death:||Killed in the Siege of Petersburg|
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About Brig. General Archibald Gracie III (CSA)
Archibald Gracie III (December 1, 1832 – December 2, 1864) was a career United States Army officer, businessman, and a graduate of West Point. He is well known for being a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War and for his death during the Siege of Petersburg.
Early life and career
Archibald was born into a wealthy New York family with interests in exporting cotton from Mobile, Alabama. After his elementary education, Gracie traveled to Germany for five years of further studying at the University of Heidelberg. After arriving back in the United States Archibald started his education at West Point. After graduating in 1854, he was appointed a second lieutenant and set off as an escort to Governor Isaac Stevens, who was on the way to the Walla Walla Council of 1855.
In 1857 Gracie resigned his post to join his father's firm, established during the 1840s in Mobile, Alabama, as agents of the London banking firm of Baring brothers. Later Gracie became the President of the Barings Bank of Mobile. It was here in Mobile that he joined the Washington Light Infantry and became its captain. By the orders of Governor Andrew B. Moore, Archibald and his men took the Mount Vernon Arsenal.
Civil War service
When Alabama seceded in 1861 Gracie enlisted in the Confederate States Army. In June 1861 he was created a Major of the 11th Alabama Regiment. From March to April 1862 he commanded a small company of sharpshooters, who were some of the first to reinforce General Magruder during the Battle of Yorktown. In July of that year Gracie was put in command of a brigade near Chattanooga, Tennessee, consisting of the 43rd Alabama infantry, 55th Georgia infantry, 12th Georgia infantry, 1st Georgia Artillery, and the 1st Florida dismounted regiment. Through his successes in Huntsville, Tennessee, he was promoted to brigadier general on November 4, 1862, at the age of 29. His company was the guard of the rear of General Bragg's Army in Harrodsburg during his retreat from the Battle of Perryville, and during his retreat after the Tullahoma Campaign. General Gracie's command took an active role during the Battle of Chickamauga, where he lost over 700 men.
Gracie and his unit then joined General Longstreet's army at the Battle of Bean's Station. During this battle Gracie was shot in the arm causing temporary paralysis of his little and ring fingers. After his recovery he was sent to Richmond to join General Beauregard. While there he had a horse shot out from under him, but went away relatively unscathed. During the Siege of Petersburg Gracie is credited with possibly saving General Lee's life. Lee was at "Gracie's Mortar Hell" inspecting Gracie's defenses when he rose his head over the wall to glance at the Union position, seeing this Gracie climbed the wall in front of Lee. Lee then stated "Why, Gracie, you will certainly be killed," Gracie then replied,"It is better, General, that I be killed than you. When you get down, I will."
Between July and December 1864 Gracie served in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Siege of Petersburg. On December 1, Gracie's 32nd birthday, his second child, a girl, was born, and he was to take a leave to see the baby on December 3. On December 2, 1864, the day after his 32nd birthday Archibald Gracie was looking out at the Union lines through his telescope when an artillery shell exploded in front of him breaking his neck; it killed him instantly. Because of his actions at the Battle of Chickamauga Gracie's name was put into consideration for a promotion to a Major General, but his death caused the consideration to be suspended.
Frank O. Ticknor eulogized Gracie's Death in the poem "Gracie, of Alabama", which he sent to General Robert Chilton:
Gracie, of Alabama! 'Twas on that dreadful day When howling hounds were fiercest, With Petersburg at bay.
Gracie, of Alabama, Walked down the lines with Lee, Marking through mists of gunshot The clouds of enemy;
Scanning the Anaconda At every scale and joint; And halting, glasses levelled At gaze on " Dead Man's Point."
Thrice, Alabama's warning Fell on a heedless ear, While the relentless lead-storm, Converging, hurtled near;
Till straight before his chieftain, Without or sound or sign, He stood, a shield the grandest, Against the Union line:
And then the glass was lowered, And voice that faltered not Said, in its measured cadence," Why, Gracie, you'll be shot!"
And Alabama answered:" The South will pardon me If the ball that goes through Gracie Comes short of Robert Lee!"
Swept a swift flash of crimson Athwart the chieftain's cheek, And the eyes whose glance was "knighthood" Spake as no king could speak.
And side by side with Gracie He turned from shot and flame; Side by side with Gracie Up the grand aisle of Fame.
On November 19, 1856 Archibald Gracie married Josephine Mayo, a niece of General Winfield Scott. He was also the father of Archibald Gracie IV, the famous survivor of the Titanic and a daughter who was born the day before his death.
Gracie is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.
New York City's historic Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp, Archibald Gracie Camp #985, is named in his honor.