Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grave of the best known Private Soldier of the Confederacy - Milledgeville, Georgia

Private Edwin F. Jemison, 2nd Louisiana Infantry
A stone monument at Memory Hill Cemetery in historic Milledgeville, Georgia, bears a name that touches the heart of many who read about or study the Civil War: Edwin F. Jemison.

Jemison was a 16 year old volunteer in Louisiana when the haunting photograph that many consider the best known image of a private soldier of the Confederacy was taken. He never saw his 18th birthday.

Born into a prominent Georgia family, Edwin F. Jemison (who signed his military papers as E.F. Jemison) was a descendant of early Quakers who had founded the town of Wrightsboro, Georgia, and was the great-grandson of a hero of the American Revolution. His family had moved to Louisiana from Georgia during the 1850s and had acquired large holdings in the Monroe area. When President Abraham Lincoln called for hundreds of thousands of volunteers to put down the rebellion in the South, Jemison was among the Southern men and boys who turned out to defend their homeland.

Grave of Edwin F. Jemison
Edwin F. Jemison was mustered into the 2nd Louisiana Infantry Regiment on May 11, 1861, and served in Companies I, B and C during his 12-months tour of duty. Possibly because of his young age, he was detached early in his service to assist at the headquarters of General John B. Magruder. By the winter of 1861-1862, however, he was in the ranks in Virginia where the 2nd Louisiana had been sent to defend the Confederate capital city of Richmond.

Only 17 years old, he was shot down when his regiment stepped out in one of the human waves sent by General Robert E. Lee against Union artillery positions at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. His sad eyes, however, stare out through the years to remind us of the cost of war thanks to the 150 year old photograph that has been widely reprinted since the war.

A monument to Jemison was placed in the family plot at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville soon after the war and visitors today can view his grave and read an interpretive panel that tells his tragic story. To learn more, please visit

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