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1864 May 28: Death of Captain Rollin P. Converse

May 30, 2014

The following letter and article about the death of Captain Rollin P. Converse are from the May 28, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  This article was picked up by The Polk County Press and published in its June 4, 1864, issue.

Letter from Capt. Hyatt.

May 16th 1864. }

I sent you a few days since a list of casuallties [sic] in Co. B, but must now make some corrections.  Capt. CONVERSE was wounded in the thigh and fell into the hands of the enemy.  They carried him to their hospital, and amputated his leg, and two days afterwards he died.  My information is reliable as one of the 19th Ind. Regt. was taken prisoner at the same time and was with the captain when he died, and has since made his escape and told me of the fate of our noble and patriotic commander.  His remains can not be obtained as our army do not occupy the ground where he was buried.  Thos. ALVERSON is dead ;  he was badly wounded and died soon after reaching the hospital.

FRANK HARE was reported wounded and missing, but he is in a rebel hospital, and has had one leg amputated.—FIELDING has lost an arm.

All the men not reported wounded or missing are all right.  So those who have friends here whose names do not appear on the casualty list, can rest as assured that they are well.


Capt. Rollin P. Converse.

CAPT. ROLLIN P. CONVERSE is dead !  In the first of that terrible series of battles in “The Wilderness,” on the 5th of May, he was shot, fell into the enemy’s hands, and died two days afterwards.

He met his fate where he had so often braved it, right on the perilous edge of the battle, where the strife was deadliest, and the brave were emulating each other in deeds of valor, in defence of the most righteous cause in which sword was ever drawn.

Capt. CONVERSE was nearly twenty-four years of age.  He was born in Pierpont, St. Lawrence county, N. Y., the son of PAINE CONVERSE, Esq, of this city, well known in Norther New York.  For some time previous to the breaking out of the war, Capt. Converse had resided here, and at once responded to the first call for troops.

He left here as 2nd Sergeant of the “Prescott Guards,” on the 22nd of June, 1861.  He was made 2nd Lieut. in the October following, and in January, 1862, was promoted to 1st Lieut., which position he held until the next summer, when he was promoted to Captain of Co. B, 6th Wis., “Iron Brigade,” which position he held at the time of his death.

At the battle of Antietam he was severely wounded, and came home on a furlough.  Anxious to be with his company, he returned before he was able, and by reason of exertion and fatigue at the battle of Fredericksburg, his wound broke out, and for about three months, he was under the Surgeon’s care, and his life in critical condition.

Since his recovery, he has been steadily with his regiment, except when detailed as aid [sic] on the staff of Gens. GIBBON [John Gibbon] and MERIDITH [sic].¹  He has been in ten of the severest battles of the war, but it is unnecessary to trace his course through the Virginia campaigns, as he was on every battle field where the “Iron Brigade” won immortal renown.

One of the first who determined to remain in the service, his company were furloughed in January last as veteran volunteers, and were warmly welcomed home.  He, like many others, continued in the service after he could have honorably retired, not because he loved to fight, but because the country needed her veteran soldiers.

No officer was ever more loved by his men, and none was ever more deserving of love, while he won the confidence and respect of his brother officers by his undaunted courage, and the coolness and judgement he always displayed in dangerous situations.

Young in years—rich in all noble qualities of manhood—dear to a large circle of friends—with an honorable reputation as a soldier, his life has been laid down in a noble cause.  In the short time he lay in the enemy’s hands, waiting the sure arrival of death, we do not believe he deemed the sacrifice too great.  Loved friend, brave heart, true soldier,—FAREWELL !

1.  Solomon Meredith (1810-1875) was a prominent Indiana farmer, politician, and lawman who was a controversial Union Army general in the American Civil War. He gained fame as one of the commanders of the Iron Brigade of the Army of the Potomac, leading the brigade in the Battle of Gettysburg where he was severely wounded and was unfit for any further field command.

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