Rollin P. Converse (1840-1864)
Rollin Pain Converse was born September 16, 1840, in Cotton (Saint Lawrence County), New York, to Pain Converse (1801-1883) and Anna Hall Converse (1801-1858). The Converse family had moved to Prescott (Pierce County), Wisconsin, by 1860.
He is buried in Pine Glen Cemetery in Prescott, Wisconsin.
Obituary from the May 28, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal:
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: Solomon Meredith]. 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 !
The June 24, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal includes this article:
A reliable account has at last been received of the death of Captain ROLLIN P. CONVERSE. Frank Hare, of Oak Grove, member of Co. B., who has just returned, was wounded in the same battle in which Capt. Converse fell, was carried off the field in company with him, and was with him when he died.
Capt. Converse was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness, on the morning of May 5th and died the next day. He received four wounds, one through the groin, being the immediate cause of his death. The Capt. knew that his wounds were fatal, and was sensible to the last. Mr. Hare saved some of his papers and effects, but they were taken from him by the rebels.
Mr. Hare has been an inmate of most of the Southern prisons and confirms all that has been said of the inhuman treatment of our soldiers received. His own suffrage may be inferred from the fact, that his average weight is 176 lbs, and when released he was so emaciated by starvation that he weighted but 59 pounds. His statement of the treatment our soldiers experienced at Andersonville is almost too horrible for belief. Hare believes in having Jeff. Davis hung.
The following story comes from The Converse Family and Allied Families, by Charles Allen Converse, page 427 (available on RootsWeb Free Pages, accessed 30 May 2014):
Gen. A. J. Kellogg was taken prisoner at the same time, and in a speech at Hamilton, 21 Feb 1868, speaking of acts of heroism by the officers and men in his regiment, he said that Capt. Converse and Corporal Hair [sic: Hare, Frank] were lying side by side under a tree, near the corral of prisoners, both badly wounded, and Hair had already undergone the amputation of one leg. The Captain overheard two rebel surgeons concluding to experiment upon his yet breathing body, and whispered to Hair, telling him where he would find a small revolver which had been overlooked by the enemy when they took his side arms; and directed him to take it, and not permit any one to disturb him until he died. When the Confederate surgeons came to remove Capt. Converse, Hair quickly cocked the revolver, and told them that he would shoot the first man who laid hands on his Captain. Weapons were leveled on Hair with threats of instant death if he did not surrender his pistol; but he only laughed at them, asking what they supposed he cared for his life with only one leg. At last the surgeons, tired out by his pertinacity, and admiring his bravery, gave up the contest. A Confederate officer standing by remarked that he would like a regiment of such men. This aroused Capt. Converse in his dying moments. “I had the honor,” said he, “to command a hundred just such men. The North is full of them. Sooner or later, the rebel flag will be trampled under their feet.” And with these brave prophetic words he gave up his young life a willing sacrifice upon the altar of his country.