Memorial service will honor CSA private
Published 11:10 pm Monday, April 19, 2010
When the federal census was taken on July 7, 1860, Henry Stone was 15 years old, living in Selma with his father, John M. Stone age 46; older brother, John B. 17; and younger siblings, Mary 13, Melissa 9, Fannie 7, and Thornton 5. There was no mention of his mother.
Just nine months later, only two weeks after the firing on Fort Sumter and eleven days after Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers, Henry and his brother John answered the patriotic call of their new nation by joining at Selma on April 26, 1861, the Governors Guards which was formed by Captain Thomas J. Goldsby, and which became Company A of the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment. Henry was listed as both a student and a clerk and at 16 years of age it’s not hard to imagine him, just like today’s teenagers, attending school in the morning and working in the afternoon.
According to their service records Henry and John Stone were present at the battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861 when the Fourth Alabama stood alone on Matthews Hill for nearly an hour, driving back three advancing Federal columns before being outflanked on the right and left. Only after receiving fire from three sides were they ordered to fall back. They were later in action in Virginia at Eltham’s Landing, Seven Pines and First Cold Harbor.
It was at Cold Harbor on June 29th, 1862 that the Fourth Alabama of Law’s Brigade advanced to the attack in two lines. The 11th Mississippi and the 4th Alabama forming the first line, the 2nd Mississippi and the 6th North Carolina the second. Passing over a scattering line of Confederates on the ridge in front, the whole division “ broke into a trot” down the slope toward the Federal works. The Federal artillery tore gaps in the ranks at every step, the ground in rear of the advancing column was strewn thickly with the dead and wounded; but not a gun was fired in reply; there was no confusion, and not a step faltered as the two gray lines swept silently and swiftly on; the pace became more rapid every moment. When the men were within thirty yards of the ravine, and could see the desperate nature of the work at hand, a wild yell answered the roar of Federal musketry, and they rushed for the works. The Confederates were within 10 paces of them when the Federals in the front line broke cover, and, leaving their log breast- works, swarmed up the hill in their rear, carrying away their second line with them in their rout. As the blue mass surged up the hill in their front, the Confederate fire was poured into it with terrible effect. The debt of blood contracted but a few moments before was paid, and with interest.
It was during this charge that Henry P. Stone, then 17 years of age, was killed.
His brother John B. Stone survived the war after being wounded three times, twice severely, and obtaining the rank of lieutenant. He died May 31, 1925, at the age of 82.
In Old Live Oak Cemetery is found a grave marker which stands as testimony to a family’s grief. A fitting monument, erected by his brother, upon which is etched the following words:
“Erected to Henry P. Stone, Who was killed in a bayonet charge at Cold Harbor in the Seven Day battle around Richmond Virginia, June 27, 1862.
“In age a boy. In courage, a man, who feared no danger.”
The April 1865 Society Inc. and the Military Command of the Alabama Division of Re-enactors invites you to join them Sunday morning at historic Live Oak Cemetery for a Memorial Service honoring the memory of Private Henry P. Stone, Captain Catesby Jones and others. This free event begins at 10:30 am.
For more information, go to www.battleofselma.com.