Monday, May 7, 2012

A Live Major General or a Dead Brigadier: Abner Monroe Perrin

Brigadier General Abner Monroe Perrin

       Part of the problem of living with a sleep disorder is finding yourself wide awake at five in the morning and wishing you were asleep. Of course falling asleep about four yesterday afternoon and waking up at midnight has something to do with it. I thought I would use this time writing about one of my favorite Confederate generals. 
       Abner Perrin was born in 1827 in South Carolina. He fought in the Mexican War at the age of 19 and earned promotion to lieutenant while there. Following that war, he returned to South Carolina where he became an attorney. When the Civil War began, Perrin was elected captain in the 14th South Carolina Infantry.
       They would see their first action in the Seven Days battles around Richmond in the summer of 1862. Perrin and his men were heavily engaged at both Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm during the now famous Seven Days Campaign. 
       They fought at Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg (Antietam), and Fredericksburg. Perrin was slightly wounded at Fredericksburg where his brigade commander Maxcy Gregg was killed. Perrin received a promotion to colonel in January of 1863. At Chancellorsville when all the senior officers were killed or wounded, Perrin was placed in charge of the brigade. He would travel to Gettysburg in command of the brigade, but still only ranked colonel. He lost almost half his brigade in the attack on the first day there, but he led the brigade forward and broke the Federal line in his front. 
       Perrin was promoted to brigadier general in September of 1863. When his former commander Samuel McGowan returned to duty in February of 1864 after his long recuperation from Chancellorsville, Perrin took command of Wilcox's Alabama Brigade. He led his new brigade at the Wilderness, again proving himself to be a great leader. 

The "Mule Shoe" at Spotsylvania

       At Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, Perrin was ordered to lead his brigade of Alabamians into the breach when the Federals overran the "Mule Shoe." He said, "I shall come out of this fight a live major general or a dead brigadier." He led his men into the breach and helped close the gap, stopping the Federal advance. Perrin didn't live to see his men triumph. He fell from his horse struck by several bullets. His body would be carried back to Fredericksburg, Virginia and buried in the City Cemetery. Although he didn't receive his desired promotion to major general, he was deserving of such rank. He'd proven himself on many battlefields and the wonder is that such a brave man lived as long as he did. 

Grave of Abner Monroe Perrin

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