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The Death of Colonel Sol Williams

We have two contemporary accounts of the death of Colonel Williams.  The first is from Captain W. A. Graham, Captain of Company K, written in April 1901.

"Colonel Sol. Williams was transferred from the Twelfth Infantry to the Second Cavalry  5 June, 1862. His Adjutant, Lieutenant John C. Pegram* came with him. Adjutant Nicholson became Lieutenant of Company A..."

"Colonel Williams gathered his horse to leap the wall, shouting: 'Second Carolina follow me'.  W. A. Graham called to him: 'Colonel, we had better get a line, they are too strong to take this way'.  He replied,  'That will best, where is the flat?' and as we turned, it was not fifty yards to our rear.  He rode to meet it, halted it and was shouting for the men to fall in, when he was shot through the head, and died immediately,  his body being carried from the field by his adjutant, John C. Pegram.     Colonel Williams had been married two weeks before to Miss Maggie, daughter of Captain Pegram, of the Confederate Navy, and had returned to camp on Saturday.  He is beloved by his men; as brave and true a man as was in the army, yet with a gentle affectionate disposition, almost equal to a woman's. Indulgent to his men in camp almost to fault, yet, when duty called and occasion required, he proved himself a leader worthy of their admiration."

The second is from A Virginia Girl in the Civil War 1861-1865 published in 1903:

"In the afternoon we began to hear rumors giving names of the killed and wounded...  Among names of the killed I heard that of Colonel Sol Williams. A day or two before the battle of Brandy he had returned from a furlough to Petersburg, where he had gone to marry a lovely woman, a friend of mine. The day before he was killed he had sat at table with me, chatting pleasantly of mutual friends at home from whom he had brought messages, brimful of happiness, and of the charming wife he had won! As the day waned I sat in my room, wretched and miserable, thinking of my friend who was at once a bride and a widow, and fearing for myself, whose husband even at that moment might be falling under his death wound."

She continues with a narrative about dinner the same evening:

"Another sad thing among the sorrows of that supper was when Colonel Sol Williams's brother-in-law, John [C.]  Pegram*, came in, and sat down in our midst. General Stuart went up to him, and wrung his hand in a silence that even the dauntless Stuart's lips were too tremulous at once to break. When he could speak he said:  'I grieve for myself as for you, lieutenant, but it was a death that any one of us might be proud to die.'

Even then the shadow and glory of his own death was not far from him.

Colonel Williams had been Lieutenant Pegram's superior officer as well as brother-in-law. It had been his sorrowful lot to take the body of his colonel on his horse in front of him, and carry it to a house where it could be reverently cared for until he could send it home to bride and kindred. He had cut a lock of hair from the dead, and when the troops went off to Pennsylvania, he gave it to me for his sister. I shall never forget that supper hour, or how the unhappy young fellow looked when he came in among us after his ride with the dead.."

*Note:  John C. Pegram, brother-in-law of Colonel Sol. Williams, was killed in action, June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, Virginia.


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