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Brigadier General Montgomery D. Corse, P.A.C.S.

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Brigadier General Montgomery D. Corse was born at Alexandria, D.C., March 14, 1816, and after receiving an academic education entered business with his father at his native city. Taking a prominent part in the organization of local militia at the time of the Texas troubles, he served through the Mexican war as captain of Company B, First regiment Virginia volunteers. Early in 1849 he sailed to California, and during the opening of the gold fields was occupied there in various ways, including service as captain of the Sutter Rifles, of Sacramento city, until 1856, when he returned to Alexandria and formed a partnership with his brother in the banking business. In 1860 he organized the "Old Dominion Rifles" at Alexandria, and later in the year became major of he battalion which included the Alexandria Riflemen, Capt. Morton Marye, the Mount Vernon Guard, his own company under Capt. Arthur Herbert, and the Alexandria artillery, Capt. Delaware Kemper. Major Corse served as a assistant adjutant-general until the evacuation of Alexandria, and was then assigned with his battalion to the Seventeenth Virginia regiment, of which he was promoted to colonel. In Longstreet's, later Kemper's brigade, he took part in the affair at Blackburn's ford and the battles of Manassas, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, and the Seven Days' fighting before Richmond. In the second battle of Manassas he commanded the brigade, and was slightly wounded, but continued on duty; fought at Boonsboro, receiving a second wound; and led the remnant of his regiment, 56 men, in the battle of Sharpsburg. The story of their devotion is told by the fact that but seven remained in the ranks at the end of the fight--Maj. Arthur Herbert, Lieut. Thomas Perry, and five privates. Colonel Corse was severely wounded and for a time lay within the enemy's lines, but was recovered by an advance of the Confederate troops. In October, General Kemper forwarded to the secretary of war two battle flags captured by the Seventeenth regiment, asking they be preserved with some honorable mention of the brave men commanded by Colonel Corse, "by whose splendid gallantry the trophies were captured." Upon this communication General Longstreet endorses: "Colonel Corse is one of the most gallant and worthy officers in this army. He and his regiment have been distinguished in at least ten of the severest battles of the war." R. E. Lee added: "This regiment and its gallant colonel challenge the respect and admiration of their countrymen." November 1, 1862, he was promoted to brigadier-general and assigned to the command of Pickett's old brigade. While in winter quarters he obtained leave of absence and was married to Elizabeth Beverly, but was soon afterward called to Fredericksburg to take command of a new brigade of Virginians for Pickett's division, composed of the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Thirtieth and Thirty-second regiments, to which the Twenty-ninth was added later. During the Pennsylvania campaign of 1863, he was on duty with his brigade at Hanover Junction. Rejoining the army near Winchester, he moved in advance as Lee fell back toward the Rappahannock, and rendered valuable service in driving the enemy from Chester and Manassas gaps. In the fall and winter of 1863-64 he took his brigade to southwest Virginia and east Tennessee, co-operating with Longstreet; engaged the enemy at Dandridge in January, and then returned to Petersburg. Ordered at once to Kinston, N.C., he took part in the operations against New Bern until called to the defense of Richmond. He and his brigade were distinguished in the defeat of Butler at Drewry's bluff, May 16th. He shared the service of Pickett's division during the siege of Petersburg and Richmond. In the spring of 1865, Corse and his men fought bravely at Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks, and ended their military career with honor at Sailor's Creek. After the surrender by Ewell, General Corse was conveyed to Fort Warren on the day that Lincoln was assassinated, and he and the fourteen generals accompanying him narrowly escaped the violence of a mob at a town in Pennsylvania, on the next morning. Nothing saved them that day but the pluck and determination of the small guard of Union soldiers and officers who had them in charge. After his release from Fort Warren he returned to Alexandria and engaged in the banking business with his two brothers, J. D. and William Corse. He was very seriously injured in the fall of a part of the capitol at Richmond. It is probable that the injuries received on this occasion caused in part the blindness from which he suffered for some years. With the exception of poor eyesight he was in the best of health about a year before his death, which occurred February 11, 1895, after a short illness.


Source: Evans, Clement, Confederate Military History, Volume III, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899.

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