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
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
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.