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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

He Bore the Scars of Battle, Calvin Augustus Craig



Born in 1833 in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, Calvin Craig was someone who would be there to help when someone, anyone was in need. He did not have mere friends. He only had deep and enduring friendships. It was just the way he was. Just prior to the war, Calvin helped his father in his lumbering and mercantile business.

When the war broke out, he joined a ninety days regiment as private and eventually joined the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and given a Captain's commission. He believed deeply that, “it was my duty that I owed my country. If I fail, it has been an error of the head and not of my heart.” On May 4, 1863, he was made their Lieutenant Colonel following Chancellorsville in the immediate days following the fight.

The 105th PA was part of Dan Sickles' III Corps, in General Graham’s Brigade, and the regiment was one of the units that was on Emmitsburg Rd when Barksdale’s Confederate Brigade sliced into the Federal line on July 2nd at Gettysburg. The 105th suffered almost 50% casualties by the end of the day. In Craig’s report following that day, he wrote:

"The regiment never fought better in the world. When they moved forward on the charge. They moved at 'double quick,' and with scarcely an inch of difference in their glittering bayonets, every man at his post-oh I but I did feel proud of them. I know I have a kind of weakness for this regiment; for I tell you, it is a regiment to be proud of."

He later wrote, "I love my country, I and am willing to fight for her; and, if needs be, to die for her." Many letters and reports showed the true patriotism of the man, 'and the unselfishness of his character, for he was bound to his home.' On the 1st of February, 1864, while at home on veteran furlough, after the re-enlistment to his regiment, now Colonel Craig was married to Miss Elmira J. Craig, of Greenville.

Craig was in all the battles in which his regiment took part, from the siege of Yorktown to Petersburg, with exceptions of Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, when wounds prevented his participation. He received wounds, one in the head slightly at Seven Days in the Summer of 1862. At Second Bull Run when his horse was killed, he was severely wounded in the ankle, at Gettysburg he had three horses shot under him; at the battle of the Wilderness he was shot in the face, severing the facial artery. It was with the help of some of his men, who, for thirty-six hours, stood with fingers pressed to his wound, until he could reach medical help. At “Grant’s Second Offensive" Craig was slightly wounded in the shoulder by a piece of shell. At the battle of Second Deep Bottom, Va., August 16, 1864, while leading the Brigade, Craig received a mortal wounded to the head, and lingered in and out of unconsciousness until the next day, when he redeemed his pledge to "die, if needs be for his country.”

By Second Deep Bottom, anyone looking at Craig might know of his ‘62 and ‘63 wounds, clearly see the scars on his face from Wilderness and a favoring of his shoulder from his wound of a few brief weeks prior to August.

Calvin Craig's remains were taken by his brother, J. H. Craig, who served with him all through the war. J.H. brought home his brother's body to Craig’s new wife. His grave was placed in the shadow of the pines overlooking his boyhood home.



Sources:

History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania Sketches of some of its prominent pioneers. edited by: A. J. Davis, D. Mason & Co., Publishers 1887.


Horn, John, The Siege of Petersburg, Savas Beatie, 2015.

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