(1842 - 1925)
Home State: Alabama
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 4th Alabama Infantry
An 18 year old student at the LaGrange Military Academy in Huntsville, he enlisted as a Private in Company F, 4th Alabama Infantry on 26 April 1861. He was appointed Sergeant Major of the Regiment on 2 May 1861. He was appointed Adjutant in April 1862 at the regimental reorganization. He was wounded in action at Gaines' Mill, VA on 27 June 1862.
On the Campaign
He later wrote something of his experience at Sharpsburg:
We had now been engaged almost three hours fighting desperately without any intermission, most of the men had exhausted their ammunition, and all had exhausted themselves in their efforts to drive the enemy from his position ... General Hood kept his staff and couriers busy going over the field directing the scattered men of the Division to assemble in the rear of Dunker Church.
Just as we reached the Church, Lieutenant King of F Company ... had the whole top of his head blown off by a shell. As Captain Karsner, Lieutenant Dan Turner and I were slowly wending our way in that direction, a shell of the enemy from over on the right of the line bursting near us, a fragment struck Karsner's too prominent nose. The shock was so great it knocked him a severe fall, at full length upon his back. We ran to him, thinking he was killed. On examination, as he still remained where he fell, though bleeding profusely, we found the wound very slight. With the blood running down in his eyes and mouth, he presented, lying there, a most ludicrous sight, so much that it was impossible to avert a smile on our part. He imagined that the missile had gone entirely through his head, so great was the shock; and when he observed that we entertained so little feeling for a "dying" comrade, promptly arose and, still quite dazed, abused us soundly for our lack of sympathy. After being convinced that it was nothing serious, he soon regained his usual merry mood.
Just then General Hood was seen approaching from the rear ... Lieutenant Turner remarked, "Captain, wipe that blood from your face before General Hood reaches us." "No," he said, "I'll see see if I can make him sympathize with me." He then, with his hands, smeared the clotted blood thickly over his face. General Hood exclaimed as he rode up, "My God! Captain, I am sorry to see you so seriously wounded." "Yes, General," he said, "I came very near getting my face shot off." General Hood was as sympathetic as a woman.
The rest of the War
He served as Adjutant to the end of the War.
After the War
By 1907 he was living in Upton, AL.
References & notes
Service details from the Alabama Archives1. The picture here from a photograph also in the State Archives. His gravesite is on Findagrave. Coles' own regimental history, source of the quote above, was published as From Huntsville to Appomattox: R. T. Coles's History of 4th Regiment (1996), Jeffrey D. Stocker, editor.
06/29/1842; Pittsylvania County, VA
02/12/1925; burial in Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL