(1840 - 1864)
Home State: South Carolina
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: Hampton (SC) Legion
Son of Manx grocer Edward Gelling (1799-1856), he was orphaned in December 1856 at age 16 and went to New Orleans to work for his uncle the next year. By 1861 he was in Charleston, SC and a Corporal in the Charleston Zouaves militia company, and he was with them on Morris Island during the siege of Fort Sumter in April. On 7 September 1861 he enlisted, and on 26 October mustered as 3rd Sergeant, Company H, Hampton Legion Infantry. He was court-martialed on 29 April 1862 (charges not known) and reduced to Private.
On the Campaign
He saw action as a skirmisher at Fox's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September and was wounded by a gunshot to his thigh and captured in combat along the Hagerstown Pike near the Miller cornfield at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862.
The rest of the War
He was admitted to a US Army hospital in Frederick, MD on 29 September, transferred to Philadelphia on 1 October, and admitted to the US Army General Hospital in Chester, PA on 2 October. On 5 May 1863, after he recovered, he was sent to Fort McHenry in Baltimore and then on to Fortress Monroe, VA on 10 May for exchange. He returned to duty and was wounded again, slightly, at Wills Valley (Lookout Valley), TN on 18 November 1863.
In February 1864 he was elected Junior 2nd Lieutenant of Company C of the newly reorganized 27th South Carolina Infantry. At Petersburg, VA ...
... the 16th June , was the anniversary of the battle of Secessionville, and the first shell fired by the enemy in the gloaming, and when it was yet entirely too dark to know more than the general direction in which to aim it, killed Captains [J. Ward] Hopkins and [Barnwell W.] Palmer and Lieutenant [George Brown] Gelling, of the Twenty-seventh regiment, who had all served with distinction in that battle...He was mortally wounded on his right side and hip and died later the same day.
References & notes
His service from the Rolls,1 the Card Index,2 his Compiled Service Records, and Priest,3 citing a 22 September 1862 letter of Sgt. E.S. Welch. The quote above from Johnson Hagood's Memoirs of the War of Secession (1871, pub. 1910). Sharpsburg wound and hospital details from the Patient List,4 as G.B. Gilley. Personal details from family genealogists and a bio sketch by John Murray of the American Civil War Round Table UK. His gravesite is on Findagrave. He also has a memorial in the family plot in the Braddan New Cemetery, Douglas.
His mother Mary Brown Gelling (1802-1846) was born in Scotland.
His step-mother Eleanor Ann Milbourne Gilling sent him off to America in October 1857 with a bible. She had it back by 1882 when she gave it to her nephew, also named George Brown Gelling (1877-1913), "In remembrance of his uncle." That George was son of our George's older brother Daniel Edward Gelling (1836-1891). It is now owned by a woman in Victoria, Australia, who found it in an antique shop in Sydney in about 1998.
12/31/1840; Douglas, ISLE OF MAN
06/16/1864 Petersburg, VA; burial in First Scots Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Charleston, SC
1 Thomas, John P., and and previous SC Historians of the Confederate Records, Confederate Rolls of South Carolina, Columbia: Historian of Confederate Records, 1898, Roll of Company H, Hampton Legion, South Carolina Vols. [AotW citation 24133]
2 Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Confederate Officers Card Index, Springfield, TN: MOS&B, 2014 [AotW citation 24134]
3 Priest, John Michael, Before Antietam: the Battle for South Mountain, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, pg. 218 [AotW citation 24135]
4 National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and Terry Reimer, Frederick Patient List, Published 2018, first accessed 17 September 2018, <http://www.civilwarmed.org/explore/primary-sources/databases/frederickpatient/>, Source page: patient #668 [AotW citation 24136]