(1829 - 1885)
Home State: Pennsylvania
Branch of Service: Infantry
He went to Philadelphia in 1851, and enrolled as 1st Lieutenant in Company C of the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry on 16 August 1862.
On the Campaign
He was in action at Shepherdstown on 20 September, and was promoted to Captain and sent to command Company K on the death of Captain Saunders there. On September 21 ...
The sensibilities of Lieutenant Lemuel L. Crocker had been aroused by the necessary abandonment of the dead and wounded, left uncared for and unattended in the precipitate withdrawal. He entreated Colonel [James] Barnes so earnestly for permission to go and care for the forsaken ones, that the colonel, fully comprehending the impropriety of the request, at last reluctantly consented to present it to General Fitz-John Porter, the corps commander. It met with a flat, emphatic refusal. There was no communication with the enemy, and it was not proposed to open any. War was war, and this was neither the time nor the occasion for sentiment or sympathy. But Crocker was not to be deterred in his errand of mercy, and, in positive disregard of instructions, proceeded with deliberately, full accoutred with sword, belt and pistol, to cross the river at the breast of the dam. It was a novel spectacle for an officer, armed with all he was entitled to carry, to thus commence a lonesome advance against a whole army corps. Bound upon an unauthorized mission of peace and humanity, a little experience might have taught him his reception would have been more cordial if he had left his weapons at home. Still, it was Crocker's heart at work, and its honest, manly beats bade him face the danger.
He found the bodies of Saunders, Rickets and Moss, and Private Mishaw badly wounded, but still alive. He was bearing them, one by one, upon his shoulders to the river-bank, when he was suddenly interrupted by an orderly from General Porter, who informed him that he was instructed to direct him to return at once or he would order a battery to shell him out. His reply was: "Shell and be damned!" He didn't propose to return until the full purpose of his undertaking had been accomplished.
The orderly thus abruptly disposed of, he continued his operations, when he was again interrupted by an authority which, if it failed to command respect, could enforce obedience. He had carried all the bodies to the bank, and was returning for the wounded Mishaw, when a Confederate general - whom Crocker always thought was Lee, but in this he was evidently mistaken - accompanied by a numerous staff, came upon the ground. An aide-de-camp rode up, inquiring with some asperity - explaining that no flag of truce was in operation - as to who and what he was, his purpose in being there, and by whose authority.
Crocker's work, which he had conducted wholly himself, had put him in a sorry plight. He was of large frame, muscular, and finely proportioned. He had carried the bodies over his left shoulder and was absolutely covered with blood and dirt, almost unrecognizable as a soldier, and his voice and form alone indicated his manhood. His reply was prompt and ingenuous: he had been refused permission to cross by his corps commander, to whom he had made his purpose known; the dead and wounded of the regiment that fought on that ground yesterday were of the blood of Philadelphia's best citizens, and, regardless of the laws of war and the commands of his superiors, he was of the opinion that humanity and decency demanded that they be properly cared for, which, no one else attempting, he had determined to risk the consequences and discharge the duty himself. The simplicity and earnestness of this reply prompted the further interrogation as to how long he had been in the service. "Twenty days," responded Crocker. The gentle "I thought so" from the lips of the veteran general showed that the ingenuousness and sincerity had wholly captured him. He bade him continue his labors until they were fully completed, pointed out a boat on the shore that he could utilize to ferry his precious freight across the stream, and surrounded the field with a cordon of cavalry patrols to protect him from further molestation or interruption.
The rest of the War
He resigned his commission on 26 February 1864, probably to care for his very ill wife.
After the War
After the War he lived in Buffalo, New York. He ran cattle depots for the New York Central Railroad, and was in fertilizer and brewing businesses.
References & notes
Biographical information, the story of his post-battle actions, and his picture - an etching from a photo - from Smith1.
1829; Albany, NY
1885; burial in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY