(1826 - 1885)
Home State: Pennsylvania
Branch of Service: Artillery
He enlisted in Battery C of the 2nd US Artillery on 1 June 1853 and rose from Private to First Sergeant by the end of his term on 31 May 1858. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, First US Artillery on 23 March 1861, and promoted to First Lieutenant on 14 May 1861.
On the Campaign
He served with his Battery on the Maryland Campaign, and was cited by Captain Graham in his after-action Report:
Lieutenant Elder served his section with remarkable effect, and was principally instrumental in silencing the battery first engaged. His conduct, under an extraordinarily heavy fire, was cool and gallant in the extreme.
The rest of the War
He commanded Battery E, 4th US at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He was promoted to Captain on 1 August 1863. He was honored by brevet to Captain (17 Sep 62) for actions at Antietam, Major (20 Feb 64) for Olustee, FL, and Lieutenant Colonel (5 May 64) for Drury's Bluff, VA. He commanded Battery B, 1st US Artillery at Cold Harbor (1 June 1864). He was captured at Petersburg, VA in June 1864 and was a prisoner at Macon, GA, then Columbia, SC, from which he escaped in November, and returned to his Battery. He is credited with firing the last shot before the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on 9 April 1865, while commanding Battery B, 1st US Artillery.
After the War
He continued in Regular Army service and was promoted to Major, 2nd US Artillery, on 30 June 1882.
References & notes
Service dates from Heitman1. His picture from an 1863 group photograph at the Library of Congress. Birth date from a record of his baptism on 22 December 1826 at the Paxtang Presbyterian Church, in History of the Sesqui-centennial of Paxtang Church (1890). An unsubstantiated story says he was drunk and wandered into enemy lines at Petersburg, resulting in his capture. The New York Times listed him as a prisoner at Libby in Richmond in September 1864.
More on the Web
12/1826 in PA
04/06/1885; Fortress Monroe, VA; burial in Paxtang (Paxton) Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, PA