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S.H. Sims

S.H. Sims

Federal (USV)


Samuel Harris Sims

(1829 - 1864)

Home State: New York

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 51st New York Infantry

Before Antietam

A 31 year old stained-glass maker in Brooklyn, he enrolled there on 23 April 1861 and was commissioned 3rd Lieutenant, Company B, 13th New York Infantry for 3 months' service, and mustered out with them on 6 August. On 16 August he enrolled again, for three years, and mustered as Captain, Company G, 51st New York Infantry on 15 October 1861.

On the Campaign

He commanded his Company in the successful assault on the Lower Bridge at Antietam on 17 September 1862.

The rest of the War

He was killed in action rallying troops in the Crater at Petersburg, VA on 30 July 1864. George W. Whitman (Walt's brother), a fellow Captain of the 51st New York wrote of that action:

Poor Cap Sims led the right wing in fine style, and just before we reached their works the Johnies skedaddled. Our orders were to take the works and hold them, but after we had held them for about two hours, the rebs massed a heavy force, in a ravine just in front of us, but out of our sight, and came down on us like a whirlwind, and we were forced to fall back to our old line of works. I tried my best to keep the men from falling back, but Capt Sims was killed just at this time so it was no use trying to rally the men untill they got behind their old works ... [3 days later] During the cessation of hostilities some of our boys went out and brought in the boddy of Capt Sims and it is now on the way to Brooklyn ...

After the War

In an article in the New York Herald in 1880, James F. Steel of South Carolina wrote:

At the battle of the Mine, at Petersburg, 1864, I was Captain of Company I, Seventeenth Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, and in this desperate hand to hand fight, a Captain Sims, of a New York regiment (I think from Brooklyn), as he mounted the breastworks immediately before my company was killed by Sergeant LaMott.

Captain Sims' sword has ever since been in my possession and I have frequently thought of returning it, for it should be possessed by his family as a glorious heirloom of the soldier whose conduct on this occasion was as heroic as ever illustrated any battlefield.
With help from the newspaper, Sims' daughter Lucy received that sword soon afterward.

In 1887-88 the surviviors of his regiment and other veterans raised funds and had an impressive memorial obelisk carved to stand over his previously unmarked grave.

References & notes

His service from the Adjutant General.1 Details and the Whitman quote above from his bio sketch from the Green-Wood Cemetery. The 1880 Herald piece from a note accompanying an 1885 letter from Sims' brother Palin to Walt in the Walt Whitman Archive. His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his picture, from a CDV contributed by Sue Ramsey.

He married Mary Ann Titus (1828-1860) and they had three children. Samuel was a widower before the war, and his sister Lucretia helped raise the children after their father's death.

More on the Web

He wrote a beautiful letter to the widow of Pvt. Thomas Stockwell of his Company who was killed at what became Burnside's bridge at Antietam.


11/25/1829; Manhattan, NY


07/30/1864; Petersburg, VA; burial in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1900, Ser. No. 25, pg. 202  [AotW citation 22474]