Friday, August 27, 2010

The Boy Major

“The Boy Major” Joseph White Latimer was born August 27th 1843 in Oak Ridge, Prince William, Virginia. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and studied artillery under Thomas J “Stonewall" Jackson. The Civil War broke out while Latimer was in his second year at VMI, and he left the school to serve with the Confederacy. His first service was with the Richmond Hampden Artillery. In the fall of 1861 he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant.

Latimer saw his first action during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862. He distinguished himself in the Battles of First Winchester and Cedar Mountain. He was placed in command of the battalion of AR Courtney, and was promoted to Major in March 1863, serving in Major Richard Snowden Andrew’s Battalion a part of Major General Edward “Allegheny” Johnson’s Division. Andrews was wounded at the Battle of Stephenson’s Depot and Latimer took over command of the Battalion for the Gettysburg Campaign.

On July 2nd 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg, Latimer was commanding the artillery on Benner’s Hill. The Confederate guns were supporting an attack on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. His position was exposed to Union guns and the unit found themselves under heavy fire. Latimer began to have the guns removed from the hill and while directing fire from the remaining four guns, a shell exploded killing his horse and wounding his right arm. He was taken to the Daniel Lady Farm where his arm was amputated. He was moved from there to Winchester, and then to the home of ETH Warren in Harrisonburg, Virginia, as the Confederates retreated from Gettysburg. Latimer developed gangrene and died August 1st 1863. He is buried in the Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg.

1 comment:

Union soldier said...

He should have stayed in college.