Civil War & Stephens Co., OK (9)

Lewis Robert Gee (1844-1903)

Lewis Robert Gee was born on April 11, 1844 in Carter County, Kentucky. Following the Civil War, he married Emily Redwine, a native of Fannin County, TX, on August 5, 1868 in McDonald County, Missouri. Lewis and Emily had five children: Annie, Robert David, Thomas Orley, Alice, and Rosa E.

During the Civil War, Lewis served as a Private in Company G of the CSA, 1st Missouri Cavalry (Gates’) Regiment. I don’t know when he enlisted, mustered in, or was discharged. The following summary of the activity of the CSA, 1st Missouri Cavalry (Gates’) Regiment is taken from the National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System website:

“The 1st [Missouri] Cavalry Regiment was formed during summer of 1861. Many of its members had served with the Missouri State Guard. The unit fought at Elkhorn Tavern [aka: Pea Ridge], then moved east of the Mississippi River and was dismounted. After fighting at Iuka and Corinth, it was assigned to M.E. Green’s Brigade, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. It took an active part in the fight at Big Black River Bridge and on July 4, 1863, was captured at Vicksburg. After the exchange it was assigned to General Cockrell’s Brigade, and consolidated with the 3rd (Samuel’s) Missouri Cavalry Battalion. It fought with the Army of Tennessee throughout the Atlanta Campaign and was part of Hood’s operations in Tennessee. Later it was involved in the defense of Mobile. On May 4, 1862, the regiment contained 536 effectives and lost 9 killed and 54 wounded at Corinth. The 1st/3rd Battalion reported 25 killed, 80 wounded, and 3 missing during the Atlanta Campaign and sustained 56 casualties at Allatoona. The small command surrendered with the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The field officers were Colonel Elijah Gates; Lieutenant Colonels Richard B. Chiles, George W. Law, and William D. Maupin; and Majors Robert R. Lawther and William C. Parker.”

Though I don’t know if Lewis Robert Gee was present at the time, I know that if he was with the 1st Missouri Cavalry on May 16, 1863, he was engaged not only in some fierce combat at Champion Hill (aka: Baker’s Creek or Baker’s Bridge). Following is an excerpt from a report given by Elijah Gates, the Colonel of the 1st Missouri Cavalry, concerning his regiment’s experience that day:

“About sunrise the 16th, a skirmish commenced with General Grant’s and General Pemberton’s troops. I was ordered by General Green to call my men in line and move by the right companies to the rear, which we did, first and last, to the distance of about a mile. We halted, about-faced, and moved to the front some 600 yards and halted in the timber. I occupied the right of Green’s brigade. General Green sent me word that General Loring was preparing for a charge, and did not want his brigade to be behind in the charge. We remained in this position, I suppose, about an hour. By this time the enemy had attacked General Stevenson, on our left. We were then moved by the left flank at a double-quick nearly three-fourths of a mile; were then put in line of battle and moved to the front 200 or 300 yards before we commenced firing. There Colonel Cockrell met me with his saber in hand, and exclaimed he was very glad to see me, for he had been under a desperate fire. I immediately ordered a charge, which my men obeyed as promptly as I ever saw troops in my life. We drove the enemy about a half or three-quarters of a mile through a corn-field and across some deep ravines before they brought us to a stand. This was under a desperate fire. They occupied one ridge and I another, with a deep, narrow ravine between us. There they shot my horse three times, and he lay down and died like a soldier. Three times I tried to drive them from their position, but my men were not able to ascend the hill on which the enemy’s line was formed.

“At different times my adjutant came to me to know what we were to do for ammunition. I told him to take the ammunition from the dead and wounded that lay on the field. My loss here was upward of 100 men.

“We held our position until we were forced for the want of ammunition to fall back. This, I think, was about 3 o’clock. I then saw General Green. He said that the orders were to fall back beyond Baker’s Creek, below the bridge over which we had crossed in going out the night before. We did so, and formed in an open field, to hold the crossing until General Loring could cross. The enemy crossed the creek above where we did, and commenced a heavy cannonade upon us, and soon drove us from our position, though in the mean while we replenished our ammunition. We then took the road toward Edwards Depot and Big Black Bridge. I got there about 11 o’clock, and crossed the river to my wagon train.”

From maps showing troop positions at Champion Hill, it is clear that some of the troops with which the 1st Missouri Cavalry was engaged that day was the 5th Iowa Infantry, the regiment in which the veteran we spotlighted last week, L.A. King, fought. Depending on when Lewis Robert Gee served with the 1st Missouri Cavalry, it’s quite possible that Leprelette Asa King and Lewis Robert Gee traded shots at each other that day at Champion Hill. Later in life they would both come to die within one year of each other and be buried in Stephens County, Oklahoma.

Lewis Robert Gee died on January 31, 1903 in Lawton, Oklahoma and is buried in the Sandy Bear (aka: Winter) Cemetery.

would I wish her back?

Lewis, grieving the death of his wife, Joy:

What sort of lover am I to think so much about my affliction and so much less about hers? Even the insane call, “Come back,” is all for my own sake. I never even raised the question whether such a return , if it were possible, would be good for her. I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal?

from A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (as recorded in A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works, p.239)