Youngest General of the Confederate Army. From the Opelika Post, Ala., January 4, 1908.Something of the life of Gen. George Paul Harrison, Jr., as a citizen and warrior.
Reading a war story about General George Paul Harrison in a Western paper, the editor of The Post called on General Harrison a few days since and had an interesting talk with him on the war and his experiences. General Harrison was born twelve miles from Savannah, on Monteith plantation, on the Georgia side of the river, and was reared by well-to-do blue-blooded parents, his father being related to Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia, whose name was attached to the Declaration of Independence, and whose descendants included the ninth and twenty-ninth Presidents of the United States. The boyhood days of General Harrison were spent on the plantation, and he became an expert rider and marksman, with a soldierly tendency. This being true, he was sent to the Georgia Military Institute, at Marietta, where he remained till January 3, 1861, when he laid aside school books and took up the rifle and sword, the South having cut loose from the United States. He took part with the Georgia troops in the seizure of Port Pulaski, a few days later enrolling as second lieutenant in the 1st Georgia Regulars. He made for himself such a record at Port Pulaski that Governor John Brown made him military commandant of his school, the Marietta Institute, where he remained till May, when he graduated and received a diploma. Again he joined his regiment and went with it to Virginia, where he was made adjutant. (During this time his father, George Paul-Harrison, Sr., had joined the army. He served during the war, reaching the distinction of brigadier-general)  [Colonel Charles C. Jones, Jr., in his ‘Confederate Roster,’ gives the ‘date of appointment’ and ‘date of rank’ of George Paul Harrison, Jr., as ‘February 7, 1865,’ and to report to G. M. Hardee.] In the winter of 1861-62, General Harrison was made Colonel of the 5th Georgia Regiment, which he commanded for six months. He then organized and was made Colonel of the 32nd Georgia Infantry, serving in that rank, but commanding a brigade for about fifteen months, in 1863-64, after brilliant service in the battle of Olustree, Fla., where the Federals suffered defeat. In the defense of Charleston he was an important factor, and during the Federal assault upon Fort Wagner, on July 22, 1863, he arrived with his regiment just in time to reinforce the garrison and crush the Federals. When Fort Wagner later had to be given up, he went to Christ Church Parish with his command and assisted the garrison at Sumter until 1865. After reaching the rank of Brigadier General, he continued to command a brigade of A. P. Stewart's corps during the campaigns in the Carolinas. At this time he was only 23 years of age, and was the youngest Brigadier-General in the Confederate Army. He was wounded three times, twice at John's Island and once at Olustree, where his horse was shot from under him. For some time he was in command at Florence, S. C., where he built a stockade for Federal prisoners and had charge of about 25,000. He made many friends among the captives for his humane and kind treatment of them, and on the fall of Savannah, where his family resided, the Federal commander gave orders that they be permitted to remain in the city and their material wants supplied, in appreciation of his kindness to their comrades. General Harrison was 24 years old at the close of the war, and he returned to Savannah for a short time, moving to Opelika, where he has since resided, living a very active life. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875, the State Senate from 1876 to 1884, and in Congress at Washington a part of the Fifty-third, and all of the Fifty-fourth Congress. He is a prominent member of the Methodist denomination,  and ranks high in the Masonic fraternity, and is Major-General of the Alabama Division of the United Confederate Veterans. General Harrison has a case containing a number of relics of the cruel war, among which are to be seen a well-preserved flag of the 32nd Georgia Regiment, made of the silk dresses of two young ladies, and presented to General Harrison by Miss Fannie Cohen (now Mrs. Taylor, of Savannah). To keep this flag from being captured it was substituted and sewed to the General's saddle blanket and concealed from the enemy. General Harrison is in perfect health and looks to be a man several years younger, and every indication points to his being among us many years to come, and that such will be the case, The Post and his many friends sincerely trust. [The merit of General George Paul Harrison, Jr., is cordially conceded, but there may have been other officers with the rank of Brigadier-General as young as he was. It has been claimed that General Thomas M. Logan, of South Carolina, commissioned Brigadier-General of Cavalry, February 23, 1865, to report to General Robert E. Lee, with rank to date from February 15, 1865, was the youngest officer of the rank in the Confederate States Army. Another youthful commander is in evidence, General William R. Johnson Pegram, whose signature was ‘W. J. Pegram.’ He was born in Petersburg, Va., in 1841; grandson of General Wm. R. Johnson, ‘the Napoleon of the turf,’ son of General James W. Pegram, and nephew of Colonel Geo. H. Pegram, the Confederate commander of the battle of Rich Mountain. W. J. Pegram left the study of law at the University of Virginia in April, 1861, and enlisted as a private in ‘F’ Company, of Richmond, Va. ‘Willie’ Pegram was of small stature and wore glasses, but he was every inch a soldier, and born to command. While in camp at Fredericksburg, Va., in May, 1861, he was elected a lieutenant of the Purcell Battery of Artillery, commanded by Captain R. Lindsay Walker (subsequently Brigadier-General), and distinguished himself by conspicious gallantry at Manassas, Cedar Run, Chancellorville and Gettysburg, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of Artillery. Under an act of the Congress of the Confederate States he was appointed to the  provisional rank of Brigadier General, in March, 1865, and ordered to report to General R. E. Lee. He was assigned to the command of a brigade, and was killed in front of Petersburg, Va., April 2, 1865.—editor.]