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The Beau Sabreur of Georgia. [from the Augusta, Ga., Chronicle, April, 1897.]

A fitting Tribute to the gallant General P. M. B. Young, C. S. A.

At a recent meeting of the Confederate Survivors' Association, in Augusta, President Eve, in lieu of his annual address, read a tribute to the valor and worth of the late General P. M. B. Young, that will prove a valuable addition to the archives of the Association. It is as follows:

Gentlemen of the Confederate Survivors' Association.
I have been selected by your committee to present this tribute to the memory of our old commander and one of your honorary members, General G. M. P. Young. Pardon the seeming egotism —in reference unavoidable—in mentioning his services on the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, and shall offer this in lieu of the customary annual address of the President of this Association, as it is the historian's duty to keep up your records.

Comrades of the Cobb Legion, Georgia Cavalry, little did we think as we marched the streets of Richmond, Va., at our late reunion, to the soul-stirring, familiar airs of our old war songs, that he who had so often ridden at the head of your squadron, whose sabre had so often flashed in your front, the true hero of ‘The Cobb Legion, Georgia Cavalry,’ your Adjutant in 1861, your Major and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1862, your Colonel in 1863, your Brigadier-General in 1864 and 1865, P. M. B. Young, was then lying at the point of death, in the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, far, far away from home, kith and kindred. True to his knightly instincts, when satisfied that he had a mortal hurt, unwilling to be a charge to his numerous friends or for them to witness his agony, he went to die alone! True to his proud spirit, he had wrested for a long time with the dread disease, while his intimates, looking only at that grand physique—‘the typical cavalryman’—whenever a spasm of pain would contract his handsome countenance, recollecting what they had gone through together, would accuse him of becoming a hypochondriac, and he, with a merry laugh, would retort: ‘My heart has gone back on me.’ He who was so well qualified to have [147] made a happy home—who was one of the most lovable of men—as we have served with him know—died in a New York hospital hundreds of miles from his beloved Georgia.

Identified with the Cobb Legion.

His history was our history, his glorious record ours. He was distinctly a creation of ‘The Cobb Legion,’ and they felt that indescribable attachment that men feel fur comrades who have bled with them on more than one hard contested field.

Though General Thomas R. R. Cobb had organized the legion, he was a noted man in Georgia before it was formed. Though Colonel William G. Deloney was our ‘Chevalier Bayard,’ sanspeur et sans reproche, he fell at the zenith of his glory, September, 1863. Though General G. J. Wright was as brave and gallant as man could be, yet they all were older; we expected much of them.

It was not the same feeling we had for Pierce Young. As Colonel Baker, of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, told him at Middletown, Maryland, September 12, 1862, where, after a hard day's fight, incensed at some slighting remark that Baker had made of a charge of ‘The Cobb Legion,’ he defied him to mortal combat then and there, ‘on horseback or on foot, with sabre or pistol, or any way he would fight.’ ‘Why, Pierce, you are nothing but a boy, you forget yourself; I came here to fight Yankees, not as good a soldier as you.’ Unmindful of the emphatic berating of his junior officer, conscious of his own courage, demonstrated in many a fierce encounter, instead of arresting him for disrespect, he laughed at the boyishness displayed even before his own regiment, who, with the older men of Young's Regiment, always so regarded the affront. Far from being perfect, we forgave his faults, even as a father would those of a spoiled child—for a spoiled child in many of his actions was Pierce Young, even to the day of his death.

A West Point cadet, he promptly resigned on the secession of Georgia, and offered his services to the Confederacy, and was assigned to duty as adjutant to Colonel Thomas R. R. Cobb, then organizing his legion ‘on the peninsular.’ Being a born soldier and with his military training, it was easy for him to infuse into that command, then consisting of six companies of infantry, four of cavalry and the afterwards famous Troup Artillery of Athens, the esprit du corps they were so noted for.


The charge at Burkitsville.

Although in nearly all the engagements from Yorktown, around Richmond, Manassas and on the march into Maryland, it was at Burkitsville, September 13, 1862, ‘The Cobb Legion, Georgia Cavalry,’ first asserted its individuality.

With nine skeleton companies, reduced by the casualties of months of hard fighting and marching to less than one-fourth we had started with, Young was ordered and led the sabre charge against McClellan's advance guard on that road, hurrying to the relief of ‘Harper's Ferry,’ hurling back two of their crack regiments, the 8th Illinois and 3d Indiana cavalry, upon the infantry of the ‘Army of the Potomac.’ The picture can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. We had to charge down a steep, rocky lane by twos between stone fences, from whose shelter their dismounted men were firing on us, over a narrow plateau, where we deployed into a company front at the run. The Dougherty Hussars of Albany (who were cut to pieces), leading the Fulton Dragoons, of Atlanta, next, then the Richmond Hussars, his favorites always, and as we passed Colonel Young, he was lying, surrounded by dead and wounded men and horses, in front of a little country church, his dead horse pinning him to the ground. As we came by at full speed, his clarion voice rang out clear and distinct above our yells, ‘Give 'em hell! boys, give 'em hell!’ waving his plumed hat over that handsome face illumined by the fierce excitement of the charge. We crossed the ditch where lay First Lieutenant Marshall and the brave eighty-year-old Sergeant Barksdale, with his snowy beard almost to his waist, his sabre at the guard, the ball through his forehead, then up the steep hill to the stone fences on the crest, from whence the dismounted sharp-shooters vied with the mounted men in seeking the protection of their infantry line of battle. So P. M. B. Young's and the ‘Cobb's Legion's’ reputation was established. So exciting was the charge, that General Hampton, who was always well up in front, snatched off his overcoat and throwing it to his son, with, ‘Take care of my overcoat, Preston,’ drew his sabre and dashed into the fray, followed by that brave boy, who pitched the overcoat into a fence corner, as he ‘had come to Maryland to fight Yankees, and not to carry his father's overcoat.’

The Brandy Station fight.

At Brandy Station the 9th of June, 1863, did Colonel Young recapture [149] Stuart's headquarters and check the triumphant advance of Pleasanton, who had driven back all our cavalry until they met the ‘Cobb Legion.’ ‘I do not claim that this was the turning point of the day.’ (P. M. B. Young's Report, Records of War of the Rebellion, Vol. XXII, p. 732.) As Major Heros Von Borke, the celebrated Prussian officer on General Stuart's staff, said to General Stuart in my presence: ‘Young's regiment made the grandest charge I see on either continent,’ and Brandy Station is considered the greatest cavalry battle of the war.

Wounded again while attempting to lead two regiments of infantry in the charge, which had been sent to reinforce him, he being in command of Hampton's brigade, August 1, 1863, (but although one of the color-bearers rushed out waving his flag following Colonel Young,) both regiments laid down, preferring ‘to fire lying down’ than to follow the cavalry colonel, whose conspicuous uniform, commanding presence and emphatic pleadings for them to ‘forward,’ in tones that ‘could be heard a mile,’ was too fair a mark for the hundreds who were shooting at him, and he was shot through, and once more promoted for ‘gallantry on the field.’

The great Bluff at Culpeper.

Of his saving the commissary and quartermaster trains of the Army of Northern Virginia at Culpeper, October 9, 1863, by a lucky inspiration (bluff the boys called it), by covering the hills with dismounted men as infantry, and one piece of artillery to the hill, which ‘to keep a shooting,’ and keeping the brigade building fires all night and his band playing music, to make the Yankees believe there was a corps instead of the few hundred men he had for ‘duty,’ is too well told by John Esten Cook for me but to incidentally mention. For the third time was he wounded, and as usual in displaying conspicuous gallantry, for which he was promoted major-general of cavalry.

Sherman's forces threatening the powder mills at Augusta, Beauregard, Bragg, the Governors of Georgia and South Carolina appealed for reinforcements from the Army of Northern Virginia. Major-General P. M. B. Young, with a division (?), consisting of 900 dismounted cavalrymen, under the immediate command of Captain F. E. Eve, was all that General Robert E. Lee could spare—and General Young was selected, hoping his men could be mounted and he assist General Wheeler in opposing General Kilpatrick, whose brigade he had defeated at Brandy Station with the sabre, [150] and at the supreme moment of his supposed victory, in the most celebrated cavalry battle of the war. On their arrival in Augusta, without rest, they rushed to Green's Cut, to meet Kilpatrick's raid, who was then threatening Waynesboro, where Wheeler met and defeated him.

Defence of Savannah.

Two hundred and fifty of Young's men were there mounted, and under Captain Eve were marched hastily to Pocotaligo, and from Pocotoligo to Tullifini, Coosawhatchie, Salkehatchie, Izard's Farm, Argyle Island. The crack of the rifles of Young's men—for the remainder of his division had been hurried forward (being unable to mount them) by rail, under the command of ‘that hard old fighter,’ the gallant Major Puckett, was heard in nearly all of ‘the bloody and obstinate fighting along the rice dams,’ during the seige of Savannah. A complimentary order from Lieutenant-General Hardee ‘but for the gallant conduct of General Young's command, I could not have held Savannah so long’—was read by Adjutant—General Church before us at Heyward's Farm, soon after the evacuation. He was without a peer as a cavalry officer from Georgia, and was one of Stuart's as well as Hampton's, most trusted lieutenants. That the choice should have fallen upon him, demonstrates what the War Department, General Lee, aye, President Davis, thought of him. Hampton, Butler, Rosser, Young—think of that immortal quartette! Of their commanding presence, as they rode at the head of your columns, of the imperishable glory they gained—and that you helped make. Is it not a glorious legacy to bequeath your children? Does any one think this fulsome praise? Then let him or them search the records of the War of the Rebellon, and see what P. M. B. Young is accredited with during that war. We know the half has never been told, or ever will be.

After the war.

It would take volumes to write all we know of him outside of what history records. His political standing during the gloomy days of reconstruction—as a Congressman, as United States minister at foreign courts, as a diplomat—is green in the minds of the present generation. A social favorite, he has been as much petted by the women as spoiled by the men, for there was a strong personal magnetism that was hard to resist about his chivalric presence and courtly bearing. To you, descendants of Confederate soldiers, do I cite his [151] eventful life as a glorious example for you to emulate. An unknown cadet, who, by meritorious deeds and gallantry on the battlefield, that his numerous wounds attested, was promoted to major-general of cavalry in less than four years. This is his record as a soldier. As a civilian, elected soon after the war and serving several terms as Congressman, the wisdom of this selection being confirmed by his appointment by the National Government as their fit representative in foreign lands during the only two Democratic administrations since the civil war. ‘Our Confederate Brigadiers’ die, but when their mortal remains have been long mouldering in the dust they will live forever in history and in tradition, and children's children learn with their earliest breath to lisp the names of the great chieftains of the South, and with their youngest emotions to admire and emulate their illustrious example. Amidst the wreath of immortelles that will garland the memory of him who was called the ‘Beau Sabreur of Georgia,’ the most noted cavalry officer of your State, and one the most celebrated in either army, North or South, we desire to contribute this leaflet as a memento of our estimation of him who was once our colonel and an honorary member of this Association.

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