1st Sgt. Francis McCleskey - Co. B

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1st Sergeant Francis C. McCleskey was born about 1840 to Angelina and George W. McCleskey. Francis had seven siblings still living at home with his father and mother in 1860. His father, Captain George W. McClesky helped organize and recruit the men that formed the “Milton Guards,” Company B, of the 38th Ga. Regt.

Francis’s father, Capt George W. McCleskey was mortally wounded during the fierce battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia, on June 27th, 1862. His father lived for three weeks after the battle and died on July 17, 1862. 1st Sergeant Francis McCleskey was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., on July 1st, 1863, when Gordon's brigade charged, smashed, and caved in the right flank of the Federal army arrayed upon Barlow's Knoll. Sergeant McCleskey was shot through the head with a rifle ball and killed instantly during this charge. What a horrible blow it must have been to his 42 year old mother, Angelina McCleskey, to lose both her dear husband, and a beloved son in less than one year.

Below is a letter of condolence, sent less than three weeks after the battle, from the junior officers and noncommissioned officers of the regiment, to Francis’s mother, Angelina:

Camp of 38th Ga. Regt
Near Darksville, Va.
July 18th, 1863

Mrs. Angeline McCleskey,

Dear Madame, As you are doubtless aware before this time it has again become our sad and painful duty to record the Death of another member of your family who was a brother in arms with us. At about 4 o’clock on the evening of the 1st of July inst. (after several days hard marching) we were again called on to participate in another terrible and bloody conflict at Gettysburg, Pa. in this fierce struggle. Frances was called on to lay his life’s blood on his Country’s altar which he did nobly and bravely. he was honorably discharging his duty when the fatal ball pierced his brain. he was shot in the head and instantly killed by a minnie ball while bravely driving the enemy before him.

While we are called on to mourn his absence and death we mourn not as those who have no hope. we are cheered by the hope that his noble and magnanimous spirit is with that of his _______Father bask in sunshine and happiness around the eternal throne of God in Heaven where no wars, no strife, and where evenings never come, and where the poor, tired care worn, scared, and sunburned Soldier may forever rest from his labors and where the sound of the war drum, the sharp clash of Rifles, and sullen roar of Artillery is heard no more throughout great Eternity.

Frances was always very kind and at all times obliging to all his companions and in fact to all who came in his way. No one has ever fell that has cast such deep and lasting gloom and sorrow on all the members of this company since the Death of his Father (webmaster's note: Francis’s father was Capt George W. McCleskey, company commander of Company B, mortally wounded at Gaines Mill) as the death of Frances has caused. he was beloved and caressed by all who knew him. The Boys have often said that they knew but little difference between their love for him and their own Brothers. he was ever in a good humor with everything and everybody. he possessed quite an greeable and accommodating disposition. was always attentive to duty never complaining but cheerfully performing whatsoever fell to his lot and his duties were very heavy yet he was fully competent for the task. he hadn’t an Enemy in Camp as far as we knew. he was a friend to all high minded honorable Men. And all such were friends to him. none speak of Frances but to praise and do him honor.

but alas he is gone from us to return no more. yet we are consoled by the thought that though he can not come to us again we can (by the help of the great and All wise Disposer of Events) go to him. let this thought console and comfort you in your afflictions. We know that your loss has been very heavy and that your afflictions have been very severe, but he that has taken from you a Dear Husband and two dutiful sons has promised that our trials shall not be above that which we are able to bear We feel and acknowledge that our capacities are too limited to give to Frances that full and rich need of praise which is due him.

We humbly ask of you that we may be allowed to share your grief. but at the same time allow us to offer words of consolation and comfort. We feel and know that it is very hard to give up Dear Friends and loved ones, but we know that it is written, that it is appointed unto all men once to die. And we try to exclaim from the depths of our souls "Thy will O Lord, not ours be done in us in all things and at all times". Will you all pray for us that are left that we may be so imbued with a spirit of Grace that under all circumstances we may be fully prepared to meet death at any time.

It now becomes our duty to say something concerning Frances effects. he had on his person when he died $18.25 cents and fifty cents in stamps but they were wet and spoiled. he also had one small note of $10.00 on one of the Boys here and his Blank Book & Pocket knife which we will send home by the first reliable person passing that way. Some of the Boys were oweing him small amounts and he oweing some small amounts to some of them. If you see proper you can write to some one here to settle those small amounts for you and it will be done. if not we will send all to you and you can make such disposition of them as you choose. There is due him by the Government 2 months wages which at $20 pr. Month will make $40.00. In order that you may get it you will be compeled to authorise someone by power of Attorney to collect it for you at the Second Auditors Office in Richmond. We forgot to state in the proper place that we buried Frances as well as the circumstances would permit us. he was buried on the field near by where he was Killed. Hoping this may prove satisfactory and prove a source of comfort rather than anguish.

We remain your Most Obedient Servants

Lieut. K. R. Cross
Lieut. S. A. Hagood"
Lieut. A. C. Bell
Sergt. T. B. Newton

To: Mrs. Angeline McCleskey
Freemansville, Georgia

Letter on file at Georgia State Archives.

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