Edwin Francis Jemison

Edwin Francis Jemison (December 1, 1844 – July 1, 1862) was a Confederate soldier who served in Company C, 2nd Louisiana Infantry, from May 1861 until he was killed at the Battle of Malvern Hill.[1]

Edwin Francis Jemison
Private Edwin Francis Jemison.jpg
Jemison in uniform, ca. 1862
Born(1844-12-01)December 1, 1844
Milledgeville, Georgia, U.S.
DiedJuly 1, 1862(1862-07-01) (aged 17)
Henrico County, Virginia
Allegiance Confederate States
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service1861–1862
UnitCompany C, 2d Louisiana Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Jemison's photograph has become one of the most famous and iconic portraits of the young soldiers of both the Confederate and Union armies.[2] It was featured particularly on the cover of the American Russian-language magazine Amerika in 1991.[3]

American Civil WarEdit

Jemison enlisted on May 11, 1861, and was among the war's early volunteers.[4] He participated in the Peninsula Campaign under Maj. Gen. Magruder.[5]


Jemison was killed on July 1, 1862, at the Battle of Malvern Hill. The circumstances of his death will likely never be fully known, though a popular story emerged of a direct hit from a cannonball which decapitated him.[6][7] The cause of his death has since been called into question. The death by cannon fire story was corroborated by the 1887 obituary of his younger brother, Sam, but incorrectly identifies the battle as First Manassas.[8] Biographer Alexandra Filipowski debunks the tale altogether. A veteran named Captain Moseley told the gruesome story of the decapitation to crowds all over the south, often for money. At one such event, Jemison's brother was in attendance and drew his own conclusion, stating “that was my brother.” It has since been shown, however, that Moseley did not fight at Malvern Hill and could not have witnessed Private Jemison's demise. Filipowski cites Jemison's obituary as the only actual known account of his death: “He sustain[ed] himself in the front rank of the soldier and gentlemen until the moment of his death. Bounding forward at the order ‘Charge!’ he was stricken down in the front rank, and without a struggle yielded up his young life.”[9]  Following the Battle of Malvern Hill, both sides buried their dead on the battlefield. After the American Civil War, organizations like the United Daughters of the Confederacy returned to the old battlefields and disinterred the bodies of fallen Confederate soldiers and gave them proper burials in places like the Confederate Section of Hollywood Cemetery in nearby Richmond, Virginia. It is thought that Jemison's parents erected the monument to him at Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia, where he may be buried.[10][4] Most believe that he was buried on or near the Malvern Hill battlefield in Henrico County, Virginia, in an unmarked grave.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Obituary: Edwin Francis Jemison". Southern Recorder. August 5, 1862. p. 3.
  2. ^ "Identity of Civil War soldier corrected". SouthCoastToday. Associated Press. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Amerika, September 1991, issue 418
  4. ^ a b Cox, Dale. "Best Known Confederate Soldier". ExploreSouthernHistory. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  5. ^ Field, Ron; Hook, Richard (2006). The Confederate Army 1861-65 (3): Louisiana & Texas. Osprey Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 1846030315.
  6. ^ Jones, Terry L. (2006). The Louisiana Journey. Gibbs Smith. p. 193. ISBN 1423601300.
  7. ^ Miller, William J. (May 2004). "The Two Pictures of Private Jemison". America's Civil War: 32.
  8. ^ "End of a Brilliant Lawyer". The Ouachita Telegraph. January 1, 1887. Retrieved July 24, 2015. the second was killed, with his messmate, by a cannon shot at the first battle of Manassas
  9. ^ Alex; Filipowski, ra; Harrington, Hugh T. (November 20, 2018). "The Mystery of Private Edwin Jemison". HistoryNet. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Filipowski, Alexandra; Harrington (May 2007). "Hugh T.". America's Civil War: 28.
  11. ^ Filipowski, Alexandra; Harrington, Hugh T. (May 2004). "America's Civil War: Where Does Private Jemison Rest". America's Civil War. Retrieved July 24, 2015.

External linksEdit