Felix Agnus (4 May 1839 – 31 October 1925) (born Antoine-Felix[2]) was a French-born sculptor, newspaper publisher and soldier who served in the Franco-Austrian War and the American Civil War. Agnus studied sculpture before enlisting to fight in the Franco-Austrian War. Upon the conclusion of the war, he travelled to the United States and again briefly worked as a sculptor. In 1861, upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, Agnus enlisted in the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, and served with merit, rising to brevet brigadier-general before being mustered out of service. Agnus was then inspector general of the Department of the South and supervised the dismantling of Confederate forts.

Felix Agnus
Agnus in 1914 publication
Born(1839-07-04)4 July 1839
Lyon, France
Died31 October 1925(1925-10-31) (aged 86)
Service/branchFrench Army
Union Army
Years of service1859 (France)
1861–1865 (US)
Rank Major
Brevet Brigadier General
Battles/warsFranco-Austrian War
American Civil War
AwardsOrdre du Nichan El-Anouar
Other workPublisher of the Baltimore American

After the war, Agnus settled in Baltimore and worked for the Baltimore American, eventually becoming publisher of the paper. Charles Fulton, the previous publisher, was his father-in-law, Agnus having married Fulton's daughter Annie on 13 December 1864. As the publisher, Agnus was an original member of the Associated Press, and a prominent citizen in Baltimore. He was offered political positions, including as a United States Senator and a United States Consul, both of which he declined. He served on several local and national commissions. Agnus died in 1925. A funerary statue formerly placed on his grave, known as Black Aggie, is the subject of urban legends.

Early years edit

Felix Agnus was born in Lyon, France, on 4 July 1839, to Felix-Etienne Agnus and Anne née Bernerra Agnus.[2] He was educated at College Jolie Clair, near Paris, and, in 1852, set out on a voyage around the world for four years. Upon returning, Agnus studied sculpting. He abandoned school to fight in the Franco-Austrian War. He served in the 3rd Regiment, and fought in the Battle of Montebello. When the war ended in 1859, he emigrated from France first to Newport, Rhode Island, and later New York City, where he worked for Tiffany and Company.[3]

Civil War service edit


On 25 April 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, Agnus enlisted in Duryée's Zouaves.[4] At the Battle of Big Bethel, he saved the life of Captain Judson Kilpatrick, and was soon promoted to sergeant, 2nd lieutenant, and 1st lieutenant.[3] In the Peninsula Campaign, Agnus led the charge at Ashland Bridge, and was severely wounded in the shoulder at the Battle of Gaines's Mill.[1][5] Duryée's Zouaves were next stationed in Baltimore, Maryland, on Federal Hill, where the wounded Agnus was billeted on Charles C. Fulton, publisher of the Baltimore American. It is surmised that it was during this time that he met his future wife, Fulton's daughter Annie.[3] He helped raise four companies of the 165th New York Infantry Regiment, in which he was given the captaincy of the color company.[1][6]

In late 1862 his regiment was sent to Louisiana, and garrisoned at New Orleans and Baton Rouge.[7] Captain Agnus was wounded on 27 May 1863, during the siege of Port Hudson, he was promoted to major on 2 September, and for a time had command of his regiment.[7] He served in Texas, and, after attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel, was ordered eastwards to join the 19th Corps. He served under General Philip Sheridan, taking part in the battles of Opequon, Fisher's Hill, Winchester, and Cedar Creek. His last service was in the Department of the South, as inspector general of the Department, where he was commissioned to dismantle old Confederate forts in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and turn all the property over to the U.S. government. He received the brevet of brigadier-general of volunteers on 13 March 1865, making him the youngest brigadier-general in the army at the time. Agnus was mustered out of service on 22 August 1865.[1][6]

Later life and death edit

On resuming civil life he was appointed to assistant assessor in the Internal Revenue Service office in Baltimore.[8] He worked for, and was eventually given charge of the business department of the Baltimore American on 4 July 1869, and later became its publisher. Agnus helped to greatly expand the newspaper.[3][1][9] In 1897 the politician George L. Wellington sued Agnus for libel.[10] In 1904, a fire burnt down the headquarters of the American. Agnus found printing facilities in Washington, D.C., and soon began construction on a new, 16 story building. Agnus also founded the Baltimore Star. He sold both newspapers on 1 December 1924, to Frank Munsey.[1][3][9][11]

He was twice asked to be the Republican nominee for a seat in the United States Senate, but declined. Agnus was appointed US Consul to Derry, Ireland, and confirmed by the Senate, but declined to accept the position.[citation needed] He served as the chairman of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Commission, a member of the Board of Visitors of West Point and of the commission that built the Baltimore Courthouse.[9] He also was one of the original members of the Associated Press, a delegate to multiple Republican national conventions and a charter member of the Army and Navy Club. Agnus received the Ordre du Nichan El-Anouar.[1] Agnus died on 31 October 1925.[3] A march was written in 1882 by W. Paris Chambers entitled the "General Felix Agnus March".[12]

Black Aggie is the folkloric name given to a statue formerly placed on the grave of Agnus in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland. The statue is of a somber seated figure in a cowl or shroud, and was the subject of many urban legends.[13]

Dates of rank edit

Insignia Rank Component Date Ref(s)
Sergeant US Volunteers 25 April 1861 [4]
First sergeant US Volunteers 20 July 1861 [4]
Second lieutenant US Volunteers 1 September 1861 [4]
First lieutenant US Volunteers 8 July 1862 [4]
Captain US Volunteers 28 November 1862 [4]
Major US Volunteers 2 September 1863 [4]
Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel US Volunteers 13 March 1865 [4]
Brevet Colonel US Volunteers 13 March 1865 [4]
Brevet Brigadier General US Volunteers 13 March 1865 [4]

See also edit

Sources edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Felix Agnus". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Archives municipales de Lyon". Registre des naissances 01/01/1839-02/07/1839, pp.301-302. Ville de Lyon. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "University of Maryland University Libraries Digital Collections". Felix Agnus papers, collection number 90-265. University of Maryland. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Maj. Felix Agnus, 5th NY Infantry Regiment during the Civil War – NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center". dmna.ny.gov. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  5. ^ Brown, John Howard (1900). Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States. James H. Lamb Company.
  6. ^ a b Wilson, James Grant, ed. (1900). "Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography". Volume 7. D Appleton and Company. p. 3. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Johnson 1906, p. 65
  8. ^ Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising Agents and Allied Interests. Fourth Estate Publishing Company. 1904.
  9. ^ a b c Stealey, Orlando Oscar (1910). 130 Pen Pictures of Live Men. Publishers printing Company, New York.
  10. ^ "WELLINGTON CHARGES LIBEL.; Gen. Felix Agnus Prosecuted by the Maryland Senator". The New York Times. 1 December 1897. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ Associated Press Leased Wire (20 November 1920). "MUNSEY BUYS STAR, AMERICAN IN BALTIMORE". The Morning Press. No. 68. Santa Barbara, CA. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  12. ^ "039.041 – General Felix Agnus March. | Levy Music Collection". levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  13. ^ Mills, Cynthia J. (Summer 2000). "Casting Shadows: The Adams Memorial and Its Doubles". American Art. Smithsonian American Art Museum. 14 (2): 2–25. doi:10.1086/424354. S2CID 192155944.

External links edit