Col. Greathouse was courageous warrior

As you may know, the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society publishes a quarterly magazine under the title of ‘Fayette Facts.’ This 60-page book is chock-full of research help on Fayette County families through church and courthouse records and family histories.

What you might not know is that the society exchanges publications with nearly 40 other genealogical societies around Illinois and beyond. One of these is the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois, which publishes ‘The Saga of Southern Illinois,’ covering 28 counties in the southernmost part of Illinois.

While looking through the April 2005 edition, I came across an article that was made up of abstracts from The Hardin County Independent newspaper in 1941.

A discussion of Col. Lucien Greathouse began in the Sept. 4 issue, where the editor told his readers he had been contacted by James E. McClure, an attorney in Carlinville, seeking proof of the birthplace of Col. Greathouse.

McClure had published a column in The Carlinville Democrat, saying Lucien was born in Carlinville. Someone wrote to him disagreeing, saying that Greathouse was born in Elizabethtown. The debate began. McClure also wanted to know who Luciens parents were.

Through the next several weeks, various people contacted the newspaper, including Capt. R. F. Taylor. Capt. Taylor, age 83, knew some of the men in Greathouses company, and knew that the colonel had taught school in his home county of Hardin, where he lived with his married brother, John, and his family in a log house at Elizabethtown.

Taylor said that he remembered his folks describing how the horse that Greathouse rode was different from other horses it held its head to one side and stepped.

Col. Greathouse raised a company, Co. C, in Hardin County for the 48th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. Among his men were Joe Angleton, William Armstrong, John Cheek, Ira Driver, Isle Dossett, William Downey, Abner Dutton, Frank Ferrell, Arch Ginger, William Hobbs, Henry Hogan, James Holbrook, Riley Oxford, John L. Page, John Palmer, Richard Palmer, Lacey Perry, Lewis Reed, Robert Randolph, Andrew Shell, James Simms, Madison Smock, William Sneed, Jacob Stewart, Goddlip Stuby, Arthur Sutton, Carroll Tolbert, Anderson Vinyard, Lewis Vinyard, Thomas J. Vinyard and William Winters.

Taylor also pointed out that there are many men in Hardin County named Lucien, named by their fathers for their colonel.

For the record, Lucien Philip Greathouse was born in Carlinville on June 7, 1842, the son of John Stull and Lucy Mills Clarke Greathouse. His mother died the next year. John Stull was an attorney, and represented cases before the Supreme Court of Illinois at Vandalia when it was the capital. His grave is near that of his son in the Old State Burial Ground.

John and Lucy were parents of Samuel Tevis, born in 1829 in Shelbyville, Ky.; Elizabeth (Mrs. William S. Smith); Mary Ellen (Mrs. S.A. Blanchard); John Clark and Lucien Philip Greathouse.

Lucien did teach school after graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University at Bloomington in 1858, and it could have been in Hardin County. He did have a brother, John Clark Greathouse, who may have lived in Elizabethtown.

By June 1860, Lucien was living in Vandalia with his brother, Samuel Tevis Greathouse, and had begun the study of law under his brothers tutelage.

We know a lot about our local Civil War hero, Col. Lucien Greathouse, here in Vandalia, perhaps more than most. His monument in the Old State Burial Ground stands as a mute tribute to the fallen soldier who, at age 22, had just made brevet general before he was killed on July 22, 1864, near Atlanta.

Col. Greathouses bravery and valor is honored in the inscriptions from both Gen. Tecumseh Sherman and Gen. John A. Logan. Sherman said, ‘His example was worth 1,000 men.’ Logan termed him ‘the bravest man in the army of the Tennessee.’

Capt. R. F. Taylor said that he had heard John L. Page, who served under Greathouse, describe the scene of his death. Taylors version of Pages story goes like this: It was over near Atlanta. They were in a hard place, and had been ordered to retreat. But Col. Greathouse raised his hand and said, ‘We can hold that place. How many will go back with me?’ They all said they would go, and they got into the ditches. Except the colonel. He was standing near an oak tree with his left hand on the tree after the order for advance had been given, when he was shot in the abdomen.

William Winters remembered that earlier in the day, Greathouse grasped the standard of the flag, rushed ahead of the others, urging them on. Later in the day, as he was standing by a tree, Uncle Bill saw Greathouse shot.

‘Dah Winters, my brother and Arch Ginger ran to our colonel and picked him up and carried him away so that the rebels could not steal his uniform and his saber,’ he said.

The article in the Saga shows us once again that newspapers can be one of the greatest sources for forgotten history.

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