Thursday, January 24, 2013


[Editor's note: Maj. Chatham Roberdeau Wheat was born April 9, 1826 in Alexandria, Virginia to Rev. John Thomas Wheat and Serina Blair Patten. He commanded the 1st Special Battalion (Wheat's) Louisiana Volunteers in the First Battle of Manassas, Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 and the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, where he was killed at  the Battle of Gaines' Mill on June 27, 1862. Company B (Tiger Rifles) of Wheat's Battalion wore colorful  Zouave uniforms and drew attention of reporters before and after First Manassas where they launched a famous bowie knife charge. Soon the whole battalion was being called Louisiana Tigers and then all Louisiana troops serving in the Army of Northern Virginia.]
The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Jan. 26, 1863
Maj. Chatham Roberdeau Wheat
Obsequies of Major C. R. Wheat.
       The funeral of this well known and gallant officer, who was killed at the battle of Mechanicsville [Gaines' Mill], before Richmond, in July [June 27, 1862] last while leading his command into action, took place in this city on Saturday last, from the Monumental Church, on Broad street.
          A large concourse of military and citizens, plentifully interspersed with ladies, assembled at the church at an early hour to hear the funeral sermon, which was delivered by the Rev. J. C. McCabe, after which the coffin, containing the remains of the distinguished dead, was removed from the church to a caisson, drawn by four span of horses, which had been appropriately selected to convey it to Hollywood Cemetery. The line of procession was then formed, as follows: City Battalion, Major Elliott commanding; Public Guard, Lieut. Gay commanding detachment of the Tiger Rifles; two bands or music; caisson, containing the coffin; after which followed Louisiana officers now in the city, Gen. Elzey and Staff, Gen. Henningsen, and officers of the army, citizens, &c., and the cortege closed with carriages containing friends and acquaintances of the deceased.
          Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat was a native of Alexandria, Va., and was distinguished not only for his fine personal appearance, but for those qualities which constitute a gallant officer and true gentleman. Of a restless, roving and chivalrous disposition, the Mexican war first opened a path for his peculiar genius, since when his sword has not in its scabbard, but wherever struggling liberty needed a champion, whether it was upon the battlefields of Mexico, Nicaragua, Italy, or his own native South, he was among the first to respond to the call. Major Wheat wished to die, amidst the flashing of the guns, and with the flag of his country waving victoriously above him.

Two Louisiana Tigers from a
contemporary Harper's Weekly
sketch. Notice the bowie knife
worn by the Tiger at left.

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