Maj. Alanson William Edwards

Major Alanson William Edwards. Colonel Cadle, adjutant-general of the Seventeenth Corps, commanded by the brave, popular and genial General Frank Blair, in the following letter to "The Forum," has some words for an old comrade and explains how he comes to write:

"Society of the Army of the Tennessee, Recording Secretary's office, P. 0. box 35, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 31, 1898.—To 'The Forum': The Society of the Army of the Tennessee desires to keep in its records memoranda showing the services of their members. Some time ago I wrote to Major Edwards and asked him to send me a sketch that would enable us, when he died, to print his obituary. He sent me a very brief statement, but knowing as much, or more, of his record than he modestly stated to me, I have written the enclosed, and if you think it worthwhile it might be printed, because it shows a great deal of his experience in the Army of the Tennessee in the war of the Rebellion.

"He was certainly a gallant soldier in our army, and credit should be given to living men as well as dead. Therefore, I send this to you with the hope that it may be used, and that, as an obituary of our society, it may be long before it will be required. Major Edwards does not know of this communication. Yours very truly,

"Cornelius Cadle."

"Major Alanson William Edwards was born in Lorain County, Ohio, August 27, 1840. His father removed to Macoupin County, Illinois, in 1848. Major Edwards attended the county schools and was afterward, in 1856-37, a student at McKendree College, Illinois. He was a railroad express agent and telegraph operator at Gillespie, Illinois, when the war broke out.

"He enlisted at once for the three months' service, but the quota of Illinois was then filled, as was the first call for three years' volunteers. He enlisted and was mustered in as a private of Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois Infantry, at Camp Palmer, Carlinville, Illinois, August 4, 1862. He served in the Western army, beginning at Columbus, Kentucky. He was a clerk in the office of the adjutant-general, district of Jackson war department, General Grenville M. Dodge, of Corinth, Mississippi.

"In April, 1863, by authority from the war department, General Grenville M. Dodge, at Corinth, Mississippi, organized the First Alabama Union Cavalry from loyal refugees, driven from their homes in the mountains in north Alabama by Confederate conscripting officers. Major Edwards was appointed first lieutenant and adjutant, with George L. Spencer as colonel, and was afterward promoted to captain L troop of this regiment.

"He served with General Van Derveer as acting assistant adjutant-general, district of Rome and of Marietta, Georgia, and was near Kenesaw mountain with General Sherman when Sherman signalled Corse at Allatoona to 'hold the fort, at the same time that Captain Flint, of Company E, First Alabama Cavalry, was aide to General Corse, and wrote at Corse's dictation the answer about 'losing his cheek, but was able to whip all hell yet.’

"Major Edwards commanded Company M of his regiment on the 'March to the sea, and in the close approach to Savannah he rode with the First Alabama Cavalry over the torpedoes planted in the road by the enemy. Lieutenant F. W. Tupper, his successor and adjutant of the regiment, having his leg blown off, and many of the regiment were severely wounded.

"Colonel Cornelius Cadle, the adjutant-general of the Seventeenth Army Corps, being at that moment in advance with the First Alabama Cavalry, directed the provost marshal of the corps, Major John C. Marvin, to bring to the front all the prisoners of war, and they, upon their hands and knees, dug into the ground and took out the torpedoes—the unexploded ones—that several of these prisoners had assisted in 'planting' a few days before. It happened that the Confederate sergeant who had supervision of the placing of these torpedoes was one of the prisoners, and he readily found them and carefully aided in clearing our way to Savannah, the city that was a Christmas present from Sherman to our president, Lincoln.

"At Savannah Major Edwards was detached from his regiment by order of- General Sherman, and assigned to duty as acting assistant adjutant-general, Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and served with General Corse, the division commander, until after the grand review of the armies at Washington, May 24 and 25, 1865, and was mustered out July 11, 1865. He was breveted major March 13, 1805, for 'gallant and meritorious service in the field.

"Major Edwards was present at the meeting of the officers of the Army of the Tennessee, called to organize our society at Raleigh, North Carolina, April 25, 1865.’

"The first post of the Grand Army of the Republic was organized by Dr. B. F. Stevenson, at Decatur, Illinois, and several members were sent over the state to institute other posts. A dozen or so were mustered at the same time. Major Edwards, after his war service, was mustered in Post No. 6, at Bunker Hill, Illinois, which was one of the earliest organized posts of the Grand Army of the Republic.

"Returning to his home in 1865, he resuscitated the 'Union Gazette’, at Bunker Hill, Illinois, a paper he published before going to the war, and which was suspended during the war. In 1868 Major Edwards secured an interest in the 'Carlinville Free Democrat’, a Republican paper started by Senator John M. Palmer in 1856.

Major Edwards was warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet in 1871-1872. After the great Chicago fire he went into business in Chicago, and was a member of the board of trade in 1875-1878. He went to the Black Hills in 1876, located at Fargo in 1878, as editor of the 'Fargo Republican’. He established the 'Daily Argus' in 1879. Governor G. A. Pierce, of our society, appointed Major Edwards superintendent of the semi-decennial census of Dakota Territory in 1885. Major Edwards was elected mayor of Fargo in 1886-1887; was a member of the legislature 1895-1896. He lost 'The Argus' in 1890, started the 'Daily Forum' in 1891, purchased the 'Republican’, the first paper he started, and consolidated the two, and it is now issued by Edwards & Plumley.

"Major Edwards was married to Elizabeth Robertson at Carlinville, Illinois, in 1870. They have six sons and one daughter, all living in Fargo, North Dakota. The sons are Harry Goodell, twenty-six years; William Robertson, twenty-three years; Alanson Charles, nineteen years; John Palmer, seventeen Years; George Washington, thirteen years; Richford Roberts, nine years; and Marie R., twenty-four years.

"Cincinnati, Ohio, March 31, 1898."

Source: Compendium and History of North Dakota 1900 Page 183

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