BREVET MAJOR GENERAL’S COMMISSION AND G.A.R. BADGE OF SAMUEL SPRIGG CARROLL: HIS TROOPS HELPED SAVE CEMETERY HILL ON JULY 2 AND TO REPULSE PICKETT ON JULY 3 AT GETTYSBURG

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Item Code: 2020-894

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Carroll was a fighting general who acquired several nicknames from his red hair along with three wounds and a number of promotions and brevets for his service on the battlefield. He received several brevets for actions in individual battles: major for Chancellorsville; lieutenant colonel for Gettysburg; colonel for the Wilderness; brigadier general for Spottsylvania; and also two brevets for overall wartime performance: major general in the regular army and major general in the volunteers as of 13 March 1865. This is his latter commission, for “gallant and meritorious services during war,” as listed in Heitman’s Historical Register and spelled out on this document.

Born in Maryland in 1832, Carroll graduated West Point in 1856 and served briefly in the 9th US Infantry before joining the 10th as a 2nd lieutenant. When the war broke out he was promoted to 1st lieutenant and to captain before receiving a commission as colonel in the volunteer service to command the 8th Ohio in December 1861. In the Valley Campaign of 1862, he commanded a brigade in Shields’ division and was commended for actions at Cedar Mountain. Wounded at the Rapidan River, he recovered in time for Fredericksburg in the 3rd Corps. He took command of the First Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps in time for Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg led three of his regiments to help push Hays’ Louisiana brigade and Avery’s North Carolinians off Cemetery Hill on July 2 in fighting that lasted until 10:00 P.M. and devolved into hand-to-hand combat in the darkness and smoke amid the Union gun positions. His other regiment, the 8th Ohio, remained on the skirmish lines in front of Cemetery Ridge and on July 3 played a key part in repulsing Pickett by changing front to fire into and charge the Confederate flank. Carroll’s brigade lost 211 men in the battle, took four enemy colors and 252 prisoners, having played an important role at two key positions on the battlefield.

Carroll continued to lead the brigade through the Mine Run Campaign and the Overland Campaign of 1864, where he was twice wounded: at Wilderness and at Spottsylvania, costing him his left arm. He was promoted brigadier general to date 12 May 1864, and later led a division in the Army of the Shenandoah. He mustered out of the volunteer service in 1866, but remained in the regular army as lieutenant colonel of the 21st US until he retired 9 June 1869. He retired to family property in Montgomery County, MD, at what is now Takoma Park, where he died in 1892.

This has been mounted in an impressive gilt frame and retains good color in the blue seal and docketing in red ink by the Adjutant General’s Office at upper left. The brown ink filled-in details of the award are a tad lighter, but fully legible (on many commissions they have become invisible,) as are the signature of Asst. Adj. Gen. Townsend, and stamped signatures of Secretary of War Stanton and President Andrew Johnson. The commission was signed 7 April 1866 and confers the rank upon Carroll as of 13 March 1865. There are some folds visible, but the only loss is a very narrow line on the blue paper seal. A separate, printed caption reading, “Samuel Sprigg Carrol, Maj. Gen. Commission / cited numerous times for bravery & hero of Gettysburg / Dated 1866” has been framed with the commission at bottom center. The frame measures 19 ½ by 23 ½ inches, with the visible portion of the commission 15 ¼ by 19 ½ inches. This displays beautifully and is ready to hang. We include with it Carroll’s Type-IV (second die-strike) G.A.R. membership badge, which is numbered V13975. The badge lacks the ribbon, but predates 1886, and has nice tones to the bronze eagle top bar and G.A.R. star. It would look great displayed in a small frame to the side of the commission.  [sr]

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