Madison County Historical Society

Bravery Comes in Different Forms

Sister Successfully Pleads to Have Brother Released into Her Care

 
 

George Washington Marquis was in the 19th Indiana Infantry Regiment, which was a part of the "Iron Brigade."  This unit fought at South Mountain, Antietam, and Gettysburg, among others, and was always in the forefront of battle.

Early in his service, George got into the habit of writing to his family about what he and his fellow infantrymen were going through.  (These letters are in the possession of a descendant.)

During a "stand-up" gun fight right before the Second Battle of Bull Run, a rifle ball went through George's knee.  Marquis crawled to an old log hut on the fringe of the battlefield.  He laid there during the ongoing engagement for three days.

He was found by a Southern ambulance unit and taken to a medical station where, "men (were) dying around me and crying for something to eat.  I ... stuck it out for 6 days (subsisting on a) few hard crackers."

At the truce, the wounded were exchanged, and George then "suffered great pain riding 50 miles in a wagon" to the Hospital of Incurables in Washington, D. C.

George Washington Marquis(pictured later in life)  and his sister, Elizabeth Marquis.

 
 

Elizabeth Goes to Washington

On September 20, 1862, George sent a letter to his family detailing his story and circumstances.  His older sister, Elizabeth, decided to travel to the nation's capital so she could help with the care of her brother.  Relatives attending to their wounded family members at these larger medical sites were not uncommon.

Doctors initially thought the knee would heal, but complications set in, and the medics began considering the amputation of George's leg.  At this point, Elizabeth formulated her own plan of attack.  This Hoosier woman marched into the White House -- as the public was allowed to do back then --and confronted face to face President Abraham Lincoln, commander-in-chief of military personnel.  After explaining the situation, she asked that her brother's leg not be amputated and that he be released into her care.

In the recorded story, Lincoln asked her, "What can you do for your brother that we are not doing for him here?"  With her own iron resolve, Elizabeth answered, "We can give him the love and care of his family."  Lincoln stood silent for a little while and must have believed that such determination and devotion should not go unanswered.  He responded, "I'll have your brother released and you may take him home."

It took an entire year, but eventually George was able to walk again with only a slight limp.  George became a farmer here in the county and married, having several children.  George is at rest at the Vinson Memorial Park Cemetery in Summitville.

By Melody Hull, Trustee of the Madison County Historical Society

 

Madison County Historical Society|15 West 11th Street, P. O. Box 696, Anderson, Indiana 46015-0696|(765)683-0052|madisonchs@sbcglobal.net