Remembering the Fallen of Resaca

Philip D. Stephenson

Among the men to remain on Resaca Battlefield to this day is Cpl. Samuel F. Russell of the famed 5th Company Washington Artillery of New Orleans. Russell was born in 1833 in Tyler County, Virginia and working on the Mississippi on a steamboat when he joined the 5th Company. Another member of the unit, 18-year-old Philip D. Stephenson, recalled his comrade’s death:

One of our corporals (Russell), of Piece One, I think, was killed instantly at Resaca, shot through the center of the forehead by a sharp shooter. An interesting man he was, gruff and with a bad habit of profanity, but faithful, generous, well liked, and recklessly brave. I remember looking at him just before he was shot. He was at one end of the battery, I (with piece 4) at the other. We were quite close together, however, behind an embrasured earth work, but on a bare knob of a hill, a little below the summit, on the slope towards the enemy in a very exposed position. The sharp shooters were close up and had our embrasures so completely in their control that we had been ordered to cease fire for a while. Russell was sitting down beside his gun sulking. The sun was pelting down upon our unprotected heads, making inaction hard to bear. Suddenly with an oath he sprang behind his gun to sight it ‘just to take one shot!’ Like a flash he was gone, the bullet coming through the embrasure from the keen sighted vigilant foe. Poor fellow. His body with covered face lay in our midst until night, with all others killed or wounded there…. Just at the outset of the campaign, when we had got ‘marching orders,’ Russell came into a tent where I was, and began with just and profanity to wonder who would be knocked over first. He himself was among the very first.

Russell’s body was buried in the Resaca Confederate Cemetery and was fortunate to be one of the few to find his way into a marked grave.

Russell’s grave

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