Capt. Leroy S. Elbert
Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 13:32:29
From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
CAPT. LEROY S. ELBERT
It is not in the loss of treasure, the expenditure of money, the creation of an immense debt, the interruption to commerce, or the destruction of property that the Christian patriot or the humanitarian philosopher views the most baleful and lamentable effects of war. To him it exists in the frightful loss of life; in youth stricken down at the commencement of existence; in strong men disabled in a vigorous maturity. He sees it in the new-made graves, in the mourning hearts, in the desolate homes that are found all over the land.
Every good citizen is an element of strength to society and the State. In the wisdom, virtue, courage, patriotism and intelligence of its citizens, more that money, the wealth of a State consists; and in the death of an individual in whom these attributes and these virtues are combined, it suffers its greatest loss.
Capt. Leroy S. Elbert, who died of typhoid fever on the steamboat “City of Alton,” below St Louis, September 13, 1863, at the early age of twenty-five, was the son of Dr. Elbert, of Van Buren County, Iowa. The Captain was born in Logan County Ohio, but his parents removing to this State while he was very young, he became thus one of Iowa’s own sons, a fine representative of the noble class of young men whose valor, intelligence and patriotism have shed such a rich luster upon the name of our State. He entered the military academy at West Point, in June of 1857, at the age of eighteen, and graduated with honor, July 1, 1861, esteemed by his teachers and classmates for his scholarly attainments and the admirable traits of his character. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the regular service, and assigned to duty in what has become known as the army of the Potomac, then under Gen. McDowell. Within a few days after joining the army, the first battle of Bull Run was fought. For his gallant bearing and the soldierly qualities displayed by him during that fight, he was promoted to a First Lieutenancy and placed upon Gen. Pleasanton’s staff. During the Peninsular campaign of McClellan he served with fidelity, bravery and distinction as aid to Gen. Emery. He was subsequently transferred to the staff of Gen. Stoneman when the latter was made Chief of Cavalry in the army of the Potomac, with whom he continued until the close of the famous raid made by Stoneman during the great struggle of Hooker at Fredericksburg, during all of which time Capt. Elbert displayed the same judgment, discretion and courage which he had exhibited from the commencement of his military career, and which had secured for him the confidence and regard of his superior officers and of the War Department at Washington. Upon the removal of Gen. Stoneman, Elbert was promoted to a Captaincy and ordered to the command of Company G, Third Regiment U.S. Cavalry, stationed at Memphis, Tennessee. It was while in camp there, that on September 1, he was taken ill. Upon the 9th he started for the home of his parents in Iowa, and upon the morning of the 13th all that was mortal of the Captain became clay, for his spirit returned to the God who gave it.
We shall attempt no lengthy analysis of Captain Elbert’s character, nor shall we become his eulogist. To do it fittingly and well would require an abler pen than ours. But he needs it not at the hands of any. We will, for the benefit of the living, not of the dead, mention some of his most noticeable characteristics. And first, he was a patriot, devoted to his Government and country with more than filial affection. He watched with concern and indignation the smouldering fires of rebellion bursting forth in the South, and when treason culminated in the attack upon Sumter, he raised his voice for war, declaring it to be the plain duty of the Government to use every man at the nation’s command to redress the wrong done our flag, vindicate the supremacy of the Government, sustain the majesty of the law, punish treason, and save the Union from disruption and the country from ruin. Anxious to enter the field and lend his aid to the Government, he was with difficulty persuaded to remain at West Point for the few weeks necessary to finish his collegiate course, and as soon as he had graduated, notwithstanding the law gave him a furlough for sixty days, and he had not seen his family for three years, he disclaimed this right, and hurried to Washington to place himself and his services at the disposal of the Government, not that he loved his family less, only his country more. And under all the circumstances, whether in victory or defeat, he never waned in his support of our rulers; or lost faith in the justice and ultimate triumph of our cause. But again, he was a moral man. He governed his life by the strictest rules of moral rectitude, and always possessing and governed by an active principle of benevolence, careful of the character and welfare of others whenever, in the circle of his acquaintance he saw one stepping aside from the path of right or duty, and entering upon a course that might lead to disgrace or infamy, he was always first to warn him of his danger and extend the helping hand to bring him back to a life of virtue. Better than all, he was a Christian’; he was of that highest style of man—a Christian soldier. A firm and sincere believer in the truths of Revelation, he adopted them as his rule of action; as the standard by which he measured his life; and whether upon the battlefield or in camp he entertained his Christian integrity, and expressed his firm assurance that “if this earthly house and his tabernacle were dissolved he had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Seldom, if ever before, has it been our fortune to know a young man who was possessed of so many admirable traits of character and so few blemishes; one so universally beloved in his life and regretted in his death by all that knew him, as was Capt. Elbert.
An accomplished scholar, a genial companion, an earnest patriot, an affectionate, dutiful son, a kind and tender brother, an upright citizen, a brave soldier, an efficient talented officer, and a sincere Christian, his life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him, that nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a man.
Such as he was, we have lost him. His name is another to be added to the long list of the noble dead of our late war. He furnished another tie to bind us to the country and the cause for which he offered up his life. God forbid that his life and example should be in vain; that we should falter in a cause consecrated by his death.
In a quiet and secluded spot, near the home of his parents, in Van Buren, amid the sorrowful attention of a large and tearful crowd, consigned we to dust the body of our noble young Captain, mourning the mortal, but confident that the immortal was at rest in the bosom of his Father and his God.
The foregoing sketch was written by Hon. Sam M. Clark, of Keokuk, in October 1863.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.
Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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