LTC Vincent Meigs Wilcox
As a Lieutenant Colonel, Vincent Meigs Wilcox commanded a regiment at Antietam (the 132nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers) and led the unit in a bayonet charge against the enemy. In this single battle, the regiment suffered casualties of more than 50 percent. LTC Meigs was the product of two families with deep roots in Guilford and throughout New Haven County. He was born on October 17, 1828 in Madison, Connecticut, (which had been part of Guilford until 1826). He survived the war and lived until 1896. The image shown is a reduced resolution outtake of a photo in the GKS Wilcox Collection.
- Laura Dudley Page,
- Lewis Scranton Wilcox, and
- Allan Wilcox.
- Schama, Simon (2010) "The American Future: A History" discusses several generations of the Meigs family and their many contributions to American military history.
- The family tree of Vincent Meigs Wilcox can be seen here.
- Other photos of the Wilcox family are available through the Guilford Keeping Society.
- Information on the extended Wilcox family is here.
- A collection of photos taken by the Wilcox family is available at the Guilford Free Library.
Comments from the Community - Offered Without Confirmation
The following is the official report of LTC Vincent M Wilcox to Brigadier General Nathan Kimball (Commanding First Brigade, French's Division, Sumner's Corps) recounting the part played by the 132nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.
HDQRS. 132nd REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS,
Battlefield, Nuger Spring, Md., September 19, 1862.
Brigadier General KIMBALL,
Commanding First Brigade, French's Division, Sumner's Corps.
DEAR SIR: I beg leave to submit to you the following account of the part which our regiment took in the great contest of the 17th instant:
We were ordered by you to take up the line of march about 6 o'clock a. m., and were formed in line of battle at 7 o'clock. We were brought under fire a little before 8 o'clock, and although ours was a new regiment, not yet organized a month and never before in sight of the enemy, still they behaved like veterans and well-disciplined troops. We brought into action 750 men, and brought out 364 men, exclusive of officers. Quite early in the action Colonel Richard A. Oakford fell, mortally wounded, and died in a few minutes. In this death the country has lost a noble, able, and experienced officer. The command then devolved upon me, and I cannot here too highly express my thanks and admiration for the assistance rendered me by Major Charles Albright and Adjt. F. L. Hitchcock. They never left the field for a moment, but by their coolness and bravery assisted me greatly in inspiring the men with that courage which it was necessary for men to possess under so severe a fire as that to which they were subjected.
Where all do so well it would be invidious to show distinctions or particularize names, and hence, in justice to the line officers, I must say that all performed their duty nobly and well, exhibiting the greatest firmness and bravery. Lieutenant Cranmer, Company C, advanced, with musket in hand, at the head of this company to the front, and fell, mortally wounded, while setting a splendid example of coolness and courage to his men. Captain Abbott, Company G, fell, dangerously wounded, while fighting most gallantly at the very front of the line.
General, you directed me to hold the eminence in front of the rifle-pit at all hazards, and not to fall back until ordered by you, and I am happy to say that it was done, although at a fearful sacrifice. The men were supplied with 60 rounds of ammunition, and exhausted their supply, and took the cartridges from the dead and wounded, and kept up the fire against the enemy. He tried upon several occasions to outflank us, but the sure and deadly aim of our men drove him back to his rifle-pits in disorder. At last he exhibited a white flag, but in violation of that flag kept up an incessant fire of shell and musketry, and quite a number were killed and wounded thereby. When our men were nearly exhausted of strength and ammunition, you directed me to fix bayonets and charge upon the rifle-pits, but at this moment the Irish Brigade came up and joined our men in the charge. They drove the enemy from their stronghold and captured some 300 prisoners, including a number of officers, among them Lieutenant-Colonel [Reuben B.] Nisbet, of Macon, Ga., all of whom were sent to the rear. We stood up in front of the enemy for nearly four and a half hours, and when re-enforcements came (which must have been at about 12 o'clock m.), the tide of battle had turned, and I considered the field ours. Our colors were planted in advance of any on the field, and were finally waved over the enemy's rifle-pits, and brought back, riddled by his balls, in triumph. The men under my command are entitled to honorable mention, which I trust they will receive at your hands. Below I append a list of my killed and wounded.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
V. M. WILCOX,
Source: http://antietam.aotw.org/exhibit.php?exhibit_id=292 accessed January 20, 2018.
Victor Meigs Wilcox came from a remarkable clan. Simon Schama's book (cited above on this page) indicates that the Meigs family was among the first in New Haven Colony. The earliest American Meigs, Vincent, was buried at Hammonassett (in what was then Guilford), at a place still known as Meigs Point.
A few generations later in this family line came Return Jonathan Meigs, a colonel in the Continental Army who, among other notable achievements, led a famous amphibious raid from Guilford (Sachem's Head) to the Hamptons that resulted in the destruction of a dozen enemy vessels and large stores of hay, grain, and rum. This group captured 96 prisoners of war, but none of the men led by Return Meigs were lost.
Return Jonathan Meigs had a much younger brother, Josiah Meigs (born in Middletown). He left a professorship at Yale to became the second president of the University of Georgia after Guilford’s Abraham Baldwin stepped down from the position.
Josiah’s grandson, General Montgomery C. Meigs, was the Army Quartermaster during the Civil War. Although born in Georgia, he was known for his strong abolitionist views and his effectiveness in arming and supplying the Union troops. Early in the Civil War he became a close advisor to Abraham Lincoln. The death in battle of the General’s son, John Rodgers Meigs, made the war very personal for the father. When he was put in charge of finding a location for a Union War Cemetery, General Meigs chose to place Arlington National Cemetery on the family estate of Robert E. Lee.
Skipping a few generations, there is General Montgomery C. Meigs (born 1945 -- the great-great-great grandnephew of the Civil War Meigs), who commanded the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the late 1990’s.
-- WC, January 20, 2018