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05 August 2016

He Never Disgraced the Jacket of Grey: Final Funeral for Gen. Edward D. Tracy

Edward_Dorr_TracyIt's not difficult to find record of Brigadier-General Edward Dorr Tracy, Jr.'s service for the Confederate cause.  So I was a bit reluctant to take the time to make a post about him for the blog.  Conversely, I thought, if my goal is to eventually tell the story of every resident of this silent city, Edward Tracy must be included.  And maybe I'll share something here not everyone knows, or at least is not oft found on the great, wide Internet.  You tell me.

Edward Dorr Tracy, Jr. was born 5 November 1833 in Macon, Georgia to Judge Edward Dorr Tracy of Connecticut and Caroline Campbell.  The son graduated from the University of Georgia in 1851, and in the latter part of that decade moved to Huntsville, Alabama to practice law.  He joined the Confederate Army in 1861 and rose in rank all the way to Brigadier-General.  Edward D. Tracy, Jr. fell at Port Gibson, Mississippi May 1863.  He "fell near the front line, pierced through the breast, and instantly died without uttering a word." [Quote from bio at American Civil War General Officers.]

Richard W. Iobst writes in Civil War Macon (1999, Mercer University Press) about the attempts to get Tracy's body back home:

"William Angelo Steele wrote his sister Ellen, Tracy's widow, that he tried to bring her husband's body through the lines in early June 1863.  However, the fighting was so intense in that part of Mississippi, that Tracy was taken to the home of a local jurist, Judge Baldwin, dressed, and given a proper burial in Port Gibson in the Baldwin Lot…

In late July, 1863, Tracy's sword was sent to his wife by J. Woodson Smith.  The Tracy and Johnston Families attempted to have Tracy's body returned from Port Gibson through the highest levels of the Confederate War Department, but were unsuccessful…

100_4226Three long years would pass before the body of Brig. Gen. Edward Dorr Tracy, Jr. would be returned to Macon.  In fact, he was reinterred at Rose Hill Cemetery just nine days after the third anniversary of his death.  The final funeral was reported on by Harry J. Neville for the 11 May 1866 Macon Telegraph (full article may be viewed online at GenealogyBank):

The Funeral Honors to General Tracy.
Yesterday our whole population seemed to vie in paying tribute of respect to the remains of the lamented General E. D. Tracy, who fell at Port Gibson.  From an early hour until the procession had passed beyond the city limits, nearly every store was closed – many of our prominent merchants taking part in the ceremonies.

The body, in the original metallic casket in which it had been buried nearly three years ago, covered with a strong oaken box, was placed in state in the large hall in the Passenger Depot, to the left of the entrance.  This box, thought not draped with martial colors, was profusely decorated with immortelles, wreaths and boquets [sic] – among which the magnolia was prominent.

MagnoliaBloom2Near the head we noticed the following inscription, written by some loving hand:

"We placed him as rest, in his cold narrow bed,
And grieved o'er the marble we placed at his head,
As the proudest tribute our sad hearts could pay.
He never disgraced the jacket of grey."

While at the foot these lines might have been read:

"There is a tear for all who die --
A mourner o'er the humblest grave,
But nations swell the funeral cry,
And triumph weeps above the brave."

It was at first proposed to use the ordinary hearse for such occasions; but it having been proposed to obtain the fine new wagon of the National Express Company, it was readily secured, and under the efficient superintendence of Wm. H. Ross, Esq., and a committee of gentlemen, it was soon appropriately draped with black and white, and with its four fine horses, presented a fitting appearance.

At 11 o'clock precisely, the body was placed within the funeral car – the pall bearers being composed of alternate members of the Macon Volunteers and the Fire Department, to the number of six.

…The Volunteers, of which the deceased was a member, acted as escort of honor to the cortege,…

The procession was a long and most imposing one, and on the whole route, the people of every sex and condition lined the sidewalks, and by their sad looks evidenced that the heart of the whole community pulsated with grief on the occasion.

Though the old band of the Macon Volunteers was out, not a martial note broke the deep hush of the city.

Arrived at the Cemetery, the funeral services were read by the Rev. David Wills, of the Presbyterian Church – of which the lamented deceased had long been a member – and at the conclusion of the impressive service, all that was mortal of Edward D. Tracy was forever hid from mortal ken, to slumber amid the solitudes of Oak Ridge, till the final reveille shall summon the sleeper forth…

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