Biography of Colonel Calvin A. Craig
Clarion County, PA Biographies





CRAIG, COLONEL CALVIN AUGUSTUS, One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Veteran Vohinteers. "Calvin Augustus Craig, third son of Washington and Nancy (Thompson) Craig, was born in Clarion county December 7, 1833. At an early age he gave evidence of an unusually active and studious mind, and, with only the advantages of the public schools, made rapid progress in learning, soon mastering the branches there taught. He was a careful reader, profiting by what he read, and was more intelligent and cultivated than many who possess all the advantages of a collegiate course. In the fall of 1858 he graduated from Duff's Commercial College, Pittsburgh, Pa., having determined to devote himself to a business career, for which he was eminently fitted."

Afterwards, in the spring of 1859, he spent some time in traveling in the South and Southwest, with a view to enlarging his knowledge by coming in contact with the citizens of these localities. Rev. James S. Elder (now pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Clarion), his friend and pastor, in the address delivered at Colonel Craig's funeral, says of this trip:

"His opinions and criticisms showed how closely and narrowly he scanned the customs and views of the people among whom he sojourned, and proved him to be a shrewd and careful observer. He closely scrutinized the workings and influence of the institution of slavery. His observations, confirming what every intelligent man knows to be true, that whoever seeks to degrade the low himself must sink. . . . . . He had witnessed the evil workings of slavery himself; and ever afterwards cherished an increased antipathy to the inhuman institution."

On his return from this trip he engaged in lumbering, afterwards engaging in the mercantile business with his father, at Greenville, Clarion county. His success in both these enterprises showed him eminently fitted for a business career. But when the tocsin of war rang through the land, his soul was, filled with patriotic ardor, and he at once enlisted in Captain A. A. McKnight's company of three months men, and at the close of that term of service he returned home and recruited a company in Clarion county for Colonel McKnight's regiment, which company was known as Company "C," of the One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, his commission as captain bearing date of September 6, 1861. On the 29th of May he was promoted to the lieutenant colonelcy, made vacant by the resignation of Colonel Corbet, and to colonel, May 4, 1863, upon the death of the gallant McKnight, his friend and cousin, whom he deeply mourned. In asking his promotion, General Graham, commanding the First Brigade, First Division of the Third Corps, to which the One Hundred and Fifth was attached, wrote to Governor Curtin as follows:

"Colonel A. A. McKnight, of the 105th Reginent Pa. Vols., having been killed while gallantly leading his men in a charge against the enemy, on which occasion Lieutenant Colonel Calvin A. Craig succeeded him in command, and behaved with equal coolness and courage, I consider it a duty to the service to recommend that LieutenantColonel Craig be promoted to the vacancy occasioned by the death of the heroic McKnight. In soliciting this promotion, I am influenced alone by a desire to keep up the high standard of the 105th Regiment, one of the noblest regiments in the United States service."

That he was worthy of this confidence and capable of filling this responsible position, the conduct of Colonel Craig on many desperately fought fields bore witness. His heart was ever true to his country; his letters to his friends all breathed of this great devotion to the cause for which he was fighting. With him, duty was a watchword, and duty to his country paramount to all other considerations. This is exemplified in the following extract from a letter received from him by the writer, just after the fall of Colonel McKnight, and. his own promotion:

"When I entered the army, during the three months service as a private, I did so because I thought it was a duty I owed my country. I have risen from the ranks to be colonel of this regiment; and as private, captain, and lieutenant-colonel, I think I have had but this one object in view, and that is to serve my country to the best of my ability. If I have failed, it has been an error of the head and not of the heart."

Colonel Craig was ardently attached to the brave men of his command, and they in turn gave him their love, respect, and prompt obedience. This feeling of pride and confidence in the officers and men of his regiment is fully illustrated in the following extracts from letters written by him while in the service. In writing of the battle of Gettysburg, he says:

"The regiment never fought better in the world It rallied some eight or ten times after all the balance of the brigade had left it. I could handle them just as well on that field of battle as though they had simply been on drill. This is a state of perfection in drill that is gained by but few regiments. Confidence on the part of officers and men in one another is what makes troops perfect. This is the case in this regiment. I have full confidence in my men, and I believe that they have confidence in their officers; that they will not ask them to do anything that they are afraid to do themselves."

Again,, of the same battle:

"The regiment never did better. When they moved forward on the charge at 'double quick,' and with scarcely an inch of difference in their glittering bayonets, every man at his post-oh I but I did feel proud of them. I know I have a kind of weakness for this regiment; for I tell you, it is a regiment to be proud of."

In the same letter, in writing of the dangers attending his position, he says:

"I love my country, and am willing to fight for her; and, if needs be, to die for her."

In writing of the battle of Auburn, he says:

"I know it is in bad taste to write or talk about one's self and I suppose it is equally bad to' write or talk about one's own regiment or company, and you may think that I write this in praise of my own regiment to make myself appear in a favorable light; but I trust that you, who know me so well, will not think so. When I speak of the regiment, I mean the regiment, and not myself People are at liberty to think of me as they will; but I do insist that the actions of the regiment shall appear in a proper light, whether that places me in an honorable or disgraceful position. I will close this by simply saying that the One Hundred and Fifth is one of the best regiments in the service. At the affair at Auburn, no men could have behaved better, and the officers equally as well; in fact, not a man shrank from duty, but each stood up manfully, as if the destiny of the Republic rested on his individual shoulders."

These extracts go to show the true patriotism of the man, and the unselfishness of his character, for he was. no reckless adventurer, but one for whom the ties that bound him to his home were of the strongest nature. On the 1st of February, 1864, while at home on veteran furlough, after the re-enlistment of his regiment, Colonel Craig was married to Miss Elmira J. Craig, of Greenville, Clarion county, and when he again returned to the field it was not only affectionate parents and fond sisters and brothers, but a loving wife, the bride of a few short weeks, with whom he was called to part.

Colonel Craig was in all the battles in which his regiment took part, from the siege of Yorktown to that of Petersburg, with the exception of the battles of Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor, when he was at home on account of wounds. He was wounded in the head slightly during the Seven Days battles before Richmond; at the Second Bull Run his horse was killed, and he was severely wounded in the ankle; at Gettysburg he had three horses shot under him; at the battle of the Wilderness he was shot in the face, severing the facial artery, and but for the devotion of some of his men, who, for thirty-six hours, stood with fingers pressed to the wound, until he could obtain surgical aid, he would have bled to death; at the siege of Petersburg he was slightly wounded in the shoulder by a piece of shell; and at the battle of Deep Bottom, Va., August 16, 1864, while in command of the Second Brigade, Third Division of the Second Corps, he was mortally wounded in the head, and lingered in unconsciousness until the next day, when he redeemed his pledge to "die, if needs be," for his country.

Colonel Craig's remains were taken in charge by his young brother, J. H. Craig, who had served with him all through the war, and sadly borne to his home, where, amid the tears and bitter grief of the young wife, who yet mourns her dead hero, and of the aged father and mother, brothers and sisters, who so dearly loved him, and the sorrow of the entire community, he was laid to rest in the shadow of the pines overlooking his boyoood's home.


From:
History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its prominent pioneers.
EDITED BY: A. J. Davis
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
1887


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