“The man the Jamestown GAR honored,” Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal, 6 September 1975, p.7M.
The Post-Journal website: http://post-journal.com/
The man the Jamestown GAR honored
Editor’s Note: Co. James M. Brown was the Jamestown Union Officer for whom the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic was named. This biography, thought to have been written by his son, was supplied to us by Norman Christ of Buffalo. It was hand-written in old fashioned script on yellowed paper. This version represents an educated guess as to the wording.
James Malcolm Brown, colonel of the 100th Regiment, New York State Volunteers, was born in Dundee, Scotland, on the 24th of February, November, 1825. In his early years the family removed to Portreo in the Isle of the Skye, and in the twelfth year of his life they took up their residence in the city of Glasgow. Here he began to develop those mental capacities which so distinguished him in after life, and, after obtaining the highest honors in the high school of that city, he applied himself to the study of medicine, attending lectures in the Medical College.
Before he had attained his majority, he left the paternal mansion and came to this country, selecting as his residence the city of New Orleans, where he pursued his studies until the beginning of the war with Mexico. He then entered the army as assistant surgeon, remaining with his regiment until peace was declared and he was mustered out of the service at Mackinaw. It may not be out of place to mention here that Surgeon Brown occupied for nearly 18 months a tent with Lt. (now president) Grant. That the young surgeon then discerned in the cool and daring lieutenant, the germs of those remarkable qualities, which, in their development, were destined to achieve such momentous results in the future of our country; and that long afterward, during the first year of the rebellion, our great commander had proved himself capable of accomplishing those mightly deeds which have rendered his name famous, Mr. Brown had often predicted to his intimate friends that Grant, if he lived, would be one of the greatest generals of our time!
The practice of medicine does not seem to have been in accordance with the tastes and temperament of Mr. Brown for we find him after the close of the Mexican War, a student in the law office of Messrs. Harvey and Reynolds of Detroit, Mich., who were among the leading attorneys of that city. Here he applied himself with the utmost diligence to the study of his new profession, and was admitted to the bar of that state in the year 1851.
On the 18th of January 1852 he was married to Miss Charlotte Cook, a daughter of Dr. Robert Cook, formerly a physician of Argyle, N. Y. and in the summer of 1853 he removed to Jamestown where his widow with her three sons still resides. Here he became a partner of Hon. Madison Burnell, since deceased, who was then one of the ablest lawyers of Chautauqua County, and John F. Smith, who afterwards became Colonel of the 112th Regt. NYS Volunteers, a brave officer who fell in the attack on Fort Fisher. Mr. Brown practiced with good success as a member of the above firm, and also on his own responsibility, until the breaking out of the Rebellion in the spring of 1861.
When the echoes of the guns of Sumter reverberated throughout the land proclaiming to the loyal citizens of the North that a civil war was inevitable, the soul of our hero was eager for the strife, which he knew must speedily begin. The proclamation of President Lincoln calling for 75,000 volunteers met with no readier or more enthusiastic response throughout the length and breadth of the loyal portion of their own country, than in the town where Mr. Brown resided.
Before any of his townsmen had had time to consider what was the first thing to be done, Mr. Brown raised his standard and called for recruits to form a company. Many of the most respectable young men of the town enlisted under his command, and in an incredibly short space of time, 112 men more than the full complement were enrolled. The commission of James M. Brown as captain 72nd Regt. of Co. B was the first one applied for and issued in Chautauqua County during the Rebellion. And his company was the first to depart for the scene of war.
The citizens vied with each other in their efforts to promote the welfare and comfort of the men, previous to their departure, and that there might be no delay, busied themselves in providing uniforms and subsistence and when the day of departure came, advanced the men means of transportation to New York. The ladies industriously worked to prepare food, haversacks and comfortable underclothing, and wrought with their own hands a beautiful silken flag, which they presented to the company.
Upon its arrival at New York it was attached to Gen. Sickles’ Brigade, and ordered to encamp at Staten Island. Capt. Brown remained in command, preparing his men for the stern duties of a soldier’s life and bringing his company into a condition of high discipline, during the summer of 1861, when he was ordered home on recruiting service.
It appears that his fine soldierly bearing as an officer and his evident military abilities, had attracted the attention of Gen. Scroggs in command of the Eagle Brigade, then recruiting at Buffalo, and the General offered Capt. Brown the colonelcy of the 100th regiment which was attached to the brigade, and awaiting its full complement of men. Capt. Brown accepted the position, and his resignation as Captain of Company B having been accepted on the 5th of November 1861, he proceeded to Buffalo to assume the command of his regiment.
Carrying with him the same prompt and resolute disposition, he determined on making the 100th effective in the shortest possible time, and taxed their energies to the utmost in order that his command might excel. His own indefatigable spirit became reflected in every soldier, and he won their utmost confidence in him, as an able and competent leader.
When his regiment entered into active service, “He lived as the others lived: slept on the cold wet ground, ate soldiers’ rations, and in all regards endured the hardships of the campaign like the privates. He bore all privations without murmuring for himself but not without feeling keenly for his men.
At Seven Pines he was in the saddle, and his regiment under arms, ere the order had reached him. He led them into action “with the stern joy which warriors feel” when going out to battle. Through the former part of the fight he sat quietly on his horse, a conspicuous target, calmly smoking his pipe, except when giving orders or executing a movement. When the action grew hot as Hades, he raged up and down the line, encouraging the men by voice and example, his leonine courage roused, the light of battle in his eyes, a soldier terrible in his splendid bravery.
“When came that fatal order to charge, he was heard to denounce the order, it was his duty, with death staring them all in the face, to execute. Here came out one of the finest traits of the soldier. For one instant looking straight forward at inevitable disorder and rout, he cried out in his great lion-like voice, “Charge the one hundredth!” Officers and men saw the trap they must go into.
But ‘theirs is not to question why! Theirs is but to do and die! Though some one had blundered’.
On went the One Hundredth! The history of that fight, of the noble devotion and courage of Col. Brown and the 100th Regiment, is written on the bosom of mother earth, in the mounds that are scattered over the field of Seven Pines.
A braver gentlemen than Col. Brown never lived. His body lies unknown in some mound on the field of that terrible fray, but his memory will live in the hearts of his countrymen who honor bravery and worth, so long as the pen of history shall inscribe the noble deeds of chivalry.”
His memory is fondly cherished in the beautiful village where he resided. Camp James M. Brown is the name of a field which was the “mustering place” of two noble regiments (the 112th and 154th NY) who in 1862 went forth from Jamestown to battle for the nation’s life, and “Post James M. Brown, Grand Army of the Republic” is formed of the surviving heroes of the war who are residents of the town. Year after year upon “Decoration Day” they repair to the cemetery in the outskirts of the village to participate in the touching and beautiful ceremonies of the day, and a mound is always erected in memory of the brave Colonel, which fair hands tenderly decorate with flowers.