Colonel James Gregory Hodges
14th Virginia Infantry
former mayor of Portsmouth, Virginia
This image is from an original Carte de Visite of Hodges held reverently by his family descendants. It was probably taken in the Portsmouth area in 1861. His collar stars and Virginia belt are shown in the photograph below. The stars were taken off of his ruined frock coat after he was stunned and burned by the close explosion of a Union shell in the charge of his regiment at the Battle of Malvern Hill. The buckle is the same one taken off of his body by a New York officer after Hodges was killed before the stone wall in Pickett's Charge, Battle of Gettysburg.
I would like to find an original of this Carte de Visite.
Kansas City Mo. Oct. 24 1903
Your letter of October 20th instant is just received. In reply I have to say:
The command in which I was then serving was in the front rank of the Union forces which met the charge of Pickett’s division on July 3, 1863.
After the struggle was over we discovered the bodies of a group of Confederate officers just beyond the low stone wall in front of our position one of whom wore the insignia of a Colonel. Some of our men found on his body a small pocket map of Virginia in which was written his name and rank “Jas. Gregory Hodges, Col. 14th Virginia Volunteers.”
This was handed to one of our superior officers. His sword and scabbard were broken in pieces by a shot, but a sergeant of our Regiment detached his sword belt and gave it to me. I brought it with me when I removed to the West at the close of the war and have had it here where I have resided for many years.
I have often thought that I would like to give it to some one of Col. Hodges’ family if I could, and recently meeting Senator Daniel of your State on my first visit to Washington since the war, I mentioned the matter to him and through his kind intervention have learned that you, the widow still survive and have been put in communication with you.
I am glad to be able to send you as I now do the sword belt Col. Hodges was wearing when he fell on that battlefield and to assure you by the circumstances I have mentioned that there can be no doubt of the genuiness of this relic of your gallant husband.
I can only tell you of him that he fell at the head of his men within a few feet of the line against which the attack was directed, surrounded by officers and soldiers whom he was leading and who fell beside him.
Since I saw Senator Daniel I visited the battle field for the first time since July 4, 1863 and think I identify the spot where he fell.
A little Northwest of the place where the “high tide” monument stands is a low stone wall into which a Pennsylvania Regiment has built an iron fence inclosing a small lot just west of the wall. As nearly as I can recollect it was just outside of that wall and very near the spot inclosed by that fence that his body was lying.
Our command was ordered away before the burial parties began their work and I cannot therefore, I regret to say, tell you of his place of interment.
Allow me to express to you my sympathy for the loss you have been called to mourn for so many years. Yet you have had the consolation of knowing that he died as a soldier in the faithful performance of duty.
Although my own sense of obligation placed me in the ranks of those with whom he fought, I cannot forbear my tribute to his bravery and devotion.
I remain Madam very respectfully,
John D.S. Cook
Late Captain 80th N.Y. Inf. Vols.
Mrs. James Gregory Hodges