VANNUYS, Samuel Watson

Date of birth:  22 January 1841 – Franklin, Johnson County, Indiana
Date of death: 20 September 1864 – Richmond, Virginia

Source: Franklin Jeffersonian, Saturday Morning, October 22, 1864

Capt. Samuel Watson Vannuys

This accomplished and gallant officer was born within the present corporate limits of the city of Franklin, on the 22d day of January, 1841. Consequently he was in the 23d year of his age, when he gave up his life for the life of his Government. Previous to the rebellion, he was preparing himself for a col­legiate course; and in the excellent Hopewell Academy, had already made rapid progress in his studies. In many of the important branches of education he had become proficient, and was industriously preparing to enter College when the atrocious rebellion broke out, and patriots were called to the rescue of the Country. He left his school‐aban­doned his studies and, although, of fine, manly form, and commanding personal appearance, he modestly stepped into the ranks as a common soldier, in the Company of Capt. Lambertson which afterwards formed Company “F,” 7th Ind. Vols. He served in this capacity between one and two years, sharing all the dangers and hardships of the field and camp, when all the officers of his Regiment, joined in a recommendation to Governor Morton for his promotion. There being no vacancy in his Regi­ment, and as there were no new Regi­ments then forming, his papers were forwarded to Washington, and he was appointed to a first Lieutenancy, in the 4th U.S. Colored Regiment. He accep­ted the position, and engaged with zeal in the training of these Colored patriots, in the use of firearms, and the duties of the soldier. He was astonished at his success, and their aptness in learning the whole manual of arms. Nor was he long in doubt as to their possession of that indispensable requisite of the soldier—bravery in the face of danger.

Such was his success, in training his Company, that his superior officers became convinced that he was “born to command,” and was soon promoted to a Captaincy. He served as Captain but a short time, until he was placed upon the General’s staff, and when he was killed, he was Acting Adjutant General of the 4th U.S. Colored Regiment, 3d Brigade 3d Division, 18th Army Corps.

On the 20th of September, a charge upon some rifle pits of the enemy was ordered. General Duncan with his staff and 600 men, were the attacking party. The General was wounded and will, probably, lose a leg. Captain Vannuys was killed, and another staff officer was severely wounded. Four of their five horses were killed, and 390 of the 600 men engaged were either killed or wounded. Captain Vannuys’ horse was killed and he led his men on foot to within a very few yards of the rebel pits, when they were met by such a murderous fire, as no men on earth would stand. The men recoiled, and as they turned our Hero received a shot in the neck, severing the carotid artery, and, it is supposed, killing him instantly. The men were soon rallied and reinforced and returned to the charge and drove the enemy from their works. Although, not more than 20 minutes elapsed between the retreat and the return of the attacking party, the enemy had robbed him of his watch, money and clothes.

Thus fell the gallant Watson Vannuys. His body was embalmed and sent home to his stricken parents and friends, and we had the pleasure of beholding once more, the noble form of the fallen Patriot and Hero.


Link to Capt. Samuel Watson Vannuys’ grave

Submitted by Hutchinson & Cortright