Civil War Institute
For my most recent, and likely final, foray into the Killed at Gettysburgdigital project, I delved into the story of Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh, Adjutant for “Alleghany” Johnson’s Division. This has certainly been a departure from my previous projects, Private Hannibal Howell of the 76th New York Infantry and Private James Bedell of the 7th Michigan Cavalry. Rather than examining unknown stories of Union privates, I worked to narrate the life and death of a Confederate officer. This was certainly a challenge, both because I lacked familiarity with Confederate primary sources and because of my inherent Unionist biases. I decided that the best way for me to approach the topic was to research someone with clear causes that motivated him as he joined the Confederate army. This way I wouldn’t need to presume his motivation and would instead be able to be fairly confident about why he chose to serve. Leigh’s immense wealth, familial upbringing by a father who was a vocal defender of slavery, and ownership of dozens of human beings makes it painfully clear that he understood the cause of the Confederacy to be the cause of furthering slavery. [excerpt]
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Tracey, Jonathan, "More than a Stereotype?: A Reflection on the Life of Benjamin Watkins Leigh" (2018). The Gettysburg Compiler: On the Front Lines of History. 330.