A Civil War Biography

Arnold Elzey (Jones)

Elzey was born Arnold Elzey Jones on 18 December 1816 at "Elmwood" in Somerset County, Maryland. He was appointed to West Point in 1833 and entered that institution as a cadet on 1 September of that year. He graduated 33rd in the class of 1837 on 1 July 1837 he was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant to the 2nd artillery. Shortly after graduation he dropped the Jones from his name figuring there were many Jones in the US Army and, wanting to make a name for himself, he would be the only Elzey. Elzey was his paternal grandmother's name. He served during the Seminole War in Florida in 1837 and 1838 then in the Cherokee nation. He was assigned at Detroit, Michigan during the border disputes in 1839. We was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 12 November 1839 and spent the next few years on recruiting duty. He saw action during the war with Mexico and was brevetted captain for gallantry along with being cited by the Maryland General Assembly for his service. He was promoted to captain on 14 February 1849 and fought in the Seminole wars of 1849-1850 and 1856.

When the Civil War erupted Elzey was in command of the US arsenal at Augusta, Georgia. After he surrendered the arsenal to Confederate authorities in early April 1861 he led his troops in his command to Washington DC where on 25 April 1861 he resigned from the army. He then headed to Richmond where he offered his services to the Confederacy. He was assigned as a colonel in the 1st Maryland infantry regiment. He commanded a brigade in Kirby Smith's division at First Manassas and after Smith was wounded Elzey led a successful charge for which he was praised by the army's commander, PGT Beauregard. Elzey was promoted in the field to brigadier general by Jefferson Davis to rank from 21 July 1861. He commanded the 4th brigade in Richard Ewell's division during "Stonewall" Jackson's storied Valley Campaign. Elzey was wounded in the leg and his horse was shot from under him at Port Republic. Still commanding the 4th brigade during the Seven Days he was severely wounded at Gaines' Mill. A minie ball struck him just above the mouth and passed out behind his left ear. This wound kept him from further active service. When he did return to active duty he was promoted to major general to rank from 4 December 1862 and given command of the Department of Richmond in charge of defending the capital. He organized the Local Defense Brigade made up of government clerks. He also helped organize the Virginia reserves. As the war was drawing to a close he joined John B. Hood in Georgia serving as chief of artillery for the Army of Tennessee. By the time Elzey joined Hood, Hood's army had already been wrecked. Elzey was relieved of any further duty on 17 February 1865. He was paroled at Washington, Georgia in May 1865.

Following his parole at Washington, Georgia in May 1865, Elzey retired to a farm near Jessup's Cut, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He died 21 February 1871 in Baltimore, Maryland.

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