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Lt. Col. James Polk Dickinson

Lt. Col. James Polk Dickinson

Male 1816 - 1847  (31 years)

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  • Name Lt. Col. James Polk Dickinson 
    Prefix Lt. Col. 
    Born 21 Jan 1816  Camden, Camden Co., SC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Sep 1847  Mixchoac, ____, ____, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • He died of wounds during the Mexican War.
    Buried 22 Jan 1848  Old Presbyterian Cemetery, Camden, Camden Co., SC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I631  DNA Family 1 Genealogies
    Last Modified 29 Jan 2011 

    Father Henry H. Dickinson,   b. Between 1775 and 1784, ____, ____, ____, Bermuda Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1826, Camden, Camden Co., SC Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 51 years) 
    Mother Martha Brevard,   b. Abt 1780, ____, ____, NC Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1830  (Age ~ 50 years) 
    Married 1 Dec 1808  ____, ____, SC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Marriage Announcement Aft 1 Dec 1808  Kershaw, Lancaster Co., SC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Kershaw Diary 
    • Dickerson, Henry H. & Miss Martha Brevard, 1 Dec 1808. Kershaw Diary.
    Family ID F394  Group Sheet

    Family Emma S. Dyson,   b. Abt Jun 1826, ____, ____, SC Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Between 1900 and 1910  (Age ~ 73 years) 
    Married Bef 1847 
    Last Modified 29 Jan 2011 
    Family ID F393  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsDied - 12 Sep 1847 - Mixchoac, ____, ____, México Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 22 Jan 1848 - Old Presbyterian Cemetery, Camden, Camden Co., SC Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • According to the History of Mecklenburg County 1740-1900, p. 401:

      [Dr. Ephraim Brevard's] "only daughter, on arriving at years of womanhood, married a Dickerson, settled at Camden, S. C., and left one child, a son, James Polk Dickerson, who was Lieutentant Colonel of Butler's regiment of South Carolina Volunteers in the Mexican war; was severely wounded at the siege of Vera Cruz March 11, 1847; recovering from that, he was again badly wounded at Cherubusco on the 20th of August followig, and died of his wound three weeks later, greatly regretted by his regiment and the whole army."

      Historic Camden, pp. 131-135:

      "James Polk Dickinson was born in Camden, January 21, 1816. His father, Henry H. Dickinson, was an Englishman, from Bermuda, whose naturalization papers were taken out about 1802, at Camden, where he resided until his death in 1826.

      "His mother was Martha, daughter of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, reputed author of the disputed Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence and brother to Judge Joseph Brevard of Camden. His maternal grandmother was of the well known Polk family of North Carolina and Tennessee, and is said to have been a very beautiful woman.

      "He had an uncle, his father's brother, living in Bermuda, a wealthy merchant and planter, whom in his youth he visited. When twn years of age, being left an orphan, he was taken to the home of his cousin, Dr. Alfred Brevard, in Kirkwood, by whom he was raised to manhood.

      "His entire academic education seems to have been obtained under Henry P. Hatfield, at the Camden Academy.

      "His training in the law was received in the office of John M. DeSaussure. Before admission to the Bar, he served under Captain John Chestnut in the Florida War.

      "As a youth he is described as having been proud, high-spirited, restive under control.

      "When the DeKalb Rifle Guards was organized in 1840, he was chosen Captain, with Keith Moffat as 2nd Lieutenant.

      "About this time occurred his duel with Major Smart, which had elsewhere been discussed.

      "In 1842 he was elected to the Legislature where he remained for six years.

      "But it was not in the Forum that the finest talents of the man were to be displayed. His opportunity offered at the call to arms for the Mexican campaign in 1846. His old company, as stated, was the first in the State to volunteer, and Dickinson, then a COlonel, and James Cantey a Major, of militia offered among the first to enlist as privates in the ranks.

      "On the formation of the Palmetto Regiment, in July of that year, Pierce M. Butler was elected Colonel and James Polk Dickinson Lieutentant Colonel.

      "The energy and enthusiasm of Colonel Dickinson at this period were extraordinary. On the second call of Governor Johnson for volunteers, he stirred the whole county by his appeals. His speech on December 2, from the base of the DeKalb monument, when enlistments had not been as spontaneous as he wished, seems to have been a master-effort and to have marked him as an orator of no mean rank. The audience is said to have been fairly electrified by his burning eloquence. Men likened him to MacDuffie. One passionate utterance survived, to be later engraved upon his tomb: "I want a place in the picture near the flashing of the guns!" The ranks of the Kershaw Volunteers were soon filled, even grey-haired men offering themselves, and to Dickinson alone, the local paper attributes the credit of maintaining the honor of the District "in her hour of trial."

      "Colonel Dickinson's career is an inseparable part of the glory bequeathed by the Palmetto Regiment to South Carolina.

      "We are told that, having squandered his estates by prodigal generosity and extravagance and being submerged in debt, Dickinson saw in the battle-clouded plains of Mexico a path by which he might rise to the summit of his great ambition for military renown and commend himself in the eyes of his relative, President James K. Polk.

      "De that as it may, whatever the motive, he must have been a very magnificent figure on the battlefield. Of spendid physic - he was six feet four inches in height - he is described by correspondents and editors of the Camden papers in terms of most extravagant eulogy, as "the gallant, chivalrous and accomplished Dickinson *** majestic in intellect as in appearance"; "a very Incarnation of the Spirit of War", having "on fields of carnage, an aspect of grandeur and sublimity like the fabled heroes of antiquity", and, where the fight raged fiercest, inspiring all about him by his calmness, "like the serene angel that rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm", and so on. In less hyperbolic strain, one editorial says:

      'He has ever sought the post of danger and honor, and all who know Colonel Dickinson know that a braver man never unsheathed a sword.'

      "Casting aside the halo about his head in the popular imagination, he still stands forth a picturesque "beau sabreur", of great dash and natural ability, if of somewhat too dramatic instincts.

      "On the weary march from Atlanta to Montgomery, he performed a gallant deed of placing a tired boy from Fairfield on his horse and marching in his place for a whole day on foot.

      "At Vera Cruz, though severely wounded in the shoulder, he continued to lead two companies against a large body of Mexican Lancers.

      "At Churubusco, when the standard bearer of the Regiment was shot down, he seized the colors and carried them in advance of his men, though in his hands they were torn into rags and tatters by a storm of bullets.

      "In this engagement, owing to the death of Colonel Butler, Dickinson succeeded to the command of the Regiment. Fifteen minutes later, having received a ball in the ankle, he also fell, handing the flag and his sword to Major Gladden, with injunctions that the honor of the State be maintained.

      "He might have recovered from the wound, not a bone being broken, but amputation was ordered by the surgeons and this, from vanity it is said, Colonel Dickinson would not allow. A low typhoid fever set in, and, after lingering for thirty days, he died, at the village of Mixchoac, September 12, 1847.

      "He was only thrity-one years old. A very promising military career, barely unfolding, was cut short. The coveted distinction, a high place in the United States Army, would doubtless have been his, had he survived.

      "His remais were brought to Camden and interred in the old Presbyterian cemetery, January 22, 1848. The town has perhaps never witnessed so large and impressive a funeral. Minute guns were fired from "the old redoubt adjoining the Presbyterian Burial Ground."

      Grace (Episcopal) Church being far too small to seat the vast concourse, estimated at 3,000, a desk covered with black was put upon the base of the DeKalb monument, from which Dickinson had made his impassioned appeal for volunteers, and here Rev. Thomas F. Davis (later Bishop) pronounced an eloquent oration on "How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle". The long procession to the grave included numerous military and civic organizations, a band of music, and Colonel Dickinson's war horse, lead by his faithful body-servant Jim Lang, following the remains in an immense black leaden box, on a draped bier, drawn by four grey horses with appropriate trappings.

      "In 1856, the body was transferred to its present resting place in the central park of the town, then known as Log-town, now as Monument, Square. By popular subscription a very handsome shaft of Italian marble was, in the same year, erected over the grave, on which are inscribed, at some length, the glorious deeds and virtues of the sleeping soldier. The top of the shaft is surmounted by a helmet and wreath of laurel. On the faces are four shields, one bearing the name "Dickinson", a second the coat of arms of South Carolina, the other two, respectively, "Vera Cruz and Contreras", and "Churubusco". A heavy iron railing forms an enclosure.

      "Colonel Dickinson left no descendants. His wife was Miss Emma Dyson, a niece of General James W. Cantey. She, with General Cantey's daughter, Emma (Mrs. P. H. Nelson), were the two handsomest women in Camden, perhaps, of the period, and rival belles. Mrs. Dickinson later became the wife of Warren Nelson, of Stateburg."