ROBINSON B. MURPHY
Illinois Volunteer Infantry
MILITARY ORDER MEDAL OF HONOR LEGION
Town Printing Company
ROBINSON B. MURPHY.
ROBINSON B. MURPHY. 1862.
ROBINSON B. MURPHY
Robinson B. Murphy was one of the ver}' youngest of all the
school boys that served in the army during the War of Secession.
He was born May ii, 1849, ^^^ enlisted August 6th, 1862. His
official record is a most remarkable one. ' 'At Atlanta, Ga. July
28, 1864, being Orderly to the Brigade Commander, he voluntarily
led two regiments as reinforcements into the line of battle, where
he had his horse shot from under him. "
So he enlisted in the War of the Rebellion Aug. 6, 1862, at the
age of 13 years, two months, and twenty-four days, in the 127th I
Illinois Volunteer Infy. and was made Orderly to the Colonel of the
Regiment. In January, 1864, he was made Orderly to General J.
A. J. Lightburn, and participated in several hard-fought battles. '
In the army he was known as "Bob." When he performed the
wonderful feat that gained him the Medal he w^as only 15 years old.
The circumstances under which young Murphy led two regiments
into battle were as follows: The division in which General Light-
burn commanded was that day on the extreme right of the army,
which was being flanked by the enemy. Young Murphy was sent
to the right by his General to find out the situation and finding that
the enemy had flanked the right wing and were driving them, he
rode on his pony down the line and met General Logan, who com-
manded the Army of the Tennessee that day, and begged him with
tears in his eyes for re-inforcements, telling him they were cutting
our right all to pieces. The General replied "I have ordered re-
inforcements from the left, and here they come now, and if you know
where they are needed. Bob, show them in." And that is how he
came to lead the two regiments that day. General Lightbum wrote
regarding Bob, that he was ' 'Not only brave and faithful, but dis-
played remarkable judgment for one of his age, as I soon found out.
I could depend on him under any circumstances that might arise."
We think it might be interesting to tell of ' 'Bob" before he enlisted
and how he came to be enlisted so young. Bob's father was a lawyer,
and a public spirited citizen, having made many war speeches and
undoubtedly influenced many men to enlist. In 1861, Bob ran
away from home, walking across the country to Joliet, 111., eighteen
miles, and succeeded in persuading one of the officers of the 20th 111.
to take him with them, but before the regiment left for the South,
Bob's father heard where he was, and had him brought home.
In 1862, at a war meeting held in the Court House at Oswego,
Wright Murphy being called upon for a speech, wound up by saying,
"I have asked a great many men to enlist, and now I propose to
enlist myself." At this Bob jumped up and going forward wanted
to enlist also, but his father would not allow him to do so, on account
of his being the only son, and because of his youth. After arguing the
matter for two weeks, his father trying in every way possible to dis-
suade him, Bob simply saying "Papa, if you do not consent to let
me go with you, I will run away, as I am determined to go to the war, "
His father, not wishing to back out himself, finally gave his consent,
and Bob became a soldier with his father, whose age at enlistment
was 51 years, and that of Bob, 13 years. Bob took his father home
to die, in Sept., 1864, but he returned after sixty days and was made
Orderly on the staff of Gen. Webster, who was Chief of Staff to Gen.
Sherman, and was mustered out as such at the close of the war, in
June, 1865, at Washington, D. C., after participating in the Grand
Review of the Armies at Washington, Mustered out, a veteran of
many great battles, and the greatest war of history, distinguished,
honored and decorated with a Congress Medal, and he was but six-
teen years of age, and when mustered out enjoyed the great honor of
being an Orderly on the Staff of General Sherman.
He was recommended to the Secretary of War by his regiment,
and endorsed and approved by General Lightburn, who commanded
the division, for appointment as Lieutenant. He took an active
part in Grand Army affairs for a number of years, and in 1891 was
elected Commander of Wells Post, Columbus, Ohio. He comes of
fighting and patriotic stock and traces his ancestral line back to
1742, when they first settled in this country. Their personal historv
is involved in the stirring and thrilling scenes of the French and
Indian War of 1753. ^^"^ 175S. they were represented in that con-
flict with the Twelve Hundred Highlanders under General Forbes,
from South Carolina, and the nineteen hundred men from Virginia,
under the command of the beloved General Washington, who met
at the head waters of the Ohio, the combined forces of the French,
and their Indian allies.
In the Indian war of July, 1763, his forefathers suffered all the
horrors of the times. One of them, William Anderson, an old man
was killed with the Bible in his hand as he was engaged in family
worship, and with his son, and a girl, a schoolmaster and ten small
children were killed and scalped. William Robinson, one of three
brothers, as he lay weltering in his blood in his last agonies, handed
his gun to Charles Elliott, saying, ' 'Take my gun, and peace or war,
whenever you see an Indian, kill him for my sake, and I shall be
satisfied." Just one hundred years afterwards General Sheridan
said, ' 'The only good Indian is a dead Indian. "
One of them commanded a company under General i\nthony
Wayne, at Ticonderoga, in 1776, and was wounded at Brandywine.
They were also represented in the first regiment of the united Colonies,
commanded by Gen. George Washington.
In a letter received by the writer from Companion Murphy he
tells of the death of General McPherson, and it is in such graphic
language and recalls so vividly the day on which he received his
Medal that the writer inserts it here as a part of Companion Murphy's
' 'July 22, 1864, is a memorable day to the Army of the Tennessee
—the day on which their beloved General McPherson was killed.
The 1 7th Army Corps was on the extreme left of the army under Gen-
eral Sherman where the enemy charged most desperately time and
again, to turn our left, during that terrible battle. Our gallant
General Giles A. Smith, commanding the division on the left, was
forced bv the enemy's flanking to change his front seven times dur-
ing that afternoon, jum]^ing from one side to another of the breast-
works, driving the enemy back each time, and reform, charging again,
only to be repulsed. During this fighting, General McPherson who
was in command of the Army of the Tennessee, rode around to the ex-
treme left to reconnoitre, leaving his staff and Orderly, he advanced
a little further along, and rode into an ambuscade of the Confederates
who shot him. He fell from his horse dead. A rush was made for
his body, one of his aides securing it. The fact of his death was kept
from the Army as long as possible. Orders came to our headquarters
for General Lightburn to take command of the Second division, 15th
Army Corps. We ask ' 'Where is General Morgan L. Smith. " "He
takes command of the corps," was the reply. Then with heart
throbbing we ask, " Why, where is General Logan?" (for all idolized
'Black Jack' as we then called him) " we were then told that General
McPherson had been killed, and Gen. Logan had taken his place as
commander of the Army of the Tennessee. What a pall came over
us; for there was not a commander of any army more beloved by
his men, from the rank and file to the highest, than was that hand-
some tender-hearted gallant General McPherson. As General Light-
burn was accorded the privilege of viewing the remains before taken
from the field, the writer being with him at the time, as his Orderly,
was granted the same privilege. Around that ambulance were
manv Generals and their staff with uncovered heads, and not a dry
e\^e as we rode silently away. Those who knew him could well say :
' 'Of softest manner, unaffected mind,
Lover of peace and friend of human kind,
Go live, for Heaven's eternal rest is thine.
Go, and exalt this mortal, to divine. "
Companion Murphy is married, his wife's maiden name being
Lina V. Doran, a descendant of the Cresswell family, of Berkshire,
England. They have two children, Martha C. and Margenia, the
latter of whom will inherit his Medal.
His daughter, Martha Charlotte, was married to Charles A.
Macatee, of Clifton Forge, Va., May nth, 1905, who is a graduate
in the academic department at Washington and Lee University, a
bachelor of law of George Washington University, Washington, D. C,
a prominent and exceedingly popular member of the Phi Kappa
Sigma Fraternity and is associated with the legal department of
the C. & O. Railwav Co.