Biography of General Maxcy Gregg

"General Gregg was a brave and accomplished officer, full of heroic sentiment and chivalrous honor. He had rendered valuable service in this great struggle for our freedom, and the country has much reason to deplore the loss sustained by his premature death." - Thomas J. Jackson

Many of the so-called "fire-eaters" (those who rabidly pushed for Southern secession) did not put their money where their mouths were by actually taking part in the fighting. A notable exception was General Maxcy Gregg of South Carolina.


Born August 1, 1814 in Columbia, South Carolina, Gregg was present in Mexico for the Mexican War but apparently saw no action. A man of many talents, he was a practicing lawyer when the Civil War began. He was a man of considerable wealth and courtly manners who went off to War carrying an antique scimitar from the Revolutionary War.

Slightly deaf, Gregg was well regarded as an authority in ornithology, astronomy, and other scientific subjects (Gregg even had his own private observatory). A strong advocate of South Carolina's secession and a slave holder, Gregg went to War as commander of the 1st Infantry. He was promoted to general in December 1861 and saw action at all of the Light Division's battles until his death.

Probably his most notable action was at Second Manassas where his brigade took the brunt of the Federal assault and men remembered Gregg pacing behind them, lopping daises on the knoll with the scimitar and saying "Let us die here men, let us die here." Here, Douglas Freeman noted, Gregg won "Homeric fame."

 He was wounded in the same barrage of fire that killed General Branch at Sharpsburg; bruised in the thigh by the bullet, the next morning at breakfast he discovered the ball when he opened his handkerchief! Gregg had a feud with Stonewall Jackson which is covered in detail on the second page of the Hill-Jackson feud page in this web site.

Gregg was mortally wounded on December 13, 1862 at the battle of Fredericksburg. The bullet went through his back into his spine while he was mounted on his horse and rallying his troops. Gregg died of the wounds on the 15th and is buried in Columbia's Elmwood Cemetery.