On the bureau in the “Cabinet Bedroom” upstairs in the First White House is a photo of John Pelham, one of our heroes, so much so that he is called the “Gallant Pelham”. Honestly I think every man who served was a hero, but some we must never forget.
Pelham fought with such valor and dedication for the Confederacy, finally giving his life for her, so that he has become symbolic of Alabama fighting men in all wars.
He resigned from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1861, just weeks before graduation, in order to return to Alabama and enter the Confederate Army. He was involved in every major military campaign of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry from First Manassas to Kelly’s Ford, more than 60 encounters.
He particularly distinguished himself at Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg. Jackson wrote of him: With a Pelham on each flank, I believe I could whip the world”. Lee praised “the gallant Pelham” in his report after Fredericksburg.
At Kelly’s Ford on March 17, 1863, Pelham participated in a cavalry charge and was struck in the head by an exploding Union artillery shell. He died the next morning. Such is the way of War. What a loss. All we can say is “oh, if only…”