CAPT W. J. BLAKE IS DEAD
Newspaper unknown – Obituary
It was printed at Prescott Arikansas and we do not know it’s date.
This article was found in the family Bible of William J. Gourley
37th Ark. Inf. Co. I., CSA
Without a murmur or struggle his heart ceased to beat while the family sat at breakfast nearby. His pulse always slow – from to 50 to 60 in health. It had gone down to only 38 beats per minute the night before.
Thus peacefully came the end to the life began in South Carolina in 1830, rounding out 75 years.
The Blake family came from South Carolina in 1858 and rented the Williford place within a mile of the Madden old home place in this county.
During the first year in Arkansas, Capt. Blake lost his mother and two brothers of measles and we lost our grand mother Royston in January 1859. Sorrow brought us into sympathy then and it has continued 46 years.
Capt. Blake and his father and brother, E. H. Blake, bought farms about 3 miles north of the Williford place and helped to make that community one of the first in the county.
When the war come on, W. J. Blake went promptly into service as a private, leaving a young wife with Payden as the baby.
In the spring of 1862, he came home and we elected him 1st Lieutenant of Capt. W. R. Basden’s Company which became Co. “I” Pleasants, afterwards Bell’s Regiment, Fagan’s Brigade afterwards Hawthorne’s Brigade, Churchill’s Division, CSA.
Capt. W. R. Basden was ordered with his company to Little Rock. The day was set to leave and the men fell into ranks along the road by my house to Camden. I waited for them there. While the men rested at our spring, my mother sent for Lieut. Blake and asked him to take care of her boy and bring him back safely to her, if possible. She told him that she was sending Sandford, a Negro boy, along with me to cook and wash and asked him to take me into tent with him and use the Negro boy as I did. Lieut. Blake promised to do what he could for me and I felt like I had a protector. That night we slept under the same beech tree and ate our home cooked rations together, Sandford making real rio coffee for us. We tented together till Capt. Blake was captured at Helena and I was taken to brigade headquarters.
In a few months W. R. Basden was discharged for ill health and thus Lieutenant become Capt. Blake. He at on e met the expectations of his company and superiors. In Camp his first care was for the comfort and health of his men. He took especial pride n his company’s drill and equipment. He steadily brought them to the front until there was absolutely no superior in the army.
For the last year of the war Co “I” was the crack company of the regiment, brigade and division. The guns of Co “I” were marvels of brightness and beauty. Gen. MaGruder, Lieut. Gen. Holmes and E.K. Smith and every other inspector were attracted to this company and complimented Capt. Blake and his men repeatedly and publicly.
As senior Captain, W. J. Blake for many months had command of the regiment. He always preferred his own company, but the regiment maintained it’s discipline under his command.
Some of us were with him July 4th, 1863. Our regiment was on the extreme right. Our company supported the flag in Company “E”. Early that morning we surprised and captured the outposts and then double-quicked under cover of sharp hills over logs and brush to position to charge the fort. Here we heard Capt. Blake’ cool firm quiet firm voice “Steady men! Steady! Charge!” Over the hill we sent with a yell, but not to stay together. Grape and cannister plowed a dividing road and to avoid certain death there 185 of the regiment escaped and 15 or 20 of the company were left on the field. Comrades present know what Johnson Island prison was and may tell you. After many months, a fake effort was made towards exchange. Capt. Blake jumped from the window of a moving car and made his way from hear Baltimore through Virginia, the Carolinas and on to his command in Arkansas.
Capt. Blake loved a good soldier, a good citizen and a good christian. If he ever loved any bad ones I never found it out. He despised the shirks wherever found. “Faithfulness” was perhaps his leading characteristic. He was not of meteoric brilliancy but he was true and steady as a fixed star. He was singularly devoted to his wife, as many of you know. And I know that as long as any of us got any pay, Capt. Blake sent most of it home for wife and baby. His faithfulness at Helena that July charge. His voice brought back that command “Steady, men!” and I saw he was ready. And now my Captain, I have done what you asked. I bring no fullsome eulogy, but the sincere tribute of friendship and comradeship for myself and these beloved comrades of Camp Walter Bragg, which you organized.
May your long life of loyalty to duty steady your boys and ours amidst the trials which must come to them as the conflicts of our generation come to us. May they too, prove faithful to “God and Home and Native land.”
Tell the boys of Company “I” we are coming and we’ll answer at the roll call bye and bye.
W. A. Hatley.
Many Thanks to L. Nash of Stephens, Arkansas who sent this to us
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