Alpheus Starkey Williams

       For years, I passed a brooding bronze sculpture of an American Civil War General while on my way to play handball on magnificent Belle Isle Park in the narrows between Detroit and Windsor.  I wondered who he was. I even wondered who his horse was.

      Copying the name Alpheus Starkey Williams from the base of the statue, I went to the Detroit Public Library.  Only one book about him existed.  This was a collection of his letters which appeared in 1959 under the name of "From The Cannon's Mouth; the Civil War Letters of Alpheus Starkey Williams"*.

      I read them with growing interest and discovered a self-effacing human being able to rise above the tumult about him to appreciate the beauty of a Shenandoah valley, marvel at a mud march, suffer the pain of appalling losses and the reflect on the guilty pleasures of the thrill of battle.  Drawn in, I researched him further.  I read his hand written letters and diaries and his operation reports.  What emerged was a genuine and poetic unsung hero whose actions may have saved the Union Army on two occasions and once, perhaps, even the Union itself.

      His finely written depictions of the Shenandoah drew me there when. in April 1995, I took a family vacation that followed his path in that fateful and decisive year of 1862. I now invite you to join me on a multimedia journey of discovery and revisit the Civil War through the eyes of General Alpheus Williams and his rough duty horse, Plug Ugly.  

     Click here to read a brief biography of Williams.

"From the Canon's Mouth: The Civil War Letters of Alpheus Starkey Williams", (edited by Milo Quaife, Wayne State University Press and the Detroit Historical Society, 1959.) return to text

Photograph courtesy of Bill Schwab with digital alterations by Lowell Boileau.   
This statue of Alpheus Williams was unveiled in 1921 and stands on Belle Isle Park which is located in the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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Created and designed by Lowell Boileau