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
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
Click here to read a brief
biography of Williams.
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
Photograph courtesy of
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.