Thursday, September 2, 2010

Samuel Batson Hearn - the Delmar Confederate

Samuel Batson Hearn was the son of Kendal and Elizabeth Hearn. He was born in 1841 on the Hearn homestead which was located between what would become Delmar and the area that would become known as "Bacon Switch." Samuel grew up as every other boy did in southern Delaware - with strong feelings that individual states had their rights and the Federal Government should stay out of the issues of those rights. As things grew hotter between the states, Civil War broke out. On August 19th of 1862 he backed those convictions with action and left his family and Delaware to join the Confederate forces in Richmond. On August 30th 1862 he was with the First Battalion of Maryland Cavalry. From Richmond he went to a training camp in Charlottesville. After training camp he was with the Army of Northern Virginia and was stationed in the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester.

It is related that in Samuel's first engagement in battle he shot his first Union soldier. However, not wishing to see him die, he rushed to the now wounded man to give him assistance. In gratitude for this help, the soldier gave to Sam his pocket watch! He followed Captain Emack of the First Maryland Cavalry into battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania led by General Robert E. Lee. Surviving that he fought again at North Mountain, Brandy Station and Second Manassas.

It wasn't until February of 1864 that Samuel was allowed to go home for leave. He and Braxton Lyons returned to the Eastern Shore for ten days. His father was less than pleased about his joining the Confederate forces and his mother had to hide him in a blanket chest until she could convince him to see his son again.

As Braxton Lyons, John R. H. Embert, and Samuel Hearn were recrossing the Chesapeake Bay after their leave was up they were captured by Union forces at the mouth of Hollin's Straits and were tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged as spies.

It was by way of intervention by the Gittings family to President Lincoln that Lincoln granted a pardon to the three men on August 29, 1864.

The Adjutant General, E. D. Townsend, on August 31, issued this order:

"The sentence to be hanged by a military commission, promulgated in General Order N. O. 61 Headquarters Middle Department 8th Army Corps, Baltimore, Md. August 8, 1864, in the case of Samuel P. (B.) Hearn, Braxton Lyon, and John R. H. Embert, citizens-- is commuted by the President of the United States to confinement at hard labor in the Penitentiary during the war. The Penitentiary at Albany, N.Y. is designated as the place of confinement to which the prisoners will be sent under suitable guard by order from this department commander and delivered to the warden for execution of their sentence."

For some unexplained reason, there was no promulgation of President Lincoln's commutation of Embert's, Lyon's, and Hearn's sentence before the men were marched to the gallows at the hour designated for their execution. Then they were show the boxes prepared for their burial, and the reprieve was for the first time read to them.

The three prisoners were transferred to the Albany Penitentiary was notified by the commissioner general of prisoners to send them to Fort Monroe for exchange. Their parole followed, and on July 12, Adjutant General Townsend announced in General Orders the remission of their sentence and immediate discharge upon taking of the oath of allegiance.

The prisoners were exchanged for Union prisoners and Samuel tried to join up with General Lee again only to find Lee had surrendered. Hearn was discharge in Richmond.

Samuel Hearn stayed in Virginia after the "War." He married Miss Mary Virginia Gibbs, daughter of Charles E. and Elizabeth Gibbs, on December 21st, 1869 at Port Royal Virginia. When his father died the inheritance allowed him to buy a farm that was located between Port Royal and Bowling Green, Virginia.

His name was added to the Delaware Confederate Monument in Georgetown Delaware on May 12, 2007.


  1. good review. I have the trial proceedings with questions and answers by Samuel B Hearn.