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Perkins, Selah Gridley
Age: 34, credited to Castleton, VT
Unit(s): 1st VT CAV
Service: comn CPT, Co. H, 1st VT CAV, 10/19/61 (11/1/61), kia, Fisher's Hill, Milford, 9/22/62 [College: UC 47, CMS]
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 11/12/1829, Castleton, VT
Burial: Hillside Cemetery, Castleton, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Carolyn Adams
Findagrave Memorial #: 0
(There may be a Findagrave Memorial, but we have not recorded it)
Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, widow Juliet, 1/5/1863
Portrait?: Gibson Collection
College?: UC 47, CMS Medical
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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Hillside Cemetery, Castleton, VT
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Selah G. Perkins
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF CAPT. Selah Gridley Perkins, M. D.,
By Juliet E. Perkins, M. D. (Read by Mr. A. E. Highley.
Captain Selah Gridley Perkins was born in Castleton, Vt., on November 12, 1829. His father was Dr. Joseph Perkins, and his mother Mary Gridley, daughter of Dr. Selah Gridley and Beulah Langdon. As a child he was remarkable for his fine mental capacity and for his strong memory. When only eight years old he was well advanced in his Latin studies. His education was begun at the old seminary in Castleton and he entered Middlebury College when he was fourteen years old. He left there in the same year and entered Union College in 1844. He was graduated in 1847 with the highest honors and received the Phi Beta Kappa key for scholarship. He came to the Castleton Seminary as instructor in mathematics, Latin and Greek under E. J. Hallock. For two years he filled this place with great success, preparing a large class of young men for college before he was twenty-one years old himself.
While teaching, he became a thorough anatomist and chemist. He was demonstrator of Anatomy under Dr. C. L. Ford in Castleton Medical College for two years, although he had not taken a medical diploma. His object was to prepare himself for the place of professor of Chemistry, for which he was eminently qualified by both his taste and acquirements. About this time he passed the necessary examinations and received the degree of doctor of medicine from the college. He had not intended to practice medicine, but owing to his father's earnest request, he changed his mind- As he felt that he could not be trammeled by any particular school of medicine, he went to Waterford, N. Y., at first, to practice and investigate the different branches of his profession. He staid there for two years and built up a remarkably large and lucrative practice.
Becoming weary of this work for which he always had an aversion, Dr. Perkins went to New York to take charge of a weekly scientific journal. But he found that his ideas of the standard which the paper should have, did not and could not agree with those of some of his associates and he left the journal in six months, going to Boston to engage in active business. His father constantly urged him to come to Castleton to assist him in his medical practice, and finally he left Boston and returned to Castleton. For a year he assisted his father, but desiring more freedom, he started out for himself with remarkable success. His practice was in the best sense eclectic, as Dr. Perkins had thoroughly studied all the different medical systems. He feared to use nothing that would cure disease or relieve suffering. In his own words, he sought only to be a "true physician." He refused professorships in two colleges, one in Philadelphia and another in Brooklyn, N. Y., because he could not be bound to any particular school of medicine. With his address to the Class of 1855 of the Castleton Medical College, he formally renounced all connection with any one system.
In 1861, when the war of the Rebellion broke out, Dr. Perkins felt at once that his place was in the army of the union, for his whole life had been a protest against slavery of every kind. Consequently, in September, of that year he enlisted as a private in the 1st Vermont cavalry. He was elected captain of company H, when the regiment was first organized. His company was raised almost entirely through his own efforts. In December, he left Burlington for the seat of war. His record as an officer was one of dauntless courage and stainless honor. He was of the greatest service through his rapidly acquired knowledge of the topography of the country and through his success in furnishing supplies to the army in and about the Shenandoah valley in Virginia. After the defeat of Banks, Captain Perkins was stationed at Hagarstown, Md. He could have staid there in what to him was ignoble ease, guarding the borders from rebel raids, but he would not do it. He went to Washington and secured by personal solicitation from Mr. Stanton, secretary of war, an order for active service.
In the early part of August, 1862, he passed through the battles before and after Pope's defeat, with many narrow escapes from death. On September 21, while the cavalry were lying at Alexandria, Va., two companies of the 1st Vermont cavalry were ordered to guard the passes of the mountains. Colonel Preston went with companies H. and G. The rebel cavalry were met on the following day at Ashley's Gap, and were driven back. But Colonel Preston and Lieutenant Adams, were severely wounded and Captain Perkins was instantly killed. So died one of the truest of men, and rarest of scholars and one of the bravest soldiers that the Green Mountain State gave to the great struggle for National union and freedom. His body lies in the cemetery on the bluff above the river at Castleton.
Source: John M. Currier, Memorial Exercises held in Castleton, Vermont, in the year 1885, (Joel Munsell's Sons, Albany, 1885), pp. 15-17.
THE CALEDONIAN: OCTOBER 3, 1862
Vt. Captain Killed: Capt. Perkins of the Vt. Cavalry was killed during a reconnaissance at Ashley's Gap, Va. Last week. Captain Perkins was from Castleton, and went as commander of the Rutland Company.
Courtesy of Deanna French.