Colonel James Fowler Pressley, CSA    Colonel James Fowler Pressley, M. D.--A Hero Remembered 10th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Battle Flag   
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Obituary and Remembrance

A warm summer breeze stirs the leaves of the spreading oak shading the final California resting place of the Pressleys in the Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery.

Only the street noises of this sprawling city just off the I-80 freeway disturb the peace of this beautiful place, populated by both Union and Confederate soldiers and their families.

James F. Pressley was borne to this spot on February 15, 1878, two days after his death in San Francisco. He left behind his beloved wife, four year old son, James, Jr., and his two year old daughter, Louis, my own beloved "Aunt Lou," who was left to grow up with no memory of her noted father.

    Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery

   

   
Weekly Solano Reporter
February 14, 1878

Jas. F. Pressley, MD.

Deceased was a victim of that scourge, consumption [tuberculosis]. Notwithstanding he was a man with a delicate organism, he was so devoted to his profession, so scrupulously conscientious in the discharge of his duties, prompted by enlarged sympathies, that he did not hesitate to expose himself to our bleak winds, which gradually wore away his vigor, and finally contracted the loathsome disease of which he died.

He was a victim of a noble pride for his profession and sympathy for suffering humanity After the repeated solicitation of his friends, he was persuaded to retire from his extensive and lucrative practice in Suisun

In November, 1876, he sold his interests here and gave up his practice and went to San Jose, there to live in quietude and receive all the benefits of that gentle climate. His death will be generally and sincerely mourned by his community. He was a faithful member of the Odd Follows Lodge of this place, by which order he will be buried tomorrow. He leaves a wife and two children, besides other relatives in the county to mourn his death.

   

   

tombstone of James F. Pressley, M. D.

The original gravestone seen here bore no information regarding Pressley's service in the Confederate States of America. That was to change on May 19, 2001, when the small bronze plaque, seen at the bottom, was added, proclaiming him "Colonel CSA, 10/19th S C Inf."
 

   

   
Honoring heritage and history
By Tim Fields
FAIRFIELD - As each is remembered, they all are honored.

From speeches to rifle volleys, members of two local confederacy memorial groups gathered Saturday to remember two Civil War veterans buried in the Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery. Under the shade of trees, petite, red flowers covered the tombstones of Col. Columbus Palestine Reeves and Col. James F. Pressley. Taps filled the silent graveyard with song.

"Our purpose is to honor our ancestors and to try to retain our history as it was," said Yvonne Young Miller, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Fairfield-Suisun chapter. The chapter was formed in 1992.

Miller's grandfather, James David Young, was a private in the South's army and died in the battle of Shiloh in 1862. Both of the veterans honored Saturday were remarkable men with remarkable lives, Miller said.

Reeves, born in 1830, was a scholar, businessman and solider. He was son of a minister and classmate of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. He joined the Confederate army as an aide-de-camp to a general but was taken prisoner in the battle of Springfield. Once released he settled in Suisun City and helped build the emerging city.

Pressley graduated medical school in 1858 and joined the 10th South Carolina Infantry. He soon was promoted to colonel and led his troops in many battles from 1862 to 1864. When a bullet shattered his left shoulder in the Battle of Atlanta, he went into politics and was elected to the state legislature in 1864. A year later he led a militia to defend towns against bands of robbers and Union forces that attacked and looted across South Carolina. After the war he moved to Suisun City in 1869 to continue his medical practice and in 1878 he died in San Francisco while receiving treatment for ill health.

Saturday, standing over the grave stone, was the colonel's grand nephew, Neil Hamilton of Rio Vista. Family history is something people all should be interested in because it tells where they came from, Hamilton said.

Charles Christian, a historian at the event, wished he were related to the gallant Pressley, he said. Christian is a tour guide at Old Rural Cemetery in Santa Rosa and is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans. All Civil War veterans deserve recognition and honor, he said.

The war tore a family from Kentucky right down the middle, said Louis Olker standing close Pressley's weather-worn gravestone.

"I'm like an S.O.B., a son of both the North and South," he said tipping his hat and holding his rifle.

Olker and two others from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans in Sacramento sported confederate uniforms and weapons to honor the two veterans. Confederate soldiers were part of a crucial time in American history and unfortunately many have been forgotten, he said.

"It's important to locate Confederate veterans' graves because they contributed so much to our country," said Ann Miller, a United Daughters of the Confederacy member. The UDC has recognized two other Confederate soldiers graves in Yountville and in Napa, she said. There are two more Confederate veterans in the Suisun-Fairfield cemetery and will be honored next spring, Miller said.

To Luverne Harstine, remembering Confederate veterans means remembering her grandfather.

Harstine's grandfather, Charles Hanger, served in the Southern forces from 1861 to 1865 and spent some time in prisoner of war camp. Union soldiers captured him after shooting him in the knee, she said.

Her grandfather said many times if it weren't for the injury he would've outrun those Yankees, she said.

   

   

 

Confederate States of America Plaque

 
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