A Civil War Biography

Montgomery Dent Corse

Corse was born 14 March 1816 in Alexandria, Virginia. After receiving his educated at local schools, Major Bradley Lowe's military school and Benjamin Hallowell's school, Corse went into business with his father. During the was with Mexico he served as captain of Company B of the 1st regiment, Virginia volunteers. In 1849 he headed for the California gold fields. While in California he served as captain of the Sutter Rifles, a Sacramento based militia unit. He returned to Alexandria in December 1856 and formed a partnership with his brothers in the banking business. He served as 1st lieutenant of the Alexandria Home Guard in 1859 and in 1860 he helped organize the Old Dominion Rifles, a battalion that included the Alexandria Guard. He was elected captain of the Old Dominion Rifles on 7 January 1861.

After the war began and Virginia seceded Corse was commissioned a major and served as assistant adjutant general in Alexandria until the city was evacuated. The battalion became part of the 17th Virginia regiment with Corse eventually becoming the regiment's colonel. He commanded the 17th at Blackburn's Ford, 1st Manassas, and during the peninsula campaign. He commanded a brigade at 2nd Manassas where he was slightly wounded. He was wounded again at Boonsboro during the fighting at South Mountain. He was severely wounded at Sharpsburg and for a time lay inside Union lines. Corse was promoted to brigadier general on 1 November 1862 and commanded a brigade in George Pickett's division at Fredericksburg. Shortly there after Corse's brigade was sent to the Blackwater River area southeast of Petersburg, Virginia and was still on detached duty when the rest of Pickett's division fought at Chancellorsville and made their famous charge at Gettysburg. The brigade, attached to James Longstreet's corps saw action at Chickamauga then was recalled to Petersburg. Corse and his brigade were next sent to North Carolina to participate in action to retake New Burne. The brigade then returned to the Petersburg lines where Corse was wounded for a fourth time. He returned to duty in time to see action at Dinwiddie Court House and Five Forks. At Saylor's Creek, Corse and about 8000 other Confederates, including many generals, were captured. Corse was confined at Fort Warren in Boston, Massachusetts until 24 July 1865. He, along with 14 other captured generals, were nearly set upon by a mob, as they passed through a town in Pennsylvania on the way to Boston, the day after President Lincoln was assassinated.

After his release from Fort Warren, Corse returned to Alexandria and went into business with his two brothers. Corse was a charter member of the RE Lee Camp of the United Confederate Veterans. On 24 May 1880, Corse, along with Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee and former Confederate Lieutenant General Joseph E Johnston, dedicated the Confederate monument at Washington and Prince streets in Alexandria. There is speculation that an injury, when part of the capital at Richmond fell, caused Corse to lose most of his eyesight. He died 11 February 1895 in Alexandria after a short illness.

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