Four Generations of Patriotic Gallantry

2Lt Creswell Garlington

2nd Lt. Creswell Garlington, Jr, DSC, died of wounds, 2 September 1944.

Albert Creswell Garlington was born in Oglethorpe County Georgia in 1822. He was the son of Christopher Garlington and Eliza Aycock Garlington. Garlington graduated from the University of Georgia in 1842 with highest honors and moved to South Carolina where he became a lawyer in 1844. He married Sally Lark Moon in 1846 and moved to her hometown of Newberry in 1848. Garlington served two terms in the South Carolina General Assembly in 1850-1854 and ran for U.S Congress in 1854 but was defeated by Preston Brooks.

The mention of Preston Brooks demands a parenthetical explanation of historical importance. Brooks was the incumbent Congressman, who had been elected in 1852 and served until his untimely death from a viral respiratory infection on January 27, 1857. On May 20, 1856,  U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts made a speech on the Senate Floor, entitled, “Bleeding Kansas,” critical of Southern slavery supporters. In this speech, he particularly  mocked, insulted, and impugned the character of South Carolina’s gifted, beloved, but ailing Senator, Andrew Pickens Butler (1796-1857) and also managed to criticize Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas. Butler and Douglas were co-sponsors of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Sumner had a reputation for self-righteous arrogance  During the course of the speech, Senator Douglas turned to a colleague and said, “This damn fool is going to get himself shot by some other damn fool.”  Congressman Brooks was a first cousin of Senator Butler and considered Sumner to have insulted the honor of his family.

Two days later, May 22, Brooks arrived on the Senate floor and severely beat Senator Sumner with a cane. He was protected by House Members Laurence Keitt (SC), waving a pistol,  and Harry Edmundson (VA) as he administered the beating. This was widely applauded by Southerners who were growing increasingly sensitive to Northern insults. The Northern media and many Northern leaders, however, considered it barbarism. The House fined Brooks $300 but failed to expel him.  

Albert Creswell Garlington served in the South Carolina Senate 1856-1864. He was a Brigadier General of the 10th South Carolina Militia Brigade before the Civil War and continued to serve after the Brigade became part of the Confederate Army on December 19, 1861. He resigned in May 1862, when Governor Pickens appointed him South Carolina Adjutant General and Inspector General in charge of South Carolina Militia. with a rank of Major General. In 1864, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor of South Carolina. However, he also acted as a Brigade Commander opposing Sherman’s march through South Carolina.

Albert Creswell Garlington also served in the South Carolina House in 1865-1867. In 1867, Northern Republicans in Congress passed Reconstruction legislation, which disenfranchised most Confederate veterans from voting or holding office. He died on March 27, 1885, in Newberry, South Carolina and is buried there in Rosemont Cemetery.  Albert Creswell Garlington and Sally Lark Moon had 9 children. One of them was Ernest Albert Garlington, who won the Medal of Honor at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in 1890 and also became a Brigadier General, serving his last years in the Army during World War 1.

We covered much of the Ernest Albert Garlington’s life and career, including issues about the battle and tragic massacre at Wounded Knee in last week’s article, “The Indian Wars and the Medal of Honor.” A brief review and a few points of elaboration are appropriate to this article. Ernest Garlington was born in Newberry, South Carolina, on February 20, 1853. He entered the University of Georgia in Athens in 1869 but left in 1872 to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1876. He was assigned to the 7th Cavalry and arrived there just days after the disastrous wipeout of 5 of 12 companies of Custer’s Cavalry at Little Big Horn in Montana. Promotions were extremely slow at that time, but he was immediately promoted to First Lieutenant and made the regimental adjutant in June 1877.

On December 29, 1890,  the 7th Cavalry had been assigned to surround and disarm a group of about 300 Lakota Sioux on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota  First Lieutenant Ernest Garlington was assigned with ten men to defend a crossroad just beyond a ravine that bordered   the Wounded Knee Camp. The first shots he heard were coming from Lakota Sioux warriors coming from the wooded ravine right at him and his men. The Indians poured a hellish fire on them from just 30 yards. He was apparently one of the first casualties, his arm being shattered by a bullet while returning fire. He would have died from loss of blood had not an experienced medic stopped the bleeding. Remaining conscious but on the ground, he continued to direct his men.  Although three of his men were killed and another two wounded, the small detachment was able to hold their position.

Ernest Garlington was finally given a promised promotion to Captain in December 1891. Following an interview and investigation of his actions at Wounded Knee, he received the Medal of Honor for distinguished gallantry on September 23, 1893. Assigned duty as an inspector general, he was a major by 1895 and quickly moved up the ranks as a high-level staff officer. He served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the Philippine Expedition in 1901. He was made Inspector General of the Army and a Brigadier General in October 1906. He was assigned to observe German Army maneuvers in 1911. He retired finally in September 1917, earning a later awarded World War 1 Victory Medal.  He was the author of four books on military subjects. He died on October 16, 1934,  and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

On June 3, 1887, Ernest Albert Garlington and his wife, Anna Buford Garlington, had a son that would continue the Garlington military legacy. Creswell Garlington, Sr. graduated from West Point in 1910. By May 1918, during World War 1, he was an acting Lieutenant Colonel assigned to the 77th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  He received the nation’s second highest award for combat gallantry, the Disttinguished Service Cross (DSC) for action on September 14, 1918. Here is the Presidential Citation:

"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (General Staff Corps) Creswell Garlington, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with General Staff, 77th Division, A.E.F., near Merval, France, 14 September 1918. In preparation for an attack by units of his division, Lieutenant Colonel Garlington helped establish an advanced observation post. Learning a wounded officer was in front, Lieutenant Colonel Garlington made his way twice through intense fire from artillery and small arms to where the wounded officer lay and assisted in carrying him to safety."

Creswell Garlington, Sr. spent most of his Army career in Engineering assignments. He was promoted to Colonel in February 1939, just before World War 2. He was promoted to Brigadier General on July 19, 1942. He was on sick leave from November 1944 until his death on March 11, 1945. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Creswell Garlington, Sr. and Elise Alexandrine Fitch Garlington had two twin sons who continued the Garlington military legacy. Creswell Garlington, Jr. and Henry Fitch Garlington were born in Paris, France, on February 1,  1922.

 “Cres’ and Henry Garlington were students at the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, when the war broke out. Cres was to be in the class of 1944 and Henry in the class of 1945, but both left to join the Army, Cres was able to get a commission as an infantry platoon leader, and Henry became an Army Air Corp pilot.

Cres Garlington was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the nation’s second highest award for outstanding gallantry in action November 29 to December 1,1944. He died the next day, December 2, in an Army Evacuation  hospital. The action probably occurred near the Wurm River about 12 miles north of Aachen on the Siegfried Line. The Hurtgen Forest and Bastogne where the Battle of the Bulge began on December 16 are about 20 to 70 miles south of Aachen.  The Presidential Citation follows:

"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Creswell Garlington, Jr. (ASN: 0-547375), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as a platoon leader, Company I, 335th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces from 29 November to 1 December 1944. Second Lieutenant Garlington's platoon was temporarily stopped during an attack by the fire of four enemy machine guns approximately three hundred yards away. He crawled forward and with hand grenades eliminating two of the positions while a member of his platoon eliminated the other two. Later the same day, he and one of his men broke up enemy patrols which tried to infiltrate through their lines. On 30 November 1944, during an enemy counterattack, he and four of his men crawled to an advantageous point and killed or wounded sixty of the enemy. On 1 December 1944, Second Lieutenant Garlington carried a wounded member of his platoon through intense enemy artillery fire to a place of safety. While directing the fire of his men, an artillery shell hit approximately ten yards away. While at the aid station he insisted that others less seriously wounded be treated first and tried to show his men the position of a concealed enemy machine gun. Second Lieutenant Garlington's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 84th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.”

Henry Garlington flew 40 combat missions in a P-40 based near Naples, Italy. On June 5, 1944, he was strafing a truck convoy, when he was shot down and captured. Members of the truck convoy took him to tree to hang him, but a German officer intervened. He spent over a year in a Stalag Luft German POW camp. He became a flight instructor after the war. He married Jeanne Hunter Morrell of Savannah, Georgia in 1949. They had two daughters. He retired from the Air Force as a Captain in 1955. He worked for the City of Savannah and the banking industry until finally retiring. He died in February 2019 at the age of 97.

“So all day long the noise of battle rolled

Among the mountains by the winter sea,

Until King Arthur’s Table, man by man,

Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their lord.”


Where shall we look to find their likes again?

When truth requires the courage of gallant men.

When wisdom and virtue must lead against folly.

When duty and honor must be more sacred than glory.


To paraphrase Tennyson via Churchill 1940 in this regard,

“Let every morning bring forth a noble chance,

And every chance bring out a noble knight.”

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