Peter Alexander Selkirk McGlashan


Peter Alexander Selkirk McGlashan was born on May 19, 1830, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of James and Mary (Selkirk) McGlashan. His father, an Edinburgh merchant, had fought in the British army at the Battle of Waterloo. Immigrating to the United States in 1848, the younger McGlashan settled in Savannah and then in Thomasville, Georgia. He worked as a saddle maker but, having a restless disposition, traveled to California to pan for gold. In the 1850s he joined the American filibusterers who were fighting in Central America.

In August, 1861, McGlashan enlisted as a private in the 29th Georgia Infantry. The regiment remained in Georgia that fall and winter, helping to guard the coast. In March, 1862, he was elected first lieutenant of Company E of the 50th Georgia, a newly raised infantry regiment. The 50th joined the Army of Northern Virginia that summer, after the Seven Days' Battles and became part of a brigade of Georgia regiments commanded successively by Brigadier Generals Paul Semmes, Goode Bryan, and James Simms. McGlashan was promoted to captain and, after the Battle of Gettysburg, to colonel of the 50th. He led the 50th in the Chickamauga and east Tennessee campaigns of 1863, the Wilderness and Shenandoah Valley campaigns of 1864, and in the 1864 to 1865 siege of Petersburg. McGlashan won repeated praise from his superiors for his leadership, being especially commended "for the skillful manner" in which he captured the Union skirmish line at the June 26, 1864, Battle of Fussell's Mill. At the Battle of Cedar Creek that October McGlashan was severely wounded through both thighs. On several occasions in 1864 and 1865 he led, as senior colonel, Bryan's brigade, although when Bryan was invalided out of the army the senior colonel, James Simms, was given command of the brigade and eventual promotion to brigadier general. At the Battle of Sayler's Creek on April 6, 1865, both Simms and McGlashan were captured. McGlashan was not released from prison until that August.

After the war he returned to Thomasville to run a saddle and harness shop in that city. A popular citizen, he was elected mayor of Thomasville and took a lead role in Confederate veteran affairs. In 1885 he moved to Savannah and engaged in the harness business there. Late in life he held a position in the office of the Savannah city plumbing inspector. On June 13, 1908, McGlashan died of a heart attack suffered while swimming. He is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.

CMH and Lonn both list McGlashan as a general. The former says he was promoted in March, 1865, to command Bryan's brigade. The latter says his was the last commission signed by President Davis before Davis left Richmond, but that McGlashan never received it. No evidence of this last-minute appointment exists, and there was no vacancy in command in Bryan's brigade to which he could have been promoted. McGlashan was a general in the United Confederate Veterans; perhaps the confusion arose because of his UCV rank.

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Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.