I’ve been seeing postings lately, mostly on Face Book, about the last four surviving children of Civil War veterans (actually, it focused on the last four just in Virginia alone… and I didn’t seem to catch that last part), and I added to each that I thought they were missing somebody.
I’m sorry to say… I was wrong.
Albert Lee Comer, Sr., the youngest son of James John Comer, Co. H (Page Grays), 33rd Virginia Infantry, died this past December (see here and here). I may be wrong, but I believe Albert Comer may well have been the last surviving child of any member of the Stonewall Brigade.
Indeed, I knew Albert Comer and was present at the rededication (2006, if I remember correctly) of his father’s grave. He didn’t come across as boastful of the fact that he was a “real son”, nor was he a “staunch defender of heritage”. Rather, he was, in my view, a pleasant, quiet man who was simply at the center of recognition… yet seemed appreciative of the recognition for his father, who died when he was very young (9). In fact, there were just a few war-related stories that he recalled being told by his father. I vaguely remember one of them myself. Something about helping to carry a casket when a bullet passed through it… I believe.
But, my interaction with Mr. Comer began before the rededication. It was sometime in the early 2000s, while writing my weekly history column for the Page News & Courier (which I assume prompted the mysterious mailing), I received an envelope… with no return address… in which were two small pieces of delicate paper… which were, in fact, two pages from James J. Comer’s diary. I had no idea who sent these to me, but I took good care of them until I learned that Albert Comer was James J. Comer’s son. It seemed only proper that these pages go to Mr. Comer, and I sent them to him. I’m sure they remain a cherished part of his family’s history.
By a roundabout way, Mr. Comer and I are also related. His older sister, Bessie (1877-1968), was my great-great grandfather’s fifth… and last… wife. Bessie was nearly thirty-three years younger than Charles Robert Hilliard… who, like Bessie’s father… was also a Confederate veteran. I’ve heard that Bessie also caused my great-great grandfather a great deal of frustration when it came time to receiving his Confederate pension check. Whether it happened frequently, or a few times, Bessie often went to town with his check before he even knew it had arrived… which prompted him to the mountains for a while in order to cool his temper. Anyway, as she died when I was only three, I never knew Bessie… but knew of the story.
I regret to say that it’s been at least five years or so since we last corresponded, but I enjoyed my interactions with Mr. Comer, and wish we had a chance to chat one last time before he passed.
Until we meet again, Mr. Comer.