Lt. Col. Julius Garesché lost his life in the battle of Stones River and is buried in Olivet Cemetery near Ann Eliza Hegeman Rosecrans, the wife of General W. S. Rosecrans

Lt.-Col. Julius P. Garesché
by David Moore

A small sign on the Stones River battlefield marks the place where the life of one of the most unique personalities of the Civil War abruptly ended . Julius P. Garesche was born in Cuba of French ancestry and raised in Delaware. He enrolled in Georgetown college and there underwent a religious transformation. A downturn in his family’s financial situation caused him to withdraw from Georgetown and apply to West Point where he graduated in 1841. While at the Academy he became friends with William Rosecrans who graduated the following year.

After serving at military posts around the country and Mexico Garesche came to Washington in 1856. He attended the new St. Aloysius church on what was then the northern edge of the city. When war broke out churches throughout the city were requisitioned for hospitals. There was a reluctance on the part of the parishioners of what was the newest and largest church in the city to see it ruined even for such a worthy cause. Garesche led a group that offered to build an alternative space in exchange for sparing St. Aloysius. Within eight days a 250 bed hospital was erected on K street.

Garesche’s beliefs extended beyond good works to mysticism. He read daily from Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ in Latin. He had premonitions of an early death and his brother, a priest, told him that he would die in his first battle. Garesche, who served in the Adjutant General’s office, was nowhere near a battlefield until his old friend Rosecrans called him west to be his chief of staff. 

As the surprised Army of the Cumberland fought for survival on December 31 Garesche was by the side of his friend as he rallied the army.  Suddenly a cannonball hit Garesche behind his right ear decapitating him. His body was brought
to Washington for burial in Mt. Olivet cemetery.

Garesche is one of the many honored on the Battle Monument at West Point Military Academy.

Battery Garesche, commemorated by an historical maker in what is now the Fairlington section of Arlington, Virginia, was named for him. 
- - - Used by permission of the author

Photos taken by David Moore December 25, 2010


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