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Avery Erwin Harlan Johnson

Obituary of Henry Clay Erwin, Georgia.

Henry Clay Erwin, patriot, soldier, and Christian gentleman, entered the higher life of February 11, 1915, ripe in man's allotted years and also in those virtues that form and transform character. Excelling in many traits, he stood aloft like some lone tree in a forest, commanding reverence, yet offering beneath its wide arms hospitality and protection. The spirit of the mountains among which he lived seemed to abide in his sturdy integrity and pure faith. His parents moved from North Carolina in the thirties and settled near Fair Mountain, Ga., at the time of the Cherokee exodus from their laughing waters and hapy valleys to the plains of the far West. There on October 12, 1844, this son was born. As his mountains glowed in answer to the touch of the rising sun, our soldier boy, with the ardent chivalry of his Scotch and English ancestry, responded to his country's call. In 1862, while a student at Marietta Military Academy, at the early age of eighteen he enlisted at Kingston, Ga., joining Company E, under Capt. Jeff Johnson, in the 4th Georgia Cavalry, commanded by Col. I. W. Avery, which won and sustained distinction and honor until the war ended.

Henry Erwin was made first lieutenant, but from necessity led his company in all its important engagements. He followed the fates of war from his first battle at Chickamauga through Tennessee and all along the W. and A. Railroad in North Georgia. During the first day of the battle of Resaca, May 14, 1864, he was wounded in a skirmish at Tanner's Ferry, three miles south of Resaca and west of Calhoun. On his way home on furlough he was captured by a part of Stoneman's Cavalry, but escaped prison by the humane decision of the surgeon in charge, who pronounced his wound too serious for long travel. Learning that he had an aunt at Gainesville, not far away, he was sent to her good care. There the released prisoner soon recovered and, despite the remonstrance of friends and surgeons, determined to rejoin his company in Middle Tennessee during the invasion of Longstreet.

Unwilling to pass his loved home en route without making a visit, he concealed his horse some distance from the house and soon joined his family, whose joy was lost in wonder over the miracle of his entrance and doubt of the chance of his escape; for the enemy had surrounded the place on a looting expedition. Trusting his fate to the God who never sleeps, he rested until early morn. In taking his departure he hid himself in the tall weeds between the yard and orchard, but was soon alarmed by the clamor of pursued chickens and the running of the hungry Yankees in every direction. Just here a Southern woman's sagacity, tact, or intuitive protection of her offspring served its purpose well. Quickly pulling from concealment a coop of fine fryers, Mrs. Erwin called the willing pursuers around her and slowly gave each a chicken, while her son made good his escape.

Regaining his company, Lieutenant Erwin continued to hold the esteem and trust of all who knew him, demonstrating his intrepid courage and convictions of right unto the finish and through later years in every phase of his long, good life of Christian soldiership. Returnong to farm life in 1865, he soon saved the means to finish his education at Emory and Henry College, in Virginia, and in six years was happily married to Miss Mary Adelia Harlan, the eldest daughter of Hon. James M. Harlan, whise graces of Christian womanhood live anew in her fine children, together with the sterling qualities of him whose memory we delight to honor.

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, August, 1916.

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