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Biography - Albert Gwyn

ALBERT F. GWYN. Our subject is a prominent merchant of Sorento, and to him belongs the credit of starting the first store in the town. He is a native of Bond County, and was born not far from his present place of residence, March 5, 1842, being next to the eldest in a family of five children, comprising three sons and two daughters, that were born to Alexander and Cinderella (McCaslin) Gwyn. Of this family there are but two now living, our subject and his eldest brother, William T., who resides at Peru, Kan.

Alexander Gwyn was born in Maur County, Tenn., in 1809. His father, whose name was also Alexander, was born in the same place in 1785. Mrs. Alexander Gwyn was a native of Princeton, Ky., and she and her husband came to the Prairie' State about 1830, and located in Bond County, where Mr. Gwyn died in 1851. The original of this sketch was reared on a farm and received a fair education. On the breaking out of the Civil War he enlisted in the service of his country as a private in Company I, of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, joining his company October 2, 1861.

It would be a long and tedious tale to attempt to follow Mr. Gwyn minutely through his more than four years of brilliant service. We will, however, give the more important events that transpired. He was in the forty-eight days' siege at Port Hudson and his regiment was the first to enter Port Hudson. He then campaigned through Alabama, Middle and Western Tennessee, and fought Hood at Florence, Ala.; he was in the battle of Nashville, and also in that hottest of battles Franklin; and was on the memorable Grierson Raid, which stationed at LaGrange a detachment of one hundred and twenty-five detailed men, of whom our subject was one. They were sent in advance to locate the enemy, and after riding all day through the mud and rain, worn out, wet and hungry, they wrapped themselves in their blankets, and on March 29, 1863, laid down on the cold, wet ground to rest. While sleeping they were surprised by a murderous band of rebels, who outnumbered them three to one. As their deadly fire was poured upon the sleeping soldiers, the latter sprang to their feet, and, though it would have been the natural impulse under such circumstances to turn and run, they held their ground, and after a desperate fight completely defeated the enemy.

We give herewith the order issued by the Commanding General on this occasion, and which fully explains itself:

Headquarters First Division,
Sixteenth Army Corps,
LAGRANGE, TENN., April 2, 1863.

"General Order No. 46, by direction of Maj. Gen. S. A. Hurlbut, commanding Sixteenth Army Corps:

"The General commanding the First Division returns thanks to the cavalry which, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Loomis, of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, so gallantly repulsed an attack made upon them at midnight, by a rebel force outnumbering them threefold, near Belmont, Tenn., on the 29th of March, 1863. By such determined fighting glory is won, and we cannot think-of our brave men springing from their slumber, aroused by a murderous volley, and rushing upon the foe and routing him, without a thrill of pride. Well does our country merit such glorious service, and may all our troops loyally render it wherever opportunity may be afforded. It is hereby ordered that a copy of this order be addressed to each commissioned and non-commissioned officer and private who participated in the affair referred to, as evidence of his bravery and good conduct.

"By command of Brig.-Gen. William Soule Smith, commanding First Division.

"To Private Alfred F. Gwyn, Company I, of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry."

In fact, it has been stated, in an order issued by the commanding officer, that this cavalry accomplished feats that were not thought possible for cavalry to do; that they never attacked a fort they did not take, and never defended a line they did not hold. For more than a year our subject never had a tent or other shelter. He endured such privations for more than four years that his country might be saved. He was finally discharged, November 24, 1865.

Mr. Gwyn was married in 1864, while home on his veteran's furlough, his bride being Miss Lydia A. Curlee. From this union two children have been born: Nellie, the wife of W. D. Wirt, who is Mr. Gwyn's partner in business; and Jessie, a young lady who is now completing her education. The subject of this sketch resumed his farming operations after returning from the war, and continued to be thus employed until 1871, at which time he turned his attention to the mercantile business, and located at Elm Point, where he remained for six years. The succeeding five years, or from 1876 to 1882, he was in business at Hillsboro. In 1882, when the town of Sorento was being laid out, he was the first on the ground. He built the first building and sold the first goods from the place, and also was the first Postmaster. He has ever been an ardent Republican, and is a member in high standing of the Grand Army of the Republic. Fraternally, he is a member of the Modern Woodmen. At the present time of writing (1892) Mr. Gwyn is completing the finest residence in Sorento. Here he expects to pass the evening of life surrounded by his family.

Extracted 20 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 339-341.

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