General Thomas Welsh

Dedicated to expanding scholarship and research about one of the lesser known, rising stars of the Civil War

Civil War General Thomas Welsh remains one of Columbia, PA’s prominent and intriguing historical figures, a rising star in the leadership of Union forces, yet mostly unknown outside of Lancaster County.  He was popularly regarded as a local hero, and although his life was cut short by malaria in 1863, “his brilliant and patriotic career had become a pride and inspiration” to “innumerable friends of the Union cause.”[1]   Had he lived, Welsh would undoubtedly have attained a much higher command.”[2] 


Beers notes in his 1903 biographical profile that, “The affectionate remembrance in which his name is held by his old comrades in arms is undimmed by lengthening years.”[3]  Today, nearly a century and a half after his death, he remains a subject of more-than-casual interest to many Columbians and Pennsylvania historians.  He was featured in Columbia’s Civil War Centennial publication and is profiled on the “Wall of Fame” at Columbia High School.  He is profiled in Distinguished Military Men: Word Portraits of Eight of Columbia's Finest, by Wayne Von Stetten (2006), and was the subject of a recent symposium, Pride of Columbia: The Life and Legacy of Gen. Thomas Welsh.  He has also been included in Columbia’s annual Lantern Tour.  Recognition and pride among Columbians invariably accompany the mention of his name.  Yet (aside from the dabblings of isolated researchers and collectors) little has been known about the dimensions of this intriguing leader. 


The more we learn about him, the more fascinating he becomes — not so much as one of the colorful, larger-than-life, Civil War personalities but as a singularly dedicated and efficient leader, as a paragon of timeless values, and yet as a profoundly human individual who earned the respect of his men the old fashioned way.  The purpose of this site is to explore what is known about General Welsh, and to encourage further research and scholarship.  Historians, researchers, Civil War buffs, and the public are invited to learn about this historic figure and to share any information they may know about him.



[1] Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Chicago: J.H. Beers & C., 1903, V.1, p. 11.

[2] Albert, A. D., Ed., History of the 45th Regiment Pa. V.V.I. 1861-1865, Williamsport: Grit Publ. Co, 1912, p. 79.

[3] Beers, Op. cit.

Click here to see the Proceedings of the recent symposium, Pride of Columbia: The Life and Legacy of Gen. Thomas Welsh