Pride of Columbia

Pride of Columbia: The Life and Legacy of Gen. Thomas Welsh

Proceedings of a symposium

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sponsored jointly by The Columbia Public Library and the Columbia Historic Preservation Society

Edited by Richard C. Wiggin



Civil War General Thomas Welsh remains one of Columbia (PA)’s prominent and intriguing historical figures.  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, 144 years 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.  More recently, he has been written up in Distinguished Military Men: Word Portraits of Eight of Columbia's Finest, by Wayne Von Stetten (2006), and included in Columbia’s 2007 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 native Columbian. 


Pride of Columbia:  The Life and Legacy of Gen. Thomas Welsh was held Saturday, October 20, 2007, from 1:00 pm — 3:00 pm, in the Conference Room of the Columbia Public Library.  Sponsored jointly by The Columbia Public Library and the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, its purpose was to explore what we know, and to encourage further research and scholarship about General Welsh.  Historians, researchers, Civil War buffs, and the public were invited, both to learn about this historical figure and to share any information they may have had about him.  A standing-room-only audience filled the Conference Room.


This volume is the permanent record of the proceedings of this symposium.  It contains the remarks of each of the speakers, the discussion that followed, and associated supplemental materials.  It has been edited only for clarity.  Source documents are noted and referenced as appropriate.  It is hoped that students of General Welsh will find, herein, both inspiration and substantive information to guide their further investigations.


I wish to thank the speakers, the sponsors, the participants, and all others who contributed to the success of this symposium, and to the furtherance of information and scholarship about General Thomas Welsh.


Richard C. Wiggin

Lincoln, Massachusetts

December 2007



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

[2] Beauge, Eugene, in Albert, Allen D., Ed., History of the Forty-Fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865, Williamsport, PA: Grit Publ. Co, 1912, p. 79.

[3] Beers, Op. cit.

Program & Contents:

From the Handout 

Opening Remarks  by Rick Wiggin

Portrait of a River City: Columbia in the Decade leading up to the Civil War  by Jack Loose      

Profile of a Historic Figure: Answers and Questions about Thomas Welsh  by Rick Wiggin                   

Welsh’s Last Campaign: The Untimely Death of a Rising Star  by Rick Abel

The Welsh Legacy: General, Husband & Father  by Wayne Von Stetten

Questions & Discussion




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