Thomas Postell Pelot [#106]


The following is the section in the Pelot Family Genealogy on Thomas Postell Pelot on page 111.

· Last Updated 2 April 2000 ·


106.  THOMAS POSTELL5 PELOT (Charles Moore4, Charles3, John Francis2, Jonas1) was born 28 (or 29) June 1835.  He was killed in action 4 June 1864 during the Civil War and was buried in Lot 778, Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia.[1]  He married CLARA THERESA FREEMAN of Beaufort, South Carolina, who was buried at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston.


Thomas followed in the footsteps of his uncle John Francis Pelot and became a midshipman in the United States Navy, entering in 1849.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, receiving his commission as Lieutenant in 1857.  In 1861, at the outbreak of hostilities, he resigned his commission to become an officer in the Confederate Navy.[2]


In 1862, by order of the Secretary of the Confederate Navy, Lieutenant-Commanding Thomas P. Pelot was ordered to take command of the Confederate Steamer Savannah. In 1864 the Confederate Navy planned an expedition from Savannah to capture one of the Union ships blockading the Georgia coast.  Lieutenant-Commanding Thomas P. Pelot was placed in charge of the seven vessels that undertook the daring mission.  An eye-witness account, quoted in part, tells the dramatic story:[3]


On the next day (June 2), at 9 o'clock p.m., we got under way and proceeded to Racoon Keys, where we took on board our scouts, who reported that one of the enemy's vessels was lying in Ossabaw Sound, about three miles from where we were.  After watching them until midnight, we were ordered to get underway and pull cautiously.  The night being dark and rainy, we got close aboard of her without being discovered.  On being hailed, Lieut. Pelot answered we were "rebels" and gave the order to "board her" ...  The vessel having steamed up at the time, as soon as the alarm was given, commenced turning her wheels backwards, and forward rapidly, thus thwarting [the] effort ...  to get on board with the entire boats'[sic] crew.


The port column, led by Lieut. Pelot, boarded on the port side, the starboard column, led by Lieut. Price, boarded on the starboard side.  In coming alongside, the enemy's fire with small arms was quite severe...  After a sharp hand-to-hand fight of some minutes, the ship was taken.  Lieut. Pelot was the first to gain the deck, and while bravely fighting was shot and instantly killed.  In his death the country lost a brave and gallant officer, and society one of her brightest ornaments.


The vessel captured was the steamer Water-Witch of 378 tons.  There was much rejoicing in Savannah, but also grief over the loss of the brave leader. A memorial to South Carolina Naval Heroes in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina honors Lieutenant. Thomas Postell Pelot, killed in action June 4 1864 boarding Union ship.




i.                     Marion Cecilia [#330], b. c.1855, bur. Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston.

ii.                   Rosa Augusta [#331], b. c.1857, bur. Magnolia Cemetery.

iii.                  Clara [#332], b. c. 1859, bur. Magnolia Cemetery.

iv.                 Samuel [#333], b. c.1861.

v.                   Lalla Theresa [#334], b. 10 April 1864, Norfolk, Virginia m. at Brooklyn, New York,  24 March 1885, Martin Adams.  They lived at Westfield, New Jersey.[4]  Issue.


Index Entries:



Martin (b. 1864?), 2

Confederate Steamer, Savannah, 1


Adelbert M., 2

Real Admiral George, 2


Clara Theresa, 1


Thomas H. S., 1


Clara 1(b., 2

Clara Theresa (Freeman) (b. 1835?), 1

Lalla Theresa (b. 1864), 2

Marion Cecilia (b., 2

Rosa Augusta (b., 2

Samuel 1(b., 2

Thomas Postell (b. 1835), 1


Lieutenant, 2

Ship, Water-Witch, 2


Charles P. (General) (b. 1867), 1

Union Steamer, Water-Witch, 2

Water-Witch, 2


[1] Laurel Grove Cemetery Records, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.


[2] Thomas H. S. Hamersly, General Register of the United States Navy and Marine Corps … 1782-1882… including Volunteer Officers, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 1882, p. 249.


[3] His nephew, General Charles P. Summerall, called special attention to his accomplishment, and an account of his life appears in the 30 May 1954 issue of the South Carolina State Magazine. His exploit is described in detail in “The Capture of the Water Witch,” Georgia Historical Magazine 3:11-27 (1919).

[4] Adelbert M. Dewey, Life of George Dewey, Real Admiral, U.S.N. and Dewey Family History (Westfield, Massachusetts, 1898), p. 959.