Suicide of Lt. C. E. Earle,* Co. B, 4th South Carolina Infantry

15 09 2020

LOCAL MATTERS.

Suicide. – Lieut. C. E. Earle, of the Palmetto Guard, of Col. Sloan’s 4th Regiment of South Carolina volunteers, killed himself instantly yesterday evening, about 4 o’clock, by jumping from the eastern 6th-story window of the Ballard House, fronting on Franklin Street. Lieut. Earl fell a distance of about 0ne hundred and ten feet to the pavement below, breaking his skull in several places, also his arm and legs. After the first alarm was over the body was removed to a room in the lower part of the building, and the Coroner (Dr. Peachy) notified to hold an inquest. There seems to be no doubt that the act was committed in a fit of temporary insanity. The reporter learned from Mr. Powers, clerk of the hotel, that he arrived there last Friday night, and, after a sojourn of a day or two, complained of indisposition, whereupon Dr. Pollard was called in to attend him. The latter yesterday left word for his patient to be watched, as he feared some attempt on his life from his appearance and bearing. No particular attention was paid to the doctor’s suggestion, it being, no doubt, deemed an evidence of sanity that he prior thereto had called and ordered both the tavern and medical bill to be drawn off, as he intended leaving on yesterday. Nothing more was thought of the matter till the suicide was an accomplished fact. It was rumored that a negro was in the room whom Earle jerked away from when he made the leap from the window. It was also said that insanity was a hereditary disease in his family. Prior to committing the rash act the deceased penned a letter directing what disposition he wished made of his property. This letter was read by Mr. Ballard. The relatives of the deceased, who are highly respectable people, were notified by telegraph of the unfortunate occurrence, and will, no doubt, soon be here to remove the body to its native soil.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/8/1861

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* Possibly Claudius Eugene Earle. Located a gravesite of Claudius Eugene Earle with birth and death date of 1835. and a reference to Claudius Eugene Earl born 1835 died July 7, 1861 in Richmond (date could be incorrect, as the article above indicates C. E. Earle died 8/7/1861)

Earle is mentioned in Col. Sloan’s after action report as being in command of Co. B during the battle.

C. E. Earle at Ancestry.com

C. E. Earle at Fold3


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3 responses

15 09 2020
Theodore P. Savas

Did his regiment see hard action? Lose a brother? PTSD? Something triggered the suicide.

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15 09 2020
Harry Smeltzer

Ted,

Yes, the 4th saw action at the opening of the battle on Matthews Hill (while some companies stayed at Stone Bridge to significant effect), and was pushed back and, according to at least one of the letter writers, hooked up with the 4th Alabama again on Henry Hill.

What caused him to snap? I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever know. Unless maybe a family member is following.

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15 09 2020
Harry Smeltzer

Earle is mentioned in Col. Sloan’s report.

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