Marvin Emory AVERY 1840-1864

a biography

Marvin Emory AVERY , b. 16 Jun 1840, was the 6th child of John AVERY and Sarah Ann COOPER. He and his father were descendants of Captain James AVERY, founder of the Groton Avery Clan. Sgt Marvin Emory AVERY died at the battle of Trevillion Station, between Richmond and Charlottesville Virginia, on 12 Jun 1864 just 4 days before his 24th birthday.

Very little is known about his years before the Civil War. In the 1860 census, he is in the household of his father and working on his fathers farm. At some point, he enlisted in Company E, 6th Michigan Cavalry under then Colonel James Harvey KIDD who, in turn, reported to General Custer. The following is an excerpt from Col Kidds book. It is notable that Kidd writes that Sgt Marvin Emory AVERY would have received a field commission had he lived; the commission was probably in the works at the time of Averys death.

 One day a party of sixteen men came into camp and applied for enlistment. A condition of the contract under which they were secured for my troop was that one of their number be appointed sergeant. They were to name the man and the choice, made by ballot, fell upon Marvin E. Avery. At first blush, he was not a promising candidate for a non-commissioned office. Somewhat ungainly in figure, awkward in manners, and immature in mind and body, he appeared to be; while he seemed neither ambitious to excel nor quick to learn. He certainly did not evince a craving for preferment. In the end it was found that these were surface indications, and that there were inherent in him a strength of character and a robust manliness that only awaited the opportunity to assert themselves. He was appointed sergeant but, at first, manifested so little aptitude for the work, that it was feared he would never become proficient in his duties, or acquire a sufficient familiarity with tactics to drill a squad. No one could have been more willing, obedient, or anxious to learn. He was a plodder who worked his way along by sheer force of will and innate self-reliance, and governed in all that he did by a high sense of duty. He never attained first rank as a sergeant while in camp, but in the field, he sprang to the front like a thorough-bred. From the moment when he first scented battle, he was the most valuable man in the troop, from the captain down. In this, I am sure, there is no disparagement of the scores of fearless soldiers who followed the guidon of that troop from Gettysburg to Appomattox. Avery was a hero. In the presence of danger he knew no fear. The more imminent the peril, the more cool he was. He would grasp the situation as if by intuition and I often wondered why fate did not make him colonel instead of myself, and honestly believe that he would have filled the position admirably, though he reached no higher rank than that of sergeant. He had, however, made of himself the trusted assistant and adviser of the commanding officer of his regiment and would have received a commission, had he lived but a few days longer. From the day of his enlistment to the day of his death he was not off duty for a single day; and the command to which he belonged, was in no battle when he was not at the front, in the place of greatest risk and responsibility, from the beginning to the end. He was killed by a shell which struck him in the head, in the battle of Trevillian Station, June 12, 1864. A braver or a truer soldier never fell on the field of battle. Source: Personal Recollections of a Cavalry Man with Custers Michigan Calvary Brigade during the Civil War, James Harvey Kidd, Sentinel Printing Co, 1908, pg 63-64

At the time of Marvin Emory Averys death, his father, John Avery, had driven wagons to join the regiment, as a civilian, and help supply them from his own funds. John Avery took his son's body back to Michigan for burial.

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