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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Lieut. William Emmet Orr

William Emmet Orr was the son of David Orr, Esq., and was born in the city of Albany, September 12, 1841. His ancestors combined the best, and most vigorous qualities of the Scotch and Irish character; and young Orr partook largely of these elements. In his early childhood he manifested an amiable and lovely disposition, great purity of heart and of life, and was remarkable for his obedience and affection as a son. At the age of sixteen years, during a season of special religious interest, he consecrated himself to the service of his blessed Saviour, and united with the Second Presbyterian Church, of this city, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Dr. Sprague. He entered upon the christian life with high aims, and with just views of the nature and obligations of a public profession of his faith.

He was educated at the excellent school, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Pierson, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was afterwards a student at the Rochester University. His intellectual attainments, combined with his social and benevolent traits of character, rendered him a most agreeable companion; and those who were with him at Fort Reno, and other places where he was stationed, speak of him with fondness and admiration.

He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the One Hundred and Thirteenth N. Y. S. V. (Seventh N. Y. Artillery) on the 7th day of August, 1862, and assigned to Co. B. He served with his company until he was promoted to First Lieutenant in Co. E, in January, 1864. He was detailed as Acting Assistant Adjt. General on the staff of Col. Lewis O. Morris, commanding Second Brigade, Haskins' Division of the Twenty-second Army Corps. He retained his position after the brigade joined the Artillery Division of the Army of the Potomac. He participated in the engagements at River Po, May 19, 1864; at Milford Station, May 21, 1864; and at North Anna River, May 23, 1864. In all these battles his gallantry and efficiency attracted universal attention. One who saw him on the field, when shot and shell were falling thick around him, and his comrades were falling, said that his bravery could not be surpassed. In the thickest of the fight, his calm resolution, and fervid and lofty patriotism never forsook him. He looked not at danger, but at duty. He asked not for a position of ease and safety, but for one where he could best serve his country and honor his God.

After spending a night in the rifle pits with Col. Morris, he retired with others in the morning to the woods to take breakfast, when he was shot by a rebel, who fired from a tree. After receiving the fatal wound, he was borne in a rough conveyance forty miles, to Port Royal. Thence he was transported to Washington city. The last few days of Mr. Orr's life, were days of extreme prostration and suffering. He was attended by his devoted parents, who did all in their power for his relief. But on Thursday morning, June 2d, 1864, at half-past two o'clock, his feet and hands grew cold, his breathing was labored, and in a few moments he bid farewell to his dear friends, his delightful home, his bleeding country, and was attended by the angels of God, to the mansions prepared for him in the heavens, by the Saviour whom he loved.

On the 6th day of June he was buried with military honors, in the Albany Rural Cemetery, a spot peculiarly sacred to us, it being the resting place of so many noble patriots. The funeral was attended by the Governor of the State and his staff, and the body was escorted to the tomb by Company A of the Tenth Regiment.

The following is an extract from a letter written by R. S. Norton, Lieutenant and Acting R. Q. M., Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, near Petersburg, Va., June 30th, 1864: "I cannot close this letter, without referring to the personal character and moral worth of Lieutenant Orr, and the warm feeling of friendship I felt for him during our acquaintance, and particularly from the time we left the defences to the morning he was wounded. During this time, our duties caused us to be together the most of the time; he as A. A. A. G., and I as aid to Col. Morris. In the high opinion I had formed of his excellence of character and soldierly qualities, I found I was not mistaken.

"Perhaps it would interest you to hear the circumstances relating to his receiving his wound, as given by one who was present at the time. On the fatal morning, after being in the rifle pits all night, we went across a field into a piece of woods to take breakfast—Col. Morris, Lieut. Orr and myself. Upon rising from the ground, Lieut. Orr stepped aside a moment, and immediately returned saying he was wounded. The Colonel made a severe remark upon the careless firing of muskets by the men, supposing that it had been done by one of our own men. We all thought so then, but when the ball was extracted it proved to be a rebel bullet. He requested me to tie up his arm in a sling, and after doing so, we helped him on to his horse and took him to the hospital. We did not think it a serious wound at the time, and in answer to my question if it pained him much, he replied that it did not, but his arm felt numb.

"The intelligence of his death was received in the regiment with great surprise and deep sorrow."

The Albany Zouave Cadets passed a series of highly complimentary resolutions in relation to the character and services of our departed hero; and the family of the deceased received the warm sympathy of a large circle of relatives and friends.

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