A CIVIL WAR VET WITH A GAT
George Camp was not the only Civil War veteran to be arrested for illegally discharging a firearm in Seattle, but he was the only one to have a cartoon made about it.
In January 1914, a former Union army soldier, George Lowe Camp, was overtaken by what Seattle newspaper described as a “warlike spirit” that ended in gunfire, a fatality, and ultimately Mr. Camp’s arrest. The 79 year old veteran of the 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry had been part of some of the Western Theater’s hardest fighting at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. He was taken into custody on a warrant alleging that he had discharged a firearm illegally within Seattle city limits. His guilt was undisputed. He had most certainly fired the weapon and was in fact responsible for the fatality. However, he was not to be charged with murder.
The Desk Sergeant that booked Camp into custody was Roy Olmstead, who became infamous himself a decade later as the "King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers." Sgt. Olmstead inquired if he had hit his intended target. Mr. Camp replied indignantly, “Hit him? Of course I hit him. Think I served 3 years in the war for nothing?” The victim of this accurate gunshot had been stealing his chickens, so Camp had “laid for him and plugged him from the upstairs window.” A neighbor, W. C. Kitely, had lodged the complaint with the police that led to Mr. Camp’s arrest and confirmed the facts of the fatality.
The old veteran's well placed shot was an unfortunate end to a poor black cat’s life. George Camp was released from custody on his own recognizance. It does not appear that there were any further incidents involving George and his “warlike spirit.”
Two days later, the Seattle Daily Times newspaper commemorated the event with a comical cartoon and the following piece of inspired prose:
“A Civil War vet with a gat,
Took a shot at a very black cat,
The night was as dark,
As a Stygian park,
But he hit the said feline at that!”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer January 11 1914
Seattle Daily Times January 13 1914
Seattle's Civil War Legacy presents the history of Seattle's Civil War veterans. Over 2500 Civil War veterans resided in Seattle and King County area in the decades following the Civil War. Each of these veterans have their own individual history but there is also a greater collective history of this generation of veterans who came to Seattle. These men helped build the city both literally and figuratively. The mission of SCWL is the study and sharing of that history by way of written articles, video, public history and tours.