Lycurgus was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1823. Son of a newspaper publisher and grandson of a Partiot of the Revolutionary War, he was well educated in private schools. At age 17 he left for Washington D.C. to find employment. He obtained a position with Dr. Col. Samuel F.B. Morse as a laboratory assistant. In 1844, he was on one of the two telegraph keys when the first electronic message in history was sent asking: “What hath Gog wrought?” Later he was sent to build and manage the first telegraph office in Charleston, South Carolina. Here he met his wife Susan and began his family.
He later moved back to Washington D.C. and secured a position with the U.S. Treasury Department. By 1861, with his loyalties firmly with the south, he moved his family back home to Warrenton then traveled to Richmond to seek employment with the Confederate States Government. He found a position in the Confederate States Treasury Department. By 1863, the need for fighting men was great and the men of his department formed the 3rd Virginia Infantry, Local Defense Troops. his battalion became affectionately known as the “Clerk’s Battalion” due to their position within the government and the part-time nature of their service. They fought with distinction from April 1863 thru April 1864 at which time they were all called into full-time active duty service. Lycurgus helped train a corps of women to fill the posts in the Treasury before he left.
From April 1864 until the end of the war, the 3rd fought in the defense of Richmond day and night. Under the command of Major General George Washington Custis Lee, the Richmond defenders served with distinction. They evacuated Richmond with the government wagon train, and most were captured or killed at the Battle of Saylor’s Creek. Lycurgus evaded capture just as the war ended. With much difficulty, he made it back home without surrendering.
Following the war, he followed in his father’s footsteps and founded a newspaper in Warrenton. It is still in publication to this day. He passed away in 1910 and was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor by the U.D.C.
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