Researching the men of Antietam, I very often come upon descriptions of the horror of battle. Only rarely do I see that level of tragedy in their lives after the war. Today I read such a story – that of William G. Pryde, who had been wounded at Sharpsburg in 1862  as a Private in the 37th Virginia Infantry.

On Christmas Eve 1877:

A horrible accident occurred at 3:30 o’clock this morning [in Memphis, TN] on Alabama St. Detective William C. Pryde, while half asleep, imagined that he heard a burglar at his window, took a pistol from under his pillow, and in attempting to cock it the weapon was discharged, the ball passing through the body of his 5 month old child, and also through the body of his wife, causing the death of both in a few hours. The inquest is now being held …

The coroner’s jury, in the case of Det. Pryde, who accidentally shot & killed his wife & child this morning exonerated him, his wife having repeatedly stated that it was an accident before her wound proved fatal.

… Those who witnessed the scene between Mr. Pryde and his wife after this shooting say that it was most heartrending. She caressed him and blessed him to the last, exonerating him entirely … Mr. Pryde is well-nigh crazed with grief, and has the full sympathy of his brother policemen and all who know him. He is a faithful, efficient officer, and has had many perilous adventures with evildoers. It was only a few months ago that he was shot nearly to death by a negro burglar whom he was trying to arrest, and has only been on duty a short time since his recovery from that scrape …

He remained a detective on the Memphis Police Department until his death in 1900.

This photograph is from the Memphis Police Photo Lab via Facebook.

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