Captain Guthrie arrived at Fort Steilacoom in the first week of February 1856 with his command, Company H/9th Infantry. With him were 1st Lt. Davis and 2nd Lts. Fleming and David Bell McKibbon.
He was born in 1819 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to the Mexican War, Guthrie rose to command of the Dusquesne Greys, but later earned a captain’s commission in the Regular Army in the 11th Infantry Regiment. He landed at Vera Cruz with the 11th Infantry and saw heavy action at Contreras, Churubusco, and Molino del Rey.
Guthrie was wounded at Molino del Rey, falling twice from small arms fire. While recovering from his wounds, Guthrie received a Brevet Major’s distinction for his valor in combat.
The 11th Infantry disbanded after the Mexican War. At this point, Presley Guthrie returned to Pennsylvania and was discharged from the Regular Army. In the early 1850s, he organized and took command of a volunteer organization (militia) company that called itself the “Independent Guthrie Grays.”
Upon the raising of the newly organized 9th Infantry Regiment in early 1855, Guthrie secured a commission as captain in the new regiment. He helped train the new regiment and shortly after arriving in the District of Puget Sound in February 1856, he took the field with his troops. According to testimony provided by surgeon George Suckely, Capt. Guthrie fell ill during the rainy campaign, exhibiting a severe cold and fever.
Guthrie soon suffered from some form of bodily paralysis that most likely resulted from his advanced stage of tuberculosis, a disease that Surgeon Michael Barry testified as one Guthrie first contracted during the Mexican War. Due to poor health, Captain Guthrie applied for a furlough. He died on December 29, 1857 in Newport, Kentucky. His funeral was arranged by his old militia unit, the “Guthrie Grays” and a company of troops from the nearby Newport Barracks was turned out at the ceremony.
Presley Guthrie left behind a wife, Mary, and five children. Mary applied for and was granted her late husband’s pension in 1861. One of her sons, Edward, died in the Civil War at age 18.
Presley N. Guthrie