Biographies of the 5 commanders of the Army of the Cumberland
Robert Anderson; William T. Sherman; Don Carlos Buell; William S. Rosecrans; George H. Thomas
Ulysses Grant; Philip Sheridan; John Schofield; Henry Halleck; Joseph Hooker; Gordon Granger; William Hazen; August Willich; Peter Osterhaus; John Wilder; William "Baldy" Smith; James Wilson; James Garfield
For biographies of the main Confederate generals associated with
Army of Tennessee go to bios AoT :
1. Braxton Bragg; 2. J. Johnston; 3. John Bell Hood; 4. Richard Taylor; 5. Wheeler; 6. Forrest; 7. Cleburne;
8. Polk; 9. Cheatham; 10. Hardee; 11. Stewart; 12. Longstreet; 13. Breckinridge; 14. Kirby-Smith
Robert Anderson was born on 14 June 1805 near Louisville, Kentucky into a slave-holding family steeped in American military tradition. He graduated from from West Point in 1825 (5th out of 37). His brother, Richard, was a lawyer, politician, and diplomat, and Anderson, after graduating from West Point, served briefly as his brother's private secretary when he was minister to Colombia. He was assigned to further instruction at the Fortress Monroe Artillery School, and then taught Artillery at West Point for two years. Among his students were Sherman, Bragg, Beauregard (who became his assistant), McDowell, Meade, Hooker, and Early. His first combat experience came when he commanded Illinois volunteers in the Blackhawk Indian wars. At the battle of Bad Axe on 3 Aug. 1832, he saved the saved an infant Indian from its mother's arms, wounded by the bullet which had killed its mother, and brought it to a dressing station. Three days later he wrote in disgust to his brother that he had observed scenes of "misery axceeding any I ever expected to see in our happy land. Dead bodies, males & females, strewed along the road, left unburied, exposed -- poor, emaciated beings." In 1837 he fought in the Seminole Wars, during which he contracted fevers which recurred for the rest of his life. Because of the illness he could have excused himself from the Mexican War, but he offered to serve anyway, declining an offer to serve on Scott's staff. He was severely wounded at the battle of Molino del Rey, and was afterward breveted for bravery for his role there. Halfway through the war he wrote to his wife, Eba (whom he had married in 1842, Winfield Scott standing in for her father): "I think that no more absurd scheme could be invented for settling national difficulties than the one we are ingaged in -- killing each other to find out who is in the right."
After his service in Florida, Anderson had, with the exception of the interlude in Mexico, worked in administration. In 1839 he translated a French manual on artillery, clarifying the text and adding illustrations. This established Anderson as an authority on the subject. One result was that the American artillery became more efficient, more mobile, thus contributing to the defeat of the Mexicans a few years later. After the Mexican War he became a member of the commision which in 1851 produced the US army's official textbook for siege artillery. From 1855 to 1859, in view of his precarious health and probably also due to his connections to Winfield Scott, he was assigned to the light duty of inspecting the iron beams produced in a mill in Trenton, New Jersey for Federal construction projects. He was promoted in 1857 to major in the 1st artillery. In the fall and summer of 1860, Anderson was a member of a commission which, along with his friend Senator Jefferson Davis, examined the curriculum of West Point and its system of discipline. At the time he was 57 and considering retirement, and he would normally have passed into contented obscurity. However, on 15 Nov. 1860 he received an order:
Major Robert Anderson, First Artillery, will forthwith proceed to Fort Moultrie, and immediately relieve Bvt. Col. John Gardner, lieuteant-colonel of First Artillery, in command thereof.
The order, although signed by General Winfield Scott, emanated from the office of the Secretary of War and future Confederate General John B. Floyd who probably chose Anderson in light of his supposed Southern sympathies. Because of his background, and because he had married the daughter of a wealthy Georgia slave holder, but without much other justification, as he was a quiet and reticent man, Anderson was considered pro-southern and a defender of slavery. It is true that he, through his marriage, had become the owner of a small number of slaves, but he sold them all shortly before the beginning of the Civil War. In any case, it was expected that he would be cautious and tactful in his duties, thereby avoiding actions provocative to South Carolina. Southerners as well thought Anderson would be sympathetic to their demands that the forts be turned over to the Confederacy. Indeed, Anderson himself seemed to think that if war could be avoided, the seceding states might, ultimately, return peaceably to the Union. However, apparently nobody had counted on his rigid concept of duty. He liked to say that he lived by his father's religion and General Washington's politics, and that he needed only three documents to guide his path: the Ten Commandments, the Constitution, and the book of army regulations, and he apparently threw in his lot with the Union without hesitation. Through his resolution and patience he made an essential contribution to the Union war effort by getting Beauregard to fire first.
After the unannounced relief ship Star Of the West was fired upon by Carolinian gunners on 9 January 1861, Anderson, not wishing to start a war, withheld his fire. On 26 Dec. 1860 Anderson surprised everyone by suddenly transferring the garrison from the exposed and dilapidated Fort Moultrie to the more defensible, but unfinished Fort Sumter. Decades in the building, it was a large and solid structure of concrete slabs erected on an artificial island overlooking the seaward approaches to Charleston. During this entire period he had had no specific instructions from the administration in Washington. Secretary of War Floyd did send to him Don Carlos Buell, then a captain attached to the War Department, with memorized verbal instructions which Buell, after having seen the condition of Ft. Moultrie, then interpreted in a manner which left Anderson some leeway to decide for himself, whether to transfer or not to Sumter. Taking advantage of the holiday season and reduced surveillance on the part of the South Carolina milita, Anderson carried out the move during the early evening of 26 Dec. 1860, thus embarrassing President Buchanan and inflaming Southern public opinion. Ft. Sumter was regarded by people on both sides as a symbol. After Lincoln took office, many in his cabinet were willing to relinquish it, but not Lincoln. The Charleston Mercury wrote: "Let us be ready for war...Border Southern States will never join us until we have indicated our power to free ourselves - until we have proven that a garrison of seventy men cannot hold the portal of our commerce. The fate of the Southern Confederacy hangs by the ensign balliards of Fort Sumter."
By April 5, General Beauregard had deprived the fort of its daily supply of food from Charleston and made repeated demands that Anderson surrender, which he refused. On 12 April 1861, just as a relief expedition of several ships was approaching, the Confederates opened fire. The opening bombardment of the Civil War lasted 2 days. On 14 April 1861 Anderson formally surrendered after his food and ammunition had run out.* Thanks to the solid structure of the fort, he suffered not a single casualty during the bombardment, thus demonstrating the wisdom of his decision to abandon Ft. Moultrie. He returned to the North with his garrison and, despite a hero's welcome, felt a sense of failure in not having prevented the war. Anderson was promoted to B.G. USA on 15 May 1861 and took command of the Dept. of Ky. on 28 May 1861. On 15 Aug. 1861 the department was renamed Dept. of the Cumberland. He was at first based in Cincinatti, from where he began recruiting, but transferred to Louisville shortly after the Confederate General Leonidas Polk (without orders) moved into Kentucky and occupied Columbus on the Mississippi. This act violated the precarious neutrality declared by the Kentucky state government, and thus provided Anderson with an excuse to transfer his headquarters to Louisville. He started his assignment with no troops and no equipment, but he had the foresight to insist upon having the services of George H. Thomas and to put him in charge of Fort Dick Robinson, the nation's first modern basic training camp. He worked to get Thomas supplies and to get him promoted. Perhaps weakened by the mental and physical demands of his Sumter service and by the enormous difficulties of his new assignment, he relinquished command on 8 Oct. 1861. Afterward he went to Washington and supported Thomas as best he could, intervening to keep him from being replaced by a political general. Anderson retired from the army due to disabilities on 27 Oct. 18 63 and was breveted Maj. Gen. USA on 3 Feb. 1865. On 14 April 1865 Anderson was present at Sumter when the original flag was reraised. He later went to Nice, France, seeking a cure for his ailments, and died there on 26 Oct. 1871.
* From Robert Anderson's
April 1861 dispatch after boarding the steamship Baltic: "Having
defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters were
entirely burned, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge walls
seriously injured, the magazine
surrounded by flames, and its door closed from the effects of heat,
barrels and three cartridges of powder only being available, and no
remaining but pork, I accepted terms of evacuation offered by General
being the same offered by him on the 11th instant, prior to the
of hostilities, and marched out of the fort Sunday afternoon, the 14th
with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private
and saluting my flag with fifty guns."
"It is the wish of the Government that your army proceed to and occupy East Tennessee with all possible dispatch. It leaves to you the selection of the roads upon which to move to that object; but it urges that this selection be so made as to cover Nashville and at the same time prevent the enemy's return into Kentucky. To now withdraw your army to Nashville would have a most disastrous effect upon the country, already wearied with so many delays in our operations... Neither the Government nor the country can endure these repeated delays. Both require a prompt and immediate movement toward the accomplishment of the great object in view--the holding of East Tennessee."
The long period of maneuvering ended in the bloody but indecisive Battle of Perryville, precipitated by a minor engagement over sources of then scarce water. Only parts of both armies were engaged due to breakdowns in command and communications on both sides. The result nevertheless pushed Bragg back into Tennessee and definitively brought Kentucky under Union control. The alleged tardiness of Buell's pursuit and his objections to an unrealistic plan of campaign ordered by the Washington authorities brought about his replacement by Rosecrans. Note that almost no post-battle pursuit on either side during the Civil War was successful. The complaints made against him were investigated by a military court of inquiry in 1862-63, but the jury could agree only on a mild censure for errors during the battle. This verdict did not satisfy Halleck and the government prosecutor, and the inconclusive result was not published. Nevertheless, Buell was thereafter sidelined and not again offered significant duty. General William Farrar "Baldy" Smith, one of the Union's most respected generals, described Buell in his unpublished memoirs as "a capital soldier and a student in his profession. He fought a battle with courage, coolness, and intelligence, saving us from utter rout at Shiloh, into which false position Halleck's ambition and Grant's density had begotten us." After waiting in Indianapolis a year for orders, Buell resigned his volunteer commission in May 1864 and his regular commission in June 1864. After the war he settled in Kentucky, where he engaged in coal mining and became president of the Green River Iron Company, and in the period 1885-89 he was a government pension agent. He died on 19 November 1898 at his home near Paradise, Kentucky, and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
*A careful reading of
Grant's "Personal Memoirs" will produce many interesting quotes like
this one concerning Buell: "General Buell was a brave, intelligent
officer...When I came into command of the army in 1864, I requested the
Secretary of War to restore Buell
to duty." Grant didn't request very strenuously because nothing came of
Elsewhere in the Memoirs Grant wrote: "I have no doubt that this sight
the panic at the rear of the Union front at Shiloh] impressed General
with the idea that a line of retreat would be a good thing just then." Note
Rosecrans resigned from the Army after 12 years of service in 1854, and became an architect and a civil engineer. He took over direction of mining in western Virginia (West Virginia today) where his geological surveys pointed with remarkable accuracy to profitable new veins of coal. He became President of a navigation company formed to transport coal. In 1857 he organized the Preston Coal Oil Co. in Cincinnati, OH. He was also an inventor. Numbered among his inventions were odorless oil, a round lamp wick, a short practical lamp chimney, and a new and economical method of manufacturing soap. While in the laboratory a safety lamp exploded and burned him so badly that he was bedridden for 18 months. As soon as he recovered, he returned to his now profitable business activities, but when the Civil War broke out he immediately offered his services.
His first duties in the war were for the state of Ohio when he became the drillmaster for the "Marion Rifles", after which he became the engineering officer that laid the plan for Camp Dennison, Ohio and eventually became the Commanding Officer of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which which among its members Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, and Stanley Matthews, a future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Rosecrans was soon appointed a Brigadier General in the regular Army in which capacity he defeated Robert E. Lee at Rich Mountain, Virginia. Rosecrans developed and carried out the plans which gained the victory at Rich Mountain, but McClellan, who wasn't even there, did not give him any credit in the official reports. Then Fremont was placed over him, and Rosecrans suffered under the pathfinder's less than professional approach to command. Thus Rosecrans requested a transfer to the west where he was first under Halleck, and then placed in charge of 2 divisions of the left wing of Grant's Army of the Mississippi at the battles of Iuka and Corinth.
At both battles he did well, driving Price from Iuka and repulsing the attack of Price and Van Dorn on Corinth. Grant absented himself and part of his forces from both battles. After Corinth, animosities between Grant and Rosecrans arose. Grant blamed Rosecrans for not pursuing the Confederate army after Iuka and Corinth, and then for pursuing too long, and Rosecrans placed blame on Grant for not sending reinforcements during the battle of Corinth. Rosecrans also felt that he could have destroyed the army of Price and Van Dorn at Tupelo, Miss. and gone on to take Vicksburg, thus shortening the war, but Grant probably wanted the laurels of Vicksburg for himself. Like McClellan, perceiving in Rosecrans a potential rival, Grant gave no credit to Rosecrans for the victories* and did his best to keep Rosecrans's star from rising too high. To escape this bitter climate and probable censure Rosecrans gladly accepted the offer of 24 Oct. 1862 to take command of the Army of the Cumberland. Grant later wrote in his Personal Memoirs: "I was delighted at the promotion of General Rosecrans to a separate command because I still felt that when independent of an immediate superior the qualities which I, at that time, credited him with possessing, would show themselves. As a subordinate I found that I could not make him do as I wished, and had determined to relieve him from duty that very day." By some coincidence Grant found fault with every subordinate commanding officer who was successful or displayed initiative.
Once in Tennessee Rosecrans put the organization of the Army of the Cumberland on an even higher level. Upon receiving reports that Bragg was moving toward Nashville, Rosecrans confronted him and fought competently at the very costly but indecisive battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) on 31 Dec. 1862 and 2 Jan. 1863, for which Congress later accorded him the Thanks of the Nation. About this time, perhaps as a reaction to the casualties at Murfreesboro, Rosecrans's earlier aggressive quality gave way to caution, and he thus came into conflict with the War Department which demanded action and quick victories of him. Finally, on 23 June 1863, after six months of preparation in the face of official pressure to take the offensive, he began the Tullahoma campaign, a military masterpiece which forced back Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg a hundred miles and into Chattanooga, Tenn. at the cost of only 500 casualties. However, he was as ambitious as many another Civil War general, and he suffered from the lack of recognition he received for this victory about which he wrote the following reproach to Stanton: "I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department my not overlook overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood."
He then maneuvered Bragg out of Chattanooga without a battle. There Rosecrans's caution vanished, and he followed Bragg precipitously and against Thomas's repeated warnings to first consolidate in Chattanooga. Bragg then turned upon him and brought on the bloody battle of Chickamauga (19-20 September 1963). An ill-advised move the morning of the second day opened a gap in Rosecrans's lines and allowed Southern forces to pour through and put to rout part of his army, which was driven back into Chattanooga.
Only the strong stand of Gen. George H. Thomas with 25,000 men on the Union left on Snodgrass Hill against the entire Confederate army numbering about 60,000 averted complete destruction. At nightfall the evening of 20 Sept. 1863 Thomas retired in good order and was not pursued. The defeat was mitigated, however, by the fact that the Union army retained control of Chattanooga. Rosecrans, who had joined in the flight to Chattanooga, seemed to have been demoralized by the defeat and became irresolute, although he did lay the groundwork for lifting the state of siege in which his army found itself, and for the following Union victory in the battle of Chattanooga (23-25 Nov. 1863). A month later Thomas replaced Rosecrans, ending any important role for him in the war.
However, his reputation with the public remained intact. On June 1, 1864, James Garfield telegraphed from Baltimore asking if he would accept the Republican nomination for Vice President on the ticket with Abraham Lincoln. He had always been a strong Democrat and while he was intensely loyal and prosecuted the war with all his power, he doubted whether be could accept all principles of Republican Party. He hesitated and finally sent Garfield his consent, but it was too late. Rosecrans served in minor capacities for the remainder of the war and resigned in 1867.
He then moved to Los Angeles, CA and became an advocate for railroad building in the West and Mexican trade, and in 1868 he was appointed Minister to Mexico. During the next two years he served in this capacity and took an active interest in affairs of that country. During the 1870's he developed mines in Nevada, the Southwest, and Sonora, Mexico. From 1881-1885 he represented California as democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives where he became Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. In 1885 Grover Cleveland appointed him register of the U.S. Treasury, and he held the office until 1893, in which function he applied his signature to many a currency note. In 1889 Congress restored him to the rank and pay of a brigadier general of the regular army on the retired list. He retired to a ranch near Los Angeles in 1893 and died on 11 March 1898 in Redondo, Calif. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
* Grant sent on 9 Oct.
the following telegraph to Lincoln: "Your dispatch received. Cannot
answer it so fully as I would wish. Paroled now 813 enlisted men and 43
commissioned officers in good <ar24_157> health; 700 Confederate
wounded already sent to Iuka paroled; 350 wounded paroled still at
Corinth. Cannot tell the
number of dead yet. About 800 rebels already buried. Their loss in
about nine to one of ours. The ground is not yet cleared of their
dead. Prisoners yet arriving by every road and train. This does not
casualties where Ord attacked in the rear. He has 350 well prisoners,
two batteries and small-arms in large numbers. Our loss there was
400 and 500. Rebel loss about the same. General Oglesby is shot through
breast and the ball lodged in the spine. Hopes for his recovery. Our
and wounded at Corinth will not exceed 900, many of them slightly." Not
one word about Rosecrans who had just won 2 battles.
George H. Thomas, a
very astute non-politician, won every one of his engagements in the
Civil War. For a book-length biography of him go to the "Life of
Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas" by Van Horne.
George Henry Thomas was born on 31 July 1816 in Southampton County, VA and died on 28 March 1870 in San Francisco. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY in 1840, George H. Thomas served in the Mexican War (1846-48) and as an artillery and cavalry instructor at West Point. Despite his Southern birth he remained loyal to the Union when the Civil War broke out. In command of an independent force in eastern Kentucky, Thomas defeated the Confederates under Crittenden on 19 Jan. 1862 at Mill Springs and gained the first important Union victory in the war, thus undermining the entire western defense of the CSA general Albert Sydney Johnston. Thomas then served under General Don Carlos Buell and arrived too late at Shiloh in order to participate in the second day of the battle. After the battle Halleck put Thomas in command of Grant's Army of the Tennessee while Grant was apparently sidelined as second in command under Halleck with no responsibility. Later, when politically motivated complaints against Buell's lack of initiative against Bragg become more and more strident, Thomas was offered but refused the chief command. At the battle of Perryville his 14th corps was not engaged. Bragg was forced to withdraw into East Tennessee, but Buell was faulted for lack of pursuit, and he was replaced by William S. Rosecrans. Under Rosecrans Thomas was instrumental in holding the center with his artillery at Murfreesboro (Stones River), Tenn. on 31 Dec. 1862 and 2 Jan. 1863. Thomas was in charge of the most important part of the maneuvering during the Tullahoma Campaign on 22-29 June 1863 and the entry into Chattanooga, Tenn. (8 Sept. 1863). On 19-20 Sept. 1863, after two days of battle along Chickamauga Creek in Georgia 12 miles south of Chattanooga, General Thomas steadfastly organized Union defenses after the collapse of the Union right wing and withstood all afternoon long violent attacks on the left wing by the entire Confederate army until the arrival of reserve units under Granger allowed an orderly withdrawal of Union troops back to Chattanooga. For this action Thomas was called the "Rock of Chickamauga" and later promoted to brigadier general of the regular army (maintaining his rank of major general of the volunteers). Thomas succeeded Rosecrans in command of the Army of the Cumberland on 19 Oct. 1863. Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland played the determining role in the great victory at Chattanooga on 23-25 Nov. 1863. This battle opened the door to the deep South and made possible the subsequent capture of Atlanta on 2 Sept. 1864 which helped assure Lincoln's reelection. Before Sherman's march to the sea in the autumn of 1864, Thomas was ordered back to Nashville to deal with the threat to Union communications by the Confederate forces of General John B. Hood. Thomas had achieved his objective by Christmas, checking the enemy army at Franklin, Tenn. on 30 Nov. 1864, and finally at Nashville, Tenn. on 15-16 Dec. 1864. At that historic battle, Thomas inflicted on Hood the worst defeat sustained in the open field on either side during the war. It was also the only decisive Union victory of the war in which the USCT played a meaningful role. Thomas then directed the forces which captured Selma and pursued and captured Jefferson Davis on10 May 1865. Thomas was made a major general of the regular army and received the thanks of Congress. Toward the end of the war and afterward Thomas was the military governor in charge of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Thomas wholeheartedly supported the reconstruction policies of Lincoln and Johnson and is recognized as being the most effective of all of the military governors. In 1869 Thomas accepted the onerous command of the Division of the Pacific with headquarters at San Francisco although his health had begun to deteriorate. He complicated matters greatly for future biographers by destroying all of his personal papers, saying: "All that I did for my government are matters of hisotry, but my private life is my own and I will not have it hawked about for the amusement of the curious." He died at the age of 54 in his office in San Francisco.
As a means of getting one's back into life, war can be a bad bargain...But it is a way of the leather store. And for some men it is much more than that - it is the fulfillment that the world will yield in no other manner. For these men, war appears as a refutation of...the evil of personal hollowness [emphasis added]. War, for a man like Grant, was the only situation in which he could truly connect to his country and countrymen and be at one with them and with himself. McFeely, p. 67-68.
Grant to Gen. Hurlbut on 9 Nov. 1862: "Refuse all permits to come south of Jackson for the present. The Isrealites especially should be kept out..."
"The enemy [at Chattanooga] fled, but Grant, as at Shiloh, did not move in pursuit. It was a great victory, but it had not been accomplished according to Grant's design. Sherman's Army of the Tennessee had not won the fierce battle, and Grant never forgave Thomas [emphasis added] for the fact that the men of his Army of the Cumberland, whom Grant held in some contempt, had carried the day. The Union had won - the engagement may even have been the turning point of the war - but the total destruction of Bragg's army was not accomplished and an immediate march southeast into Georgia did not follow. The splendid military victory was not, finally, a complete success. However, Grant's reputation soared." McFeely, p. 148
"Lincoln was far above letting his own political ambitions keep him from giving Grant the full military power and prestige needed to win the war and preserve the Union, but one Illinois politician could size up another. Lincoln wisely obtained from Grant a disclaimer of any hope of a hasty move to the White House. Grant, just as shrewdly, chose to wait his turn." McFeely, p. 1262.
"In May 1864 Ulysses Grant began a vast campaign that was a hideous disaster in every respect but one - it worked. He led his troops into the Wilderness and there produced a nightmare of inhumanity and inept military strategy that ranks with the worst such episodes in the history of warfare...A nation's adulation of the general deserves inspection in the light of this exercise in carnage." William S. McFeely, Grant - A Biography, 1981, p. 165
"The news [of the nomination] came to Grant in the same way that the nomination came to him: he had not sought it. But neither could he have endured not having it come to him." McFeely, p. 277
"As Grant sought to avoid the heat of the suffrage question, so too was he quietly conservative in the matter of fiscal policy. There was, in fact, no issue he cared about deeply; no cause in the furtherance of which he sought the presidency." McFeely, p. 279
"If Ulysses Grant had had all the wit and wisdom of the world, it might not have been enough to bring eleven rebel states into line on Reconstruction, but one word from him could have reconstructed West Point enough for James Smith [the first black to attend West Point] to emerge, relatively unscated, as a second lieutenant." McFeely, p. 376
"Ulysses Grant knew that Orville Babcock was guilty and yet went so far as to perjure himself before the chief justice of the United States to keep his aide out of jail." McFeely, p. 415.
Sherman, an expert in matters of character, stated: "Grant's whole character was a mystery even to himself - a combination of strength and weakness not paralleled by any of whom I have read in Ancient or Modern History...."
Grant to Ord after the
battle of Corinth: "It is a great annoyance to gain rank and
command enough to
attract attention. I have found it so and would really prefer some
little command where public attention would not be attracted toward me."
Proof that Grant wrote at
part of his Memoirs: "I always admired the South, as bad as I
their cause, for the boldness with which they silenced all opposition
all croaking, by press or by individuals, within their control" (pg.
To put the following biographical sketch
Grant in perspective read my essay on the Grant
Ulysses Simpson Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant on 22 April 1822 of Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He grew up in Georgetown, Ohio. Detesting the work in the family tannery, Ulysses instead did chores on his father's farm and developed much skill in handling horses. In 1839 Jesse secured for Ulysses through Congressman Thomas Hamer an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and pressured him to attend. Although he had no interest in military life, Ulysses accepted the appointment, realizing that the alternative was no further education. However, his congressional appointment was erroneously made in the name Ulysses S. Grant, the name he eventually accepted, maintaining that the middle initial stood for nothing. He came to be known as U.S. Grant, and his classmates called him Sam. Only a little over five feet tall when he entered the academy, he grew more than six inches in the next four years. Bored by the military curriculum, he took great interest in the required drawing courses and read classic novels in his spare time. Grant ranked 21st in a class of 39 when he graduated from West Point in 1843, but he had distinguished himself in horsemanship and showed such considerable ability in mathematics that he considered teaching the subject at the academy. Upon graduation Grant was assigned as a brevet second lieutenant to the 4th U.S. Infantry and stationed near St. Louis, Missouri, where he met his future wife Julia Boggs Dent, the sister of his roommate at West Point. During the Mexican War (1846-48) he was quartermaster for his regiment. However, he did see some action, although how much is debated. At the battles of Molino del Rey under Zachary Taylor and Chapultepec under Winfield Scott, he earned brevet commissions as first lieutenant and captain, although his permanent rank was first lieutenant. Grant wrote years later: "I do not think there was ever a more wicked war....I thought so at the time...only I had not moral courage enough to resign." Showing moral courage never was Grant's strong suit. On 5 July 1852, when the 4th Infantry sailed from New York for the Pacific coast, Grant left his growing family (two sons had been born) behind. Assigned to Fort Vancouver, Oregon Territory (later Washington state), he attempted unsuccesfully to supplement his army pay with business ventures and was unable to reunite his family. A promotion to captain in August 1853 brought an assignment to a dreary post in Fort Humboldt, California. On 11 April 1854 Grant resigned from the army under threat of expulsion. Whether this situation had anything to do with Grant's fondness for alcohol, which he reportedly drank often during his lonely years on the Pacific coast, or with irregularities in the accounting of his office, remains open to conjecture. He returned home to his wife, settling at White Haven, the Dents' estate in Missouri, and began to farm the 80 acres given to Julia by her father. This farming venture was a failure, as was an attempt to sell firewood, and as was a real estate partnership in St. Louis in 1859. In 1860 Grant joined the leather goods business owned by his father and operated by his brothers in Galena, Illinois.
When Civil War broke out, Grant offered his services as a colonel to the state of Illinois but was first rebuffed. However, he helped recruit and drill troops in Galena, then accompanied them to the state capital, Springfield, where Governor Richard Yates made him an aide and assigned him to the state adjutant general's office. Yates appointed him colonel of an unruly regiment (later named the 21st Illinois Volunteers) in June 1861. Through the influence of Elihu B. Washburne, a U.S. congressman from Galena, Ill. who would promote Grant's fortunes throughout the war, Grant was appointed brigadier general before he had even engaged the enemy. On hearing the news and, in view of his son's previous failures, his father said, "Be careful, Ulyss, you are a general now--it's a good job, don't lose it!" Grant was soon appointed to command of the District of Southeast Missouri, headquartered at Cairo, Illinois. On 7 Nov. 1861 he led an improvised raid on the Confederate positions at Belmont, Missouri, opposite the strong Confederate force under Polk in Columbus, Ky. just across the river. The Union troops surprised the Confederates, but then began looting during Grant's absence from the field. After being reeinforced the Confederates rallied and drove Grant’s men back up the river, inflicting heavy casualties (25%). In January 1862 Grant received permission from General Henry Halleck to begin an offensive campaign, and he occupied Paducah at the juction of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. This made possible another improvised move against the Forts Henry and Donelson in Feb. 1862 which had been rendered untenable anyway by the earlier victory of Thomas at Mill Springs on 19 Jan. 1862. In fact his men had no winter clothing, and did not eat for days, but Grant was in perhaps in hurry to get the battle finished before the arrival of Buell who outranked him and was also heading toward Ft. Donelson. After a comedy of split command, most of the Confederate garison was captured, although Forrest and Floyd took their troops out. On this occasion Grant received the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant. When Buckner asked Grant what his terms were, he first consulted one of his division commanders, the older Charles F. Smith who told him to offer no terms, whereupon Grant send the message since become famous.
After Forts Henry and Donelson Grant was put in charge of the movement against A. S. Johnston's forces in Corinth, Miss. Grant repelled an unexpected Confederate attack on 6-7 April 1862 at Shiloh Church, near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. Grant was absent from the field the first morning, and his army was not prepared to defend itself. When Buell arrived with reincorcements that evening he encountered a disintegrating army with thousands of Union troops trying to flee the scene of the battle and get to the east side of the Tennessee river. The next day Buell's fresh troops drove the Confederates from the field, and Grant never forgave Buell for having been a witness of his embarassment. Coincidentally, Buell's difficulties with the War Department later increased to the point of his being hauled before a military court of inquiry for mistakes which weren't nearly as grave as those of many another commander, including Grant. Shiloh was the first really costly battle of the Civil War, and the public outcry over heavy Union losses in the battle and poor pre-battle planning damaged Grant's reputation. Halleck therefore arrived toward the end of April in order to take personal command of the army.
About his state of preparedness at Shiloh, Grant wrote in his Memoirs that "the troops with me, officers and men, needed discipline and drill than they did experience with the pick, shovel and axe." He perhaps also wanted to spare his men the dibilitating horrors of advanced picket duty, because he did not establish at Shiloh the standard system of two lines of vedettes and pickets. He simply could not immagine that the Confederates, safe in their fortifications in Corinth, would not simply await his attack, so he and Sherman discounted the reports of increasing enemy activity in front of them. During Halleck's subsequent slow campaign to take Corinth (6 weeks to cover 25 miles), Grant was second in command but had no actual authority. Grant complained bitterly about this, even to the point of having to be dissuaded from resigning by Sherman. However, Halleck was certainly doing Grant a favor by keeping him out of the limelight in the wake of the controversy about the butchery at Shiloh. In any case, when Halleck was called to Washington as general-in-chief in July, Grant regained command. In fact, Thomas, who had temporarily assumed command of Grant's units, requested that they be returned to Grant, a magnanimous gesture which Grant apparently did not appreciate. See the article Slow Trot' and other Thomas nicknames to see how Grant, together with Sherman, repayed Thomas by attempting to destroy his reputation.
In the summer of 1862 Grant was occupied in trying to mop up Confederate resistance in northern Mississippi. Smaller forces under Price and Van Dorn were causing him a lot of annoyance. However, when his subordinate, William S. Rosecrans, brought them to bay and defeated them in Sept. and Oct. at the battles of Iuka and Corinth, Grant contributed very little to and perhaps even interfered with these victories. Again, Grant was absent, and again he subsequently attacked the reputation of a subordinate who was too successful or could possibly ever become a rival for promotion.
In the late fall of 1862 and winter of 1863, Grant conducted various fruitless operations against Vicksburg, including having his men try to build canals through a malarial Louisiana swamp, just to keep them busy. I quote from his Memoirs (p. 233):
"Then commenced a series of experiments to consume time, and to divert the attention of the enemy, of my troops, and of the public generally. I, myself, never felt great confidance that any of the experiments resorted to would prove successful. Nevertheless I was always prepared to take advantage of them in case they did."
Many of the men thus kept busy got sick and
but they had been diverted while they lived. Thomas Buell wrote the
about this campaign:
"Thus the grand strategy for seizing
the Mississippi River was born of deceit. With deceit as its
campaign was destined to be governed by audacity and expediency, with
wastage of time, matériel, and lives. The campaign consumed nine
of false starts and missed opportunities. It succeeded because the
[Grant] was able to arouse and direct, however imperfectly, the
enormous energy of the Federal forces on the Mississippi" ("Warrior Generals," pp. 242-43).
While in Vicksburg Grant, with the help of a Colonel John Eaton, administered camps for slaves who were put back to work harvesting cotton on the very plantations from which they had escaped. As Grant writes in his Memoirs (p. 221):
"At once the freedmen became self-sustaining. The money was not paid to them directly, but was expended judiciously and for their benefit. They gave me no trouble afterwards."
As a matter of fact, the sale of cotton to the North never stopped during the war, and the competition from civilians trying to cash in on this lucrative trade may have had something to do with Grant's infamous General Order 11 of 17 Dec. 1862 mandating the expulsion of "the Jews, as a class" from northern Mississippi, Kentucky and western Tennessee. In various tortured "man of his times" explanations the Grant apologists try to soften the blatant anti-semitism of this order. My suggestion that it was mostly about business as usual is perhaps some, albeit small comfort to them because, after all, the pogroms in Russia, Poland, and Germany were also mostly about business.
After Vicksburg, Grant was present more or less as an observer at the battle of Chattanooga (23-25 Nov. 1863) where he unsuccessfully tried to hand the victory to Sherman who failed utterly in the task assigned to him. Fortunately for the Union, George H. Thomas was there to keep things on an even keel. Afterward, Grant, Sherman, Halleck, and Dana rewrote the history of the battle so that it conformed to Grant's plan, and Grant was promoted in March 1864 to the newly reinstated rank of Lieutenant General and brought east in order to command the Army of the Potomac and direct the operations of all of the Union forces.
Before Lincoln allowed this to happen, he first inquired about any political ambitions Grant may have been harboring, because opposition to Lincoln's renomination was rising, and Grant was being touted as the next president in major newspapers. Lincoln consulted Elihu Washburne, the Illinois congressman who had been one of Grant's earliest promoters, and a J. Russell Jones, at the time Grant's "investment advisor".1 Grant had apparently come into some money since the beginning of the war when he was bankrupt, but it is not clear how. Jones produced an artfully crafted letter from Grant2 , categorically stating he had no intention of running for president. However, after Lincoln was renominated, there was an attempt by some Republicans to organize a second nominating convention. When the rumors reached Lincoln that the conspirators were still considering Grant, Lincoln put the question to the above mentioned Col. John Eaton of the freedmen labor camps. Eaton visited Grant and then reported to Lincoln who, reassured, exclaimed: "I told you, they could not get him to run until he had closed out the rebellion."3
As commander of the Army of the Potomac, Grant pursued a policy of constant attacks against Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, but not without costs. Due to poor planning and occasionally indecisive management, he suffered severe casualties at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and espcecially Cold Harbor (3 June 1864) where he launched an attack against state-of-the art fortifications without having conducted any reconnaissance. The result of this were 7000 Union casualties in less than a half hour, as opposed to 1,500 Confederate casualties. Grant then waited 4 whole days before requesting a truce in order to bury the dead and pick up any wounded who happened to survive that long after the battle. In his Memoirs Grant wrote: "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made." Surely the families of the killed and maimed soldiers were greatly comforted by this admission, partial as it was. You see, Grant did not mention in this context that he had been egregiously negligent (again), which somewhat reduces the effect of the admission.
Grant then laid siege to Lee in Petersburg from June 1864 to April 1865, while Sherman laid waste to large areas in Georgia and South Carolina, and Thomas repelled Hood's invasion of Tennessee. Grant, who had not moved for months, did not willingly grant Thomas 2 weeks to prepare for the battle of Nashville (15-16 Dec. 1864), but tried with every means possible, including the subversive activities of the political general Schofield who had been inserted into Thomas's command, to force Thomas into action, any old action, regardless of consequences and extreme winter conditions. Only the news of Thomas's stunning victory kept him from being replaced by Logan whom Grant had already sent to Nashville for this purpose. When Lee left the Petersburg trenches in April 1865 in an attempt to unite with Confederate forces in North Carolina (which Thomas blocked by sending Stoneman into the area), Grant followed, eventually surrounding Lee and the remnants of his army at Appomattox Court House, forcing Lee to surrender. Grant had finally eliminated an army on the open field. True, his army outnumbered the remains of the Army of Northern Virginia by 20 to one.
In 1866 he was appointed to the newly established rank of 4-star general. In 1867 Johnson removed Secretary of War Stanton and thereby tested the constitutionality of the Tenure of Office Act, which dictated that removals from office be at the assent of Congress, and in August appointed Grant interim secretary of war. When Congress insisted upon Stanton's reinstatement, Grant resigned (January 1868), thus alienating Johnson, who believed that Grant had agreed to remain in office to provoke a court decision. Johnson's angry charges strengthened Grant's long-standing and covert ties to the Republican Party which nominated him for president in 1868. The last line of his letter of acceptance, "Let us have peace," became the Republican slogan. Grant's opponent was Horatio Seymour, former governor of New York. The race was close, and Grant's narrow margin of victory in the popular vote (300,000 ballots) may have been attributable to some manipulation of newly enfranchised black voters. The vote of the electoral college was more one-sided, with Grant getting 214 votes, compared to 80 for Seymour.
Grant entered the White House on 4 March 1869 with no civilian political experience, although with lots of military political experience. At age 46 he was the youngest man elected president until then. His appointments to office were uneven in quality. Grant did name the civil engineer Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian who had served with him as a staff officer, to the ceremonial post of commissioner of Indian affairs. More typical was the appointment of the noted financier Hamilton Fish as secretary of state. During the next 8 years the Ulysses and Julia made up for lost time, but Americans did not seem to mind that the Grants lived beyond their means. They redecorated the White House lavishly, entertained accordingly, and spent much more than he earned. On 18 March 1869 Grant signed his first law, pledging to redeem in gold the greenback currency issued during the Civil War, thus siding with the financial conservatives of the day. He appointed the first Civil Service Commission, but after initially backing its recommendations, he abandoned his support for the reforms when faced with congressional opposition. Grant was equally unsuccessful when the Senate rejected his treaty of annexation with the Dominican Republic. His negotiation of the Treaty of Washington provided for the settlement by international tribunal of American claims against Great Britain arising from the wartime activities of the British-built raider Alabama, whose sale to the Confederacy had violated Britain's declared neutrality. Grant won reelection in 1872, defeating Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune and the candidate for the coalition formed by Democrats and Liberal Republicans, by about 800,000 votes in the popular election and capturing 286 of 366 electoral votes. During the campaign, newspapers discovered that prominent Republican politicians were involved in the Crédit Mobilier of America, a paper entity designed to siphon profits from the Union Pacific Railroad which was partially funded by government bonds. More scandal followed in 1875 when Secretary of the Treasury Bristow exposed the operation of the "Whiskey Ring", a group of high-placed officials including Grant's private secretary, Orville E. Babcock, which defrauded the government of tax revenues. Although Grant had pronounced, "Let no guilty man escape," he accepted the resignation of Secretary of War William W. Belknap before he could be tried on charges of accepting bribes. Grant closed his second term by assuring Congress and a credulous posterity: "Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent." Grant supported both amnesty for Confederate leaders and, in his pronouncements at least, civil rights for former slaves, although he was unable or unwilling to enforce the civil rights laws. His 1874 veto of a bill to increase the amount of legal tender led to a wave of bankruptcies, but perhaps diminished the currency crisis during the next quarter century, and he helped throw the disputed election of 1876 to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.
After leaving office, Ulysses and Julia Grant set forth on a round-the-world trip. Grant's legend as the man who had saved the Union having preceded him, he was greeted everywhere as a hero and received by heads state including Queen Victoria, Bismarck, and the Japanese emperor. In 1879 Grant found that some Republicans were determined to nominate him for a third term. Although he did little to openly encourage support, he received more than 300 votes in the early ballots at the 1880 convention which, however, finally nominated the dark horse James A. Garfield who, according to Grant, had "the backbone of an angleworm." I guess Grant meant that Garfield had lost or misplaced the backbone he displayed when, on 20 Sept. 1863, he joined Thomas on Snodgrass Hill at Chickamauga. In 1881 Grant and his son helped found the investment firm of Grant and Ward. Grant put his capital and those of his friends at the disposal of the firm and encouraged others to follow, including many soldiers of his former command. In 1884 the firm collapsed, and Ferdinand Ward disappeared with all of the money. This impoverished the Grant family and further tarnished Grant's reputation. In order to raise money Grant, with the considerable help of a partisan historian named Badeau, began to write reminiscences of his campaigns for the Century Magazine and found this work so profitable that he began his memoirs, despite throat pain later diagnosed as cancer. He signed a contract with Mark Twain to edit and publish the memoirs. In June 1885 the Grant family moved to a cottage in the Adirondack Mountains, and a month later Grant died there, shortly after completing the memoirs. They enjoy high rank among military autobiographies, in spite of inaccuracies and numerous distortions of the historical record. What happened to the hand-written manuscripts which would prove his authorship?
A funeral cortege seven miles long accompanied his coffin to a temporary vault in New York City's Riverside Park. In 1897 his remains were removed to a granite tomb in Manhattan, designed by Grant himself down to the last detail. The 150 feet high mausoleum with a domed rotunda and allegorical relief figures representing episodes in Grant's life does not fit the image of modesty which Grant cultivated in his lifetime and has been enshrined in the history books. There are 5 busts there of "sentinals," i.e. generals who helped further Grant's career. They are Sherman, Sheridan, McPherson, a 4th whom I can't identify, and Thomas. As an epitaph he chose his disingenuous campaign slogan "Let us have peace." Grant could not possibly have regretted the war, for he would have remained an unknown failure if the nation had avoided civil war. Beware of megalomaniacs who will not even blink at your destruction if it helps them to escape their anonymity.
1David Herbert Donald writes on pp. 490-91 of "Lincoln": Still he was not yet ready to bring Grant in from the West. One reason was that the general was beginning to be talked about as a possible presidential candidate in 1864. He was a favorite of the influential New York Herald, and, since his political views were unknown, he was wooed by both Democrats and Republicans. With General McClellan conspicuously courting the Democrats, Lincoln was not about to appoint another general-in-chief who had political aspirations, and he asked E.B. Washburne, the representative from Grant's district, to report on the general's political ambitions. Washburne reffered him to J. Russel Jones, a close friend of Grant and his investment advisor, who brought to the White House Grant's letter [see below] pledging that nothing could persuade him to be a candidate for the presidency, particularly since there was the possibility of reelecting Lincoln. "You will never know how gratifying that is to me," the President said after reading the letter. "No man knows, when that presidential grub gets to gnawing away at him, just how deep it will get until he has tried it; and I didn't know but what there was one gnawing at Grant."
Donald's footnote no. 491 on p. 668: "gnawing at Grant": Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Doubelday, Page & Co., 1909, 2:187-189. For a thorough evaluation of Grant's position on the nomination, see John Y. Simon, ed., The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982), 9:541-544.
which Grant wrote (only to a Democrat) to deny any presidential
is as follows:
To Barnabas Burns:
December 17th 1863
B. Burns, Esq., Chairman Dem. Cen. Comm.
Your letter of the 7th inst. asking if you will be at liberty to use my name before the convention of the "War Democracy", as candidate for the office of the Presidency is just received. -- This question astonishes me. I do not know of anything I have ever done or said which would indicate that I could be a candidate for any office whatever within the gift of the people.
I shall continue to do my duty, to the best of my ability, so long as permitted to remain in the Army, supporting whatever Administration may be in power [italics mine - ed.], in their endeavor to suppress the rebellion and maintain National unity, and never desert it because of my vote, if I had one, might have been cast for different candidates. Nothing likely to happen [italics mine - ed. What does this mean?] would pain me so much as to see my name used in connection with a political office. I am not a candidate for any office nor for favors from any party. Let us succeed in crushing the rebellion, in the shortest possible time, and I will be content with whatever credit may then be given me, feeling assured that a just public will award all that is due. Your letter I take to be private. Mine is also private [actually not all that private - ed.]. I wish to avoid notoriety as far as possible, and above all things, desire to be spared the pain of seeing my name mixed with politics. Do not therefore publish this letter but wherever, and by whatever party, you hear my name mentioned in connection with the candidacy for any office, say that you know from me direct that I am not "in the field," and cannot allow my name to be used before any convention.
I am, with great respect, your obt. svt.
U. S. Grant
3 Herbert, "Lincoln", pp. 525-26:Inevitably reports of these plans reached Lincoln's ears. He was neither surprised nor worried by most of the schemes to replace him as the nominee of the Republican party, but he was alarmed when he heard that the dissidents were thinking of running Grant. He did not think the general had political aspirations but, concluding that he ought to sound him out again, he asked Colonel John Eaton, who had worked closely with Grant in caring for the freedmen in the Mississippi Valley, to go the Army of the Potomoac and ascertain his views. At City Pont, Eaton told Grant that many people thought he ought to run for president, not as a party man but as a citizens' candidate, in order to save the Union. Bringing his hand down on the arm of his chair, Grant replied: "They can't do it! They can't compel me to do it!" He went on to say that he considered it "as important for the cause that he [Lincoln] should be elected as that the army should be successful in the field." When Eaton reported the conversation to the President, his relief was obvious. "I told you," he said., "they could not get him to run until he had closed out the rebellion."
Donald's footnote no. 526 on p. 673: "Closed out the rebellion": John Eaton, Grant, Lincoln and the Freedman (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1907), pp. 186-191.
In a certain sense, Sherman did today's Georgia school children a favor. He turned them into history students because you can ask even first graders who he was, and they will tell you about the man who burned everything. From the beginning of hostilities in the Atlanta Campaign on 6 May 1864 and the march to the sea ending two days before Christmas 1864 with him capturing Savannah, Sherman did his best to punish the civilian population of Georgia. Afterward, in his march through South Carolina, Sherman really let himself go. As a result of this campaign, the Confederacy was split in two and deprived of much needed supplies, although the war could have been ended more quickly had Sherman shown more initiative in the Atlanta campaign or afterward attended to purely military goals, such as breaking the defense of Peterburg and Richmond.
Born on 8 May 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio, his father died when he was young. Widowed and unable to care for the entire family, his mother sent brother Thomas to be raised by an aunt, and William became a foster child to Thomas Ewing, his father's friend. Cump, as he was known, later married Mr. Ewing's daughter, Ellen. Educated at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he graduated in 1840. During the Mexican War, Sherman was posted in San Francisco. He resigned his commission in 1853 to become a partner in a bank there. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities between the North and the South, Sherman was Superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary and Military Academy at Alexandria, Louisiana. After the war, the school moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and became Louisiana State University (LSU). Talk of the secession from the Union was rampant, and on 18 January 1861, Sherman resigned his position stating that he preferred to maintain his allegiance to the Constitution as long as a fragment of it survived. On the 25th of February, Sherman left Louisiana and returned to Ohio. He remained in Lancaster for a month and then moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri where he was elected President of the Fifth Street Railroad.
On 8 May 1861, Sherman wrote to the Secretary of War, offering his services for three years. On 20 June 1861 he was appointed Colonel in the Thirteenth Regular Infantry. He assumed command of a brigade in the First Division of McDowell's army. His brigade, stationed at a stone bridge during the battle of First Manassas (Bull Run), was routed by devastating Confederate cannon fire. In August 1861, Sherman and George H. Thomas were promoted to Brigadier General and were assigned to the Department of the Cumberland under the command of Brigadier-General Robert Anderson, the "hero of Ft. Sumter." Sherman had previously served under Anderson, and it was Anderson that requested that Sherman (along with Thomas and Buell) be transferred to his command. In October 1861, Sherman relieved Anderson and commanded the dept. of Kentucky for only one month. Filling quotas for Kentucky volunteers was extremely difficult, and the allegiance of the State was split. Later that month, Sherman told Secretary of War Cameron that if he had 60,000 men, he would drive the enemy out of Kentucky, and if he had 200,000 men, he would finish the war in that section. He also grossly exagerated the strength of the Confederate forces facing him and predicted an imminent invasion of Kentucky and even Ohio. When Cameron returned to Washington, he reported that Sherman required 200,000 men. The report was given to newspapers and a cry of indignation arose from the public. A writer of one of these newspapers even went as far as saying that Sherman must be "crazy" in demanding such a large force. Writers have since often declared that he was insane, which is not accurate. Certain is, that he was subject to wild swings between enthusiasm and depression. The clinical term for this is manic-depression. During his brief month of command in Kentucky, he ordered Thomas to occupy East Tennessse, and preparations were made by Unionists there to help this project. However, at the last moment Sherman, in a moment of panic, recalled Thomas, and many Unionist partisans in East Tennesse were rounded up and hung. On 8 Nov. 1861 Shermen, under public pressure, requested to be relieved from command in Kentucky. The request was granted, and he turned his department over to Buell, and he was sent to St. Louis to the Department of the West under Halleck who, in a letter to Sherman's foster father, stated, "I have seen newspaper squibs charging him with being 'crazy', etc. This is the grossest injustice. I do not however, consider such attacks worthy of notice." Strictly speaking, manic-depression is not insanity. On February 13, 1862, Sherman assumed the command of the post at Paducah, Kentucky, relieving U.S. Grant of that position and still required protection from his bouts of depression during which he continued to make panicked orders on the basis of exagerated estimates of Confederate strength. On March 11, 1862, Halleck was assigned to command the Department of the Mississippi and Major-General U.S. Grant to command the army in the field. The organization and the name given to this army was the Army of the Tennessee. Sherman was placed in command of the Fifth Division of this army.
The Army of the Tennessee saw its first battle at Shiloh. Due to poor preparation on the part of Grant, Sherman, and others, the North nearly lost the first day's battle, but with reenforcements from Buell and the Army of the Cumberland, the Confederate troops were driven from the field on the second day. In July 1862, Sherman was assigned to command the District of Memphis. Later that year Sherman, in a frontal assault at Chickasaw Bluffs, failed to seize the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, but was with Grant in the campaign that finally ended in the capture of that city in July 1863. Sherman was given command of the Army of the Tennessee in the fall of 1863 and, in a remarkable display of military incompetence, fought in the Battle of Chattanooga with his troops unsuccessfully assaulting a much smaller force under Patrick Cleburne on Missionary Ridge. On that occasion, thanks to Thomas and Hooker, the Federals did capture the Ridge, and Bragg's troops retreated into Georgia. Afterward, Sherman was made overall commander of the armies in the West and was accorded the Thanks of Congress, perhaps as the result of the efforts of his U.S. senator brother, John Sherman. William T. was also in the habit of effusively praising the generalship of Grant and Halleck, which they surely didn't mind.
On 4 May 1864, with more than 100,000 troops, Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign. The entire staff work of the force was conducted by the Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland. The Confederate commander J. Johnston held off the troops of McPherson at Resaca, but then had to withdraw after the battle when federal troops were endangering his position by outflanking him. For a description of this kick-off, see the article Sherman and Grant vs. Thomas at Resaca. The strength of the Union army and the ability to supply themselves were too much for Johnston, and his army was gradually forced closer and closer to Atlanta. Johnston defeated Sherman's armies at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain on 27 June 1864, another of Shermans's failed frontal assaults, but once again had to move his troops back southward to Smyrna due to the threat of being turned. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, lost faith in Johnston's ability to oppose Sherman and, on 17 July 1864, Davis relieved Johnston of his command and replaced him with the aggressive John B. Hood. Hood was just as unsuccessful in stopping the Union armies and fought four futile battles in the attempt. Finally on 2 September 1864, Sherman's troops entered the city of Atlanta. Sherman declared Atlanta to be a military encampment and ordered the civilians to leave the city. From September to November, Sherman pursued Hood, but to no avail. Hood then began marching northward, hoping to win back Tennessee and Kentucky. Sherman made the statement, "If he continues to march North, all the way to the Ohio, I will supply him with rations." Sherman began planning his March to the Sea. He kept most of the the seasoned veterans, 60,000 in all, and sent the sick and the about to be furloughed troops back to Nashville to be under the command of Major-General George Thomas who nevertheless crushed Hood in the battle of Nashville on 15-16 Dec. 1864.
In November 1864, Sherman began his infamous raid. He left the Union prisoners in Andersonville to their uncertain fates, but he did set fire to Atlanta's munitions factories, railroad yards, clothing mills, and other targets. Predictably, the fire got out of hand and spread throughout the city. With his four Corps in two columns, Sherman cut a swath 60 miles wide marching towards Savannah, destroying anything that could be useful to the enemy, and meeting no military opposition. Much of the violence to civilians was carried out by criminal camp followers. They were called "bummers" and consisted of stragglers from both Union and Confederate armies. Sherman issued orders that they be kept under control, but as they were helping to make Georgia howl, he probably didn't really object to their activities.
On 23 December 1864, Sherman sent a telegram to Lincoln stating that he was presenting him the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift. Following the occupation of Savannah, Sherman's troops cut an even wider path of destruction through South Carolina and fought an inconclusive battle at Bentonville, North Carolina, against a much smaller force under Johnston. Lee surrendered to Grant on 9 April 1865, and Johnston surrendered to Sherman on 17 April 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina. After the war, Sherman was promoted to Lieutenant General in the regular army commanded by Grant until his election to the presidency in 1868. Grant put Sherman in charge of the entire West, and they were thus both responsible for Sheridan's genocidal operations against the Cheyenne, Sioux, and other tribes. In the fall of 1868 Sheridan - future Full General and Commander of the Armies (1884-88) - wrote to Sherman:
"In taking the offensive I have to select that season when I can catch the fiends; and if a village is attacked and women and children killed, the responsibility is not with the soldiers, but with the people whose crimes necessitated the attack."
Sherman heartily approved and wrote back the following encouraging words:
"Go ahead in your own way and I will back you with my whole authority...I will say nothing and do nothing to restrain our troops from doing what they deem proper on the spot, and will allow no mere vague general charges of cruelty and inhumanity to tie their hands, but will use all the powers confided to me to the end that these Indians, the enemies of our race and of our civilization, shall not again be able to begin and carry out their barbarous warfare on any kind of pretext they may choose to allege."
The "man of the times" argument doesn't wash, because there were people who tried to protect the Indians' interests. Nor can Sherman's attitudes be explained away as being a momentary aberration, because in in 1889 he wrote to his son and expressed his regret that his armies did not murder every last Indian in North America.
Grant must not have objected very strenuously to this aspect of Sherman's character because he received Sherman's glowing reports of the "successes" against the Indians. Upon becoming president, Grant had Sherman promoted to Full General on 4 March 1869. Four days later Sherman assumed command of the entire U. S Army. He retired in 1883 and died in New York City, 14 Feb. 1891.
It must be said of Sherman that he did perform one service to the North which proved essential to its war effort. Namely he, while briefly in charge of the Department of the Cumberland, hindered the consumation of a politically motivated order to have Thomas turn over his troops at Camp Dick Robinson to General O. M. Mitchell. Otherwise Thomas's career as commander might have ended in 1861. The letter Sherman wrote to Thomas in this regard follows:
October 13, 1861.
GENERAL GEO. H. THOMAS, Com'd'g Camp Dick Robinson.
You are authorized to go on and prepare your command for active service. General Mitchel is subject to my orders, and I will, if possible, give you the opportunity to complete what you have begun. Of course I would do all I can to carry out your wishes, but feel that the affairs of Kentucky call for the united action of all engaged.
W. T. SHERMAN, Brig.-Gen. Com'd'g Dep't of the Cumberland.
Letter of 17 Sept. 1863 from Sherman to
General-in-chief of the Armies Henry W. Halleck:
"The United States has the right, and ... the ... power, to penetrate to every part of the national domain…. We will remove and destroy every obstacle - if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper."
Letter of 21 June 1864 from Sherman to
secretary of war Stanton:
"There is a class of people [in the South] … men, women, and children, who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order."
Letter of 9 Oct. 1864 from Sherman to
General-chief of the Armies Ulysses S. Grant:
"Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military
resources…. I can make the march, and make Georgia howl."
Orders issued on 9 Nov. 1864 by Sherman
before his march to the Sea:
The army will forage liberally on the country during the march. To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in the wagons at least ten days' provisions for his command, aiming at all times to keep in the wagons at least ten days' provisions for his command, and three days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes, and other vegetables, and to drive in stock in sight of their camp.
To corps commanders alone is entrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc.; and for them the general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bush-whackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless, according to the measure of such hostility. As for horses, mules, wagons, etc., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit; discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor and industrious, usually neutral or friendly.
William Sherman wrote about the March to
in his 1875 Memoirs:
The skill and success of the men in collecting forage was one of the features of this march. Each brigade commander had authority to detail a company of foragers, usually about fifty men, with one or two commissioned officers selected for their boldness and enterprise. This party would be dispatched before daylight with a knowledge of the intended day's march and camp; would proceed on foot five or six miles from the route traveled by their brigade, and then visit every plantation and farm within range. They would usually procure a wagon or family carriage, load it with bacon, corn-meal, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and every thing that could be used as food or forage, and would then regain the main road, usually in advance of their train. No doubt, many acts of pillage, robbery, and violence, were committed by these parties of foragers, for I have since heard of jewelry taken from women, and the plunder of articles that never reached the commissary; but these acts were exceptional and incidental. I never heard of any cases of murder or rape; and no army could have carried along sufficient food and forage for a march of three hundred miles; so that foraging in some shape was necessary.
"Sheridan, the fiery little man in whom so many of Grant's private urges found expression...." Mcfeely, p. 221He asserts that he was born on 6 March 1831 in Albany, N.Y. of John and Mary Minah Sheridan, Irish immigrants. However, his actual birthplace is a mystery. There are no records of his birth at Albany, New York, Boston, Mass., nor at Somerset, Ohio where he grew up. Sheridan at various times claimed all three places and may even have been born on the boat bringing his parents from Ireland. If that were the case, then he would have been excluded from high political office, which may explain his obfuscation. In any case, he arrived with his parents in Somerset as an infant and spent his childhood there. Sheridan attended school in Somerset until the age of fourteen, at which time he went to work for various businessmen. In 1848 Congressman Thomas Ritchie, a friend of the family, obtained an appointment to West Point for him. In 1851, in an incident which speaks volumes about his character, he objected to a harsh order given him by an upperclassman named Terrill and therefore threatened him with a bayonet. After Terrill reported the incident, Sheridan attacked him with fists, and was suspended from the accademy for a year. Sheridan graduated 34th in a class of 52 in July 1853 and was assigned to various posts in the West and far West during the years leading up to the Civil War. On 4 April 1861 Sheridan was promoted to Captain, and in September of 1861 was called east to St. Louis for duty under Gen. Halleck, commander of the Union Armies of the West. Sheridan was first assigned to supply but convinced Halleck he would be of better service in the field and was reassigned to Curtis who was preparing to drive the Confederates out of southern Missouri. At this point Sheridan was recommended by Sherman to be given command of one of Ohio's volunteer regiments but was turned down, perhaps because Curtis had attempted to have him court-martialled because of irregularities in the distribution of vouchers for supples requisitioned from Southern sympathizers. Sheridan appealed to Halleck who transferred him back to St. Louis, and the trial never took place. Then Gen. Gordon Granger requested Sheridan be given command of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry vacated by Granger's promotion. Halleck concurred, and Sheridan jumped from Captain to Colonel overnight (25 May 1862). Two months later Sheridan was stationed at a forward post near Booneville, Mississippi. The Confederates pressed forward with more than 5000 troopers to wipe out Sheridan's contingent of only 827 men. Sheridan was equipped with repeating rifles which gave him some advantage, but in repelling the enemy he also used trickery. By loading troops on a train and discharging them noisily at Booneville, silently marching them back up track and reloading and discharging them time and again he perhaps deceived Confederate General Chalmers into thinking he was being reinforced. Because of this action Sheridan was commissioned Brig. General at the age of only 31. After this engagement Sheridan was ordered to the town of Rienzi, Mississippi, and it was here a friend gave Sheridan a large Morgan horse which he named Rienzi after the place. At the battle of Perryville under Buell he disobeyed express orders to avoid bringing on a general engagement and pushed his brigade too far forward, thus inviting attack and forcing McCook to intervene. Under Rosecrans at Murfreesboro on Stones River south of Nashville, Tenn. he played a part in holding back the Confederates under Gen. Bragg, but then removed his troops from the battle when they ran out of ammunition. Other units in the center, who were also short of ammunition, fought on. He was promoted to Major General in April 1863. In later years Grant had his reasons for stating that in this battle Sheridan, rather than Thomas, had saved Rosecran's army. At the battle of Chickamauga on the 19th he was not involved in the fighting, but arrived at dusk at the Viniard farm and requested that Crittenden's troops (who had been fighting all day) participate in a night pursuit through the woods. On the 20th he removed his entire division from the field when the Federal right collapsed, and he refused entreaties to return to the field to support Thomas who had remained with only 25,000 men on Snodgrass Hill to face the entire Confederate army. This was, for some strange reason, overlooked while other commanders such as Negley and McCook were court-martialled for the same behavior. In both his battle report and his Memoirs, Sheridan lied about this incident. His troops took part in the charge up Missionary Ridge which won the decisive battle of Chattanooga (23-24 Nov. 1863), but his units weren't first to break through as he claimed. On the evening of the 25th he ordered his division to pursue the Confederates in the dark, through thick and unfamiliar woods down the other side of the ridge, and thus got some of his men killed unnecessarily, but Grant commended his fighting ardor. On 12 March 1864 Grant was appointed General-in-Chief of the Union Armies, and he called Sheridan to join him in Washington. Here Sheridan was appointed Chief of Cavalry, Army of the Potomac. He led the raid on Richmond which resulted in the death of Jeb Stuart at Yellow Tavern (May 1864). As commander of the Army of the Shenandoah in 1864, he drove Confederate forces under Early from the Shenandoah Valley and laid it waste (August 1864 - February 1865), leaving the inhabitants, as he put it, "with only their eyes to weep with over the war." Sheridan's fabled "ride" occurred on 19 October 1864, when he supposedly galloped 20 miles from Winchester in order to rally his routed forces at Cedar Creek. Actually, the ride was 14 miles, and his subordinates had stabilized the situation before he returned. If he had stayed at his post his ride wouldn't have been necessary. Commanding a numerically overwhelming force of infantry and cavalry, the intense, aggressive, and pathological Sheridan led the Union pursuit to Appomattox, where he joined Grant in compelling Lee's surrender on 9 April 1865. After the war he proved to be especially severe as a military governor in the New Orleans (resulting in rioting in which hundreds of people were killed), so he was removed and sent west. There he organized campaigns against the Plains Indian tribes in which he was especially effective against women and children. He is often reported as having said, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead," but this is not documented. However, the following quote from him is. In the fall of 1868 Sheridan wrote to Sherman: "In taking the offensive I have to select that season when I can catch the fiends; and if a village is attacked and women and children killed, the responsibility is not with the soldiers, but with the people whose crimes necessitated the attack" (Geoffrey C. Ward, "The West," 1996, pg. 250). One of the more recent Sheridan biographers, Richard O'Connor, glosses over this phase of Sheridan's career with the excuse that he was a "man of his times" ("Sheridan The Inevitable," 1953, pg. 296). Many contempories of good sense, however, recognized the ciminality of Sheridan's policies. At the age of 52, in 1884, he succeeded Sherman as commander-in-chief of the army. Congress revived the grade of full General and he was given his fourth star by President Grover Cleveland in 1888. In the last year of his life he wrote his unreliable Personal Memoirs. He died on 5 August 1888 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
At the outbreak of the war, Schofield first served as mustering officer for the state of Missouri, received the promotion of major of the 1st Missouri Infantry, and served as chief-of-staff under General Nathaniel Lyon at the battle of Wilson’s Creek. On November 21, 1861, Schofield was promoted to brigadier general, and placed in charge of all the Union militia in Missouri. He was placed in charge of the Army of the Frontier, and was promoted to major general on November 29, 1862, though the Senate did not confirm the appointment until May 12, 1863.
He was given command of the XIV Corps in Tennessee, but returned to
Missouri in May of 1863 to command the Department of the
January of 1864, Schofield led the Army of the Ohio during the Atlanta
Campaign under William
T. Sherman. When Sherman set off on his infamous “March to
the Sea,” Schofield and his command were left under George
H. Thomas to stop the invasion of Tennessee led by Confederate
On November 30, 1864, Schofield successfully repulsed John Bell Hood
during the battle of Franklin, and effectively crippled Hood’s
Two weeks later, during the battle of Nashville, General Thomas used
Schofield and his XXIII Corps to effectively destroy what was left of
Hood’s army. Schofield received a promotion to brigadier in the
regular army for his actions at Franklin.
The Battle of Wilson's Creek
August 10, 1861
1860, he obtained leave to occupy the chair of Natural Philosophy in
Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. Soon the War of the Civil
Rebellion opened, and the young professor was detailed by the War
Department to muster the Missouri troops into the United States
service, being at the same time appointed Major of the 1st Missouri
Infantry, Ids regular army rank being then that of captain, to which he
passed by regular steps since his brevet of second lieutenant with
which he had left West Point. After the battle of Booneville he was
made Assistant Adjutant-General to General Lyon, shared in that
chieftain's success at White Creek, and was by his side, when he
fell—at the moment of victory. "Wherever the battle most fiercely
raged," wrote Major Strong, in his official report, "there was General
Lyon; and there, too, was Major Schofield, his principal staff-officer.
The coolness and equanimity with which he moved from point to point
carrying orders, was the theme of universal conversation. I cannot
speak too highly of the invaluable service Major Schofield rendered by
the confidence his conduct inspired."
His gallantry had its reward in his appointment, November 21st, 1861, as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and his assignment to duty in command of the Missouri Militia, authorized by the War Department to be raised for service during the war. When General Halleck went to Pittsburg Landing, about four-fifths of that great State was placed under Schofield.
In June, 1862, the whole State was set apart as the Military District of Missouri, under his charge, and shortly after, the army of the frontier, operating in Missouri and Kansas, was committed to him, and he struck out boldly against all the organized rebel forces in that section, whipping them soundly in a severe engagement at Maysville, near Pea Ridge (October 22d), and driving them, a routed rabble, beyond the Boston Mountains and back into the valley of the Arkansas River. He had rapidly developed the salient points of a good soldier, and promotion followed close upon his footsteps.
In November, 1862, he was appointed by the President a Major-General of Volunteers, and continued in command of the "Army of the Frontier" in South western Missouri till April, 1863. The politicians of Missouri, dissatisfied with his just and straightforward administration of affairs, interfered at Washington, and prevented his confirmation; but President Lincoln reappointed him in April, 1863. He was assigned to the command of the third division of the Fourteenth Army Corps Army of the Cumberland, April 20th, 1863, but transferred on the 13th of May following to the command of the Department of the Missouri, which involved the command of the Missouri State Militia, and captured Fort Smith and Little Rock, in Arkansas. He rendered material assistance to General Grant in the siege of Vicksburg. This command he held until January, 1864, when he was relieved of his command in Missouri, and on the 9th of February following made commander of the Department and Army of the Ohio, known at that time as the Twenty-third Army Corps. This corps, on the sixth of May following (the day when Sherman commenced his Atlanta campaign), numbered 13,539 effective troops, but was subsequently reenforced. In all the battles in the Atlanta campaign, and they were many, and some of' them very severe, General Schofield took an active and honorable part. His command, though only one-ninth of the entire force, was never found wanting whenever any brave or daring enterprise. was to be undertaken; and it would be hard to say which of Sherman's army commanders, Thomas, McPherson, or Schofield, best deserved the high encomiums which their grim but just chief bestowed equally on all.
won and dismantled, and some apprehensions being entertained from
Hood's raid into Tennessee, General Sherman despatched General Thomas,
with General Schofield as second in command, to look after the Rebel
General. Schofield repaired at once to Nashville, and learning that
Hood was crossing the Tennessee at Florence, set out to meet him and
obstruct and delay his progress until General Thomas could collect a
more adequate force, and especially a larger cavalry force, for the
defence of Nashville and Tennessee. Skirmishing with Hood continually,
from the 14th to the 30th of November, General Schofield had a sharp
action at Pulaski, another at Columbia, and on the 30th of November
fought the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, one of the severest in the
Western campaigns. His own force was greatly outnumbered by that of the
enemy, and the result, amid terrible slaughter, was a drawn battle. But
Schofield had gained his point; he had so thoroughly delayed and
crippled Hood's army that General Thomas had been able to concentrate
his troops at Nashville, and Tennessee was safe. Falling back upon
Nashville by rapid marches, he succeeded in joining General Thomas with
his command before Hood could overtake him. On the 15th and 16th of
December, the battle of Nashville took place, and General Schofield,
conspicuous as ever for his
daring, had a full share in Hood's discomfiture, and pursued him relentlessly, till his troops, a disorganized and almost wholly disarmed mob, singly and by scores found their way across the Tennessee.
no time in rest, General Schofield and his command were next ordered,
via Cincinnati and Washington, to the mouth of Cape Fear River, N. C.,
arriving January 15, 1865. Here he took part in the capture of Fort
Anderson and Wilmington, in the battle and occupation of Kinston, and
on the 22d of March joined General Sherman at Goldsboro.
He was detailed to execute the military convention of capitulation of General J. E. Johnston's Rebel army, April 26, 1865, and was in command of the Department of North Carolina till June 21, 1865. He had been made a brigadier-general in the regular army, his commission dating from November 30, 1864, the day of the battle of Franklin. On the 13th of March, 1863, he was brevetted major-general in the regular army, and in 1867 was commissioned major-general in that army. From June 22, 1865, to August 16, 1866, he was on special duty in Europe. On his return he was put in command of the Department of the Potomac, and on the reorganization of the military commands, March 13, 1867, was made commander of the First Military District (Virginia).On the 23d of April, 1868, on the final resignation of Secretary Stanton, he was appointed Secretary of War, and held that position till March 11, 1869, performing its duties with eminent ability. Resigning this office, he was made commander of the Military Department of the Missouri, and on the death of General Thomas, transferred to the command of the Military Division of the Pacific, with headquarters at San Francisco. He still retains this command. In all the positions, military and civil, which General Schofield has been called to occupy, be has acquitted himself with the highest credit, making no failures and no blunders.
The cleverest of the Grant gang was born on 29 Sept. 1831 in Gerry,
N.Y. Son of a Baptist clergyman, he graduated from West Point in 1853
(7th out of 52), served in Florida, taught at West Point, and was
on leave of absence to teach physics at Washington University (St.
Louis) when the Civil War began. He was assigned to duty in Missouri
and held a series of administrative posts during the first years of the
war. Caught in the middle of the political struggles between the
radical and less radical unionists of Missouri, he came
under personal attack and was defended by Halleck who spirited him away
division command for 4 weeks under Thomas in Tennessee (17 April-10 May
until the heat was off.* Several times later Halleck
intervened to help Schofield. Schofield was sent to Knoxville in Jan.
and he later commanded the small Army of the Ohio (2 divisions) in the
Atlanta campaign under Sherman, an astounding promotion considering
that he had little
previous field experience and none with large scale armies. This
resulted in his becoming second-in-command under Thomas before and
the battle of Nashville, although Stanley outranked him. He bore a life-long
against Thomas because at West Point Thomas had ruled against him in
disciplinary matter. Before the battle of Franklin Schofield disobeyed
explicit order from Thomas to retire from Columbia, and as a result was
trapped by Hood. At the battle of Franklin he resolutely avoided the
line, and at Nashville he repeatedly disobeyed orders to attack. Worse,
actively intrigued with Grant before the battle in an attempt to have
either step down or be removed. He was Secretary of War under President
and actively supported Sherman's and Sheridan's genocidal policies
the Indian wars. He served as superintendent of West Point (1876-81).
1888 he was promoted to Lt. General and became Commander-in-chief of
army. In 1892 Congress discovered that he had led a charge at the
of Wilson's Creek and awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor. He
in 1895. His memoirs "Forty-Six Years in the Army" appeared in
In it on page 242 he wrote the following about Thomas: "General Thomas
not possess in a high degree the activity of mind necessary to foresee
provide for all the exigencies of military operations, nor the
talent required to estimate 'the relations of time, space, motion, and
This absurd estimation is contradicted by hundreds of contemporary and
commentators, among them Thomas Buell who wrote: "Thomas had mastered
science of military transportation. He knew every road and river
in Tennessee, and he could calculate time, distance, and capacity with
precision" ("Warrior Generals," pg. 384). After a lifetime of
to his country, Schofield died on 4 March 1906 and is buried in
*SAINT LOUIS, MO., April 10, 1863.
Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief, Washington, D.C.:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I thank you for the order sending me to the Army of the Cumberland, and for your efforts to secure my promotion. There is a powerful combination of military and political aspirants in this department, whose success requires my removal from any important command here, and sufficiently unscrupulous to resort to any means that might be necessary to accomplish it. I was aware of my inability to withstand such attacks as might be expected from these men, and hence desired to be separated from them before it was too late. I am as willing as anybody to be sacrificed when any good is to be accomplished by it, but do not like to be slaughtered for nothing. Had General Sumner lived to take command here, I should have been glad to remain here; as it is, it would be deep humiliation to me, without any probable chance of good to the service.
I make these remarks because of a letter just received from Professor Bartlett, in which he mentions having received one from you containing a reference to a letter you had written me a few weeks before. I did not receive the letter you refer to.
Please accept my hearty thanks for the kindness you have always shown me.
Your sincere friend,
J. M. SCHOFIELD.
The Civil War career of the much-maligned Union commander in chief and chief of staff, Henry W. Halleck, was summarized by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles as he "originates nothing, anticipates nothing..., takes no responsibility, plans nothing, suggests nothing, is good for nothing." This harsh assessment was shared by many but is not entirely accurate. He was born on 16 Jan. 1815 on the family farm near Westernville, N.Y., the first of Joseph and Catherine Wagner Halleck's thirteen children. He disliked farming so much that he ran away at the age of 16. Then his grandfather, Henry Wagner, supported his studies at Fairfield Academy in Hudson, NY, and Union College in Schenectady where he was one of five students to win the highest marks in all of his classes and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. In 1835 he entered the United States Military Academy, again thanks to the sponsorship of his grandfather. Why Halleck made this change, which meant starting his college studies all over again is not clear, because the reforms which would turn West Point into the nation's foremost school of engineering were to come later. When he graduated in 1839 the only career prospects which he could expect were either Indian wars or design of coastal defenses. In 1844 he was sent to visit the principal military establishments of Europe. After his return to the United States, he delivered a course of lectures on the science of war which were based largely on the works of the Swiss general and writer Jomini and published in 1846 as "Elements of Military Art and Science". Later it was widely used as a textbook by officers during the Civil War and served to establish Halleck's reputation as a military theorist although it contained no original thinking. Due to his scholarly pursuits he became known as "Old Brains," but this sobriquet became derogatory during the Civil War.When the Mexican War broke out in1846 he served with the U.S. expedition to the Pacific Coast and became California's secretary of state under the military government. In this capacity he helped frame the state's constitution and, according to Stephen Ambrose ("Lincoln's Chief of Staff", p. 8), "succeeded in acquiring considerable land and valuable mineral rights", benefitting from the fact that he "had access to records of land titles, and in the confused state of transferring sovereignty from Mexico to the United States." He then studied for the bar and, in the winter of 1849-50, he helped form the law firm of Halleck, Peachy and Billings. In 1854 he retired from the army as a captain, but maintained his interest in military affairs through the militia. In 1855 he married Elizabeth Hamilton, granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton. In 1861 he was on the board of directors of a bank and two railroads, and owned part of a mercury mine. His personal worth at the time was estimated at $500,000. When war erupted between the states, Halleck returned to the army and was recommended by Winfield Scott for a high post at the outset of the Civil War. He was immediately offered the rank of major general and was charged with the command of the Western theatre. Succeeding John C. Fremont at St. Louis, he straightened out the mess that had been left behind. He was instrumental in the formation of large volunteer armies, and he ably laid the groundwork for the military successes of the spring of 1862 of his subordinate generals Grant, Curtis, and Pope. His assignments included: major general, USA (19 August 1861); commanding Department of the Missouri (19 November 1861 - 11 March 1862); commanding Department of the Mississippi (13 March - 19 September 1862); commander in chief (11 July 1862 - 12 March 1864); chief of staff (12 March 1864 - 16 April 1865); commanding Military Division of the James (19 April - 27 June 1865). Taking immediate command of his three united field armies after the battle of Shiloh, he proved to be an excessively cautious field commander in his only campaign. The advance on Corinth, Mississippi, was so slow (6 weeks to cover 25 miles), and the subsequent pursuit so perfunctory, that the Confederates were able to withdraw at their leisure. It is true that the occupation of the railroad center Corinth was an important Union war objective. However, he was later relentless in his persecution of Buell (his former rival for command in the West) who was no slower and had also achieved important objectives (for example the definitive occupation of Kentucky). Halleck had the gall to convene a court of inquiry against Buell, and when the jury of 5 officers didn't condemn Buell as it was supposed to, Halleck intervened personally. To get a taste of Halleck's courtroom style see the findings of the court of inquiry. As commander of all the armies Halleck was unfairly held responsible for the frequent reverses of Union generals in Virginia and was constantly at odds with his subordinates and with the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, who succeeded in having Grant replace him on 9 March 1864. According to Ambrose ("Halleck", p. 168) Halleck, who was "so caked with intrigue that no amount of scrubbing could launder him, could do Grant's dirty work just as he had done Lincoln's." To get an idea of Halleck's work behind the scenes see the article "Slow Trot" and his correspondance with Grant and Sherman during the Atlanta campaign. Halleck had begun the war as an advocate of limited or "soft" war, but as the political climate in Washington hardened, so did his position. After Sherman's cakewalk to the sea Halleck wrote to Sherman: "Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be sown upon its site it may prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and secession" (OR, Ser. I, XLIV, 741). On 20 April 1865 Stanton got rid of Halleck by transferring him to Richmond. While there he did a genuine service to posterity by preventing the destruction of the Confederate archives which he had boxed and shipped to Washington, writing to Stanton: "At any rate they will prove to be of great value to those who may hereafter write the history of this great rebellion" (OR Ser. III, III, 1039). The shipments in 81 boxes weighed 10 tons and later made up the bulk of the the Confederate part of The War of the Rebellion, the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. After the war Halleck became commander of the Division of the Pacific with his headquarters in San Francisco. In 1869 he switched places with Thomas and became commander of the Division of the South with headquarters in Louisville, Ky. He died on 9 Jan. 1872 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Schofield, and Halleck were a gang of
lying, murderous thugs, and those who admire them identify with them.
When General A.E. Burnside resigned command of the Army of the Potomac after the Union disaster at Fredericksburg (13 Dec. 1863), Hooker was appointed to succeed him.* With typical bravado, Hooker announced, "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none." Immediately he carried out much-needed organizational reforms and prepared to challenge the South at the Battle of Chancellorsville (1-4 May 1863). His campaign started out well, as his flanking movement around Lee in Fredericksburg surprised the Confederates. However, his defects as a commanding officer became apparent when Confederate general Robert E. Lee, with fewer than half the number of troops, outmaneuvered him and caused him to stop his advance in the middle of the thickets of the Wilderness (scene of the later battle between Grant and Lee).
Having gained the initiative, Lee then sent Jackson around Hooker's right flank under Howard which collapsed and forced Hooker's retreat back across the Rappahannock.. According to Boatner (Civil War Dictionary), although "Howard's troops had detected this maneuver, they were unable to convince Howard or Hooker of the real danger." This defeat resulted in the loss of 17,000 Union soldiers. However, that same evening Jackson was fired upon by his troops in the dark while conducting reconaissance, and he died of pneumonia 2 weeks later. Considering that Jackson and Lee had spent months in winter quarters only a few miles away, it is strange that neither Lee nor Jackson were well-informed about the terrain of this battlefield, and that Jackson even needed to conduct reconnaissance, let alone in the dark.
When Lee advanced into Pennsylvania in June, Hooker followed him closely until Washington refused his request for additional troops. Sensing his superiors' distrust, he resigned his command on 28 June 1864 on the eve of battle of Gettysburg. Three months later Hooker was sent by rail in command of the 20th corps of the Army of the Potomac to help relieve General George H. Thomas, besieged at Chattanooga, Tenn. On 24 Nov. 1863, he won the "Battle Above the Clouds" on Lookout Mountain. On Nov. 25 he was instrumental in undermining Braggs left flank on Missionary Ridge, thus clearing the way for Thomas's triumphant charge up the middle of Missionary Ridge. On 24 Jan. 1864 he was voted the Thanks of Congress for his "defense of Baltimore and Washington," one of only 15 general officers to receive this honor during the Civil War.
During the campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, and at the battle of Peachtree Creek (20 July 1864), Hooker performed very well. However, when McPherson was killed at the battle of Atlanta on 22 July 1864, Hooker's subordinate, Otis Howard, was named instead of Hooker to replace McPherson. Hooker still considered Howard to have been instrumental in bringing about his defeat at Chancellorsville and refused to served under Howard, and he resigned. He thereafter ceased to play any active part in the war, holding command of the Northern, Eastern, and Lake departments. He was brevetted major-general of the United States army in March 1865, and in consequence of disability put upon the retired list, with the full rank of major-general, in 1868. He died at Garden City, Long Island on 31 Oct. 1879.
Whatever his shortcomings as a commander, he took good care of his men. As Francis McKinney (Education in Violence, p. 357) writes: "Hooker never left a command without the troops showing signs of disapproval."
I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispensable, quality.
You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite
of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship....And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
Gordon Granger was born of Gaius and Catherine Granger in Joy, New York on 6 Nov. 1822. After graduating from West Point in 1845 (35th out of 41), he fought in the Mexican War under Winfield Scott and earned two brevets. He then served on the frontier and promoted to first lieutenant in 1852. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was promoted to captain and fought at Wilson's Creek, Missouri in August 1861. Afterward he was promoted to colonel and in March 1862 to brigadier general. He commanded the cavalry in the campaign against New Madrid and Island No. 10, and in Halleck's advance on Corinth. In September 1862 he was appointed major general and held independant command in Kentucky for nearly a year. At Chickamauga, Tennessee, in September 1863 he commanded the reserve corps, sometimes called the Army of Kentucky, under William S. Rosecrans. Granger's reinforcement of Thomas on Snodgrass Hill the afternoon of 20 Sept. 1863 saved the Union forces from disaster. Although he engaged in other battles around Chattanooga, helped in the relief of Knoxville, and took part in the capture of Mobile, his abrasive personality had got him on the wrong side of Grant who hindered Granger's further advancement. He is described as having been "outspoken and rough in manner, kindly and sympathetic at heart...[His] independence occasionally came near to insubordination, and at odrinary times he lacked energy." He is also described as being unpopular with his troops because of his draconian discipline. In any case, he was another "difficult" person from whom Thomas was able to get good work, along with Hooker, Baldy Smith, and Jeff C. Davis.
Granger assumed command of the Department of Texas on 10 June 1865 under Sheridan, then commander of the Military Division of the Southwest. Upon his arrival in Galveston he declared that the institution of slavery was dead, setting off joyful displays by Texas freedmen. He instituted a punitive policicy against former Confederate officials and counseled blacks to remain on the plantations and to sign labor agreements with their former owners while awaiting further assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau which had not yet been established in the state. After six weeks of apparently upsetting too many apple carts, he was relieved of his command.
In 1869 Granger married Maria Letcher, daughter of a Lexington,
Kentucky, physician. His most important assignment after leaving Texas
was to command the District of New Mexico (1871-76). He resided in
Santa Fe until his death,
on 10 January 1876.
USMA 1855 (28/34); Infantry. After Indian fighting (1 wound, 1
brevet) he taught tactics at West Point 21 Feb. - 18 Sept. 1861.
Commissioned Col. 41st Ohio 29 Oct. 1861, after having been promoted
1st Lt. 1 April and Captain
14 May 1861. During the operations in Kentucky he commanded his
at the 19th Brig., Army of the Ohio (Dec. 61- Jan. 62). At Shiloh and
the advance upon Corinth he led 19th Brigade, 4th Division (3 Jan. - 2
1862) and also commanded these troops (10 July-29 Sept. 1862) while
repairs on the Nashville & Decatur R.R., and as commanding offercer
Murfreesboro. At Perryville he commanded the same brigade, now in the
Corps (Sept. - Nov. 1862) and was promoted B.G. USV 29 Nov. 1862. He
2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Left Wing, XIV Cumberland (5 Nov. 62-9 Jan.
at Murfreesboro (Stones River) and then commanded 2,2,XXI (9 Jan. - 3
and 13 Sept.-9 Oct. 1863) at Chickamauga. In the battles around
and at Missionary Ridge he commanded 2,3, IV (10 Oct. 1863-17 March
At Chattanooga he led the force which floated down the Tennessee River
the night of 27 Oct. 1863 which took Brown's Ferry. He also led this
at Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Cassville, Pickett's Mills,
Mountain, Chattahoochee, Peach Tree Creek, and Atlanta (17 April-17
1864). He next commanded 2nd Division, XV, Tenn. (17 Aug. 64-18 May
at Jonesboro, East Point, on the March to the Sea, and in the
Maj. Gen. USV 13 Dec. 1864. From 23 May to 1 Aug. 1865 he commanded the
Corps. Continuing in the R.A. as Col. 28th Inf., then 6th Inf. (1869),
was prominent in frontier affairs. In 1870 he was an observer with the
armies fighting France. In 1880 he became B.G. USA, Chief Signal
and head of the Weather Bureau. A.G. Greely's ill-fated arctic
1881-84, thus was under Hazen's command, and he got a presidential
for bitter criticism of War Sec. Robert Lincoln for failure to
timely rescue efforts. Experts and the public sided with Hazen, so the
(headed by Gen. Hancock) did not harm Hazen's career. He died in office
age 56. See Warner, Generals in Blue.
"The highest ambition of a commander must be satisfied by being associated with such men [volunteers], who, through patriotism and a love for the free institutions of their country, have attained a degree of efficiency which professional soldiers seldom, if ever, reach."
He was born on 19 Nov. 1810 in Braunsberg, Prussia as August von Willich. His father was of the landed nobility (Junker) and was a veteran of the Napoleonic wars. After his father's death Willich was raised in Berlin at the home of the eminent German philosopher and theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher. Under the philosopher's tutelage, Willich was exposed to the work of Kant, Feuerbach, and, most notably, Hegel. It was from Hegel that Willich inherited his faith in "Bildung", an uplifting of the human spirit through education. At 12 years of age he entered the cadet house of Pottsdam and, at fifteen, the military academy in Berlin Upon graduation in 1828 he was commissioned second lieutenant in the royal artillery. However, Willich believed that democratic self-government, constitutional freedoms, education, a commitment to social reforms and the uplifting of the laboring classes would solve the problems of his day. Such sentiments blighted his military career, and he had to wait 13 years for promotion to captain. Five years after that he attempted to resign from the military and was instead transferred to a bleak and isolated outpost in Pomerania. He finally submitted a letter of resignation which was deemed insulting to the Prussian king, and in 1846 he was court-martialled, acquitted, and removed from the army. In 1847, Willich went to Cologne and found work as a carpenter's assistant. After becoming involved in several democratic workers' associations, Willich participated in demonstrations in the city in March of 1848 and eventually headed a unit of Hecker's revolutionary army at Heidelberg. Willich's volunteers described themselves as the Workers' Legion and were inspired by the example of their commander who shared their poverty, took no privilege, and did not shirk difficult manual labor. He led a Free Corps in the Baden uprising of 1849 in which Sigel and Schurz also fought on the side of the republicans. When the revolutions failed he fled to Switzerland and then England where he immersed himself in Communist politics. In 1850, when the League of Communists split, he opposed Marx and Engels who scorned him as a humanist and "boring ideologist". Marx mockingly called Willich "Der Ritter vom edelmuthigen Bewusstsein" (The Knight of Noble Consciousness). In 1853 Willich emigrated to the USA. At first he worked as a carpenter in a Brooklyn shipyard, then he did coastal survey work. Although he had arrived penniless, by 1858 he was a respected member of the German community of Cincinatti and the editor of the Deutscher Republikaner, a publication of the Social Workingmen's Club. In this capacity he used the social events of the day to discuss human nature, history, religion, and the future of freedom. Willich opposed slavery and equated republicanism with freedom and the development and dignity of man in equal, cooperative association with his fellows. This earned him the nickname “Reddest of the Red.” At the outbreak of the Civil War he quickly raised a German unit and enlisted as a private, but his commander Robert McCook immediately promoted him to major (13 June 1861) and put him in charge of regimental training. Willich drilled his troops in sharp Prussian form, addressed them as citizens of the republic, and earned their respect by sharing their privations and taking the lead when the fighting was heaviest. After a short service with the 9th in western Virginia, Governor Oliver P. Morton commissioned Willich colonel of Indiana’s German regiment, the 32nd Indiana, 24 Aug. 1861. He thereafter served most of the war in the Army of the Cumberland. He earned the reputation of disciplinarian and directed his commands by Prussian bugle calls on the parade ground and battlefield. Willich distinguished himself at Shiloh and the advance on Corinth, subsequently being named brigadier general on 17 July 1862. In command of a brigade at Murfreesboro, he was captured on the first day when his horse was shot from under him. He was exchanged in May 1863 and commanded at Liberty Gap during the Tullahoma campaign. On this occasion he demonstrated that he was also an innovater, instituting the tactic of the "Viererkette" (chain of four) which consisted of advancing his troups in four rows, one of which was always firing. He commanded a brigade of Alexander McD. McCook’s XX Corps at Chickamauga and did excellent work on the first day, contributing to stopping the Confederate drive to capture Lafayett Rd., the main route back to Chattanooga. At the battle of Chattanooga on 25 Nov. 1863 he led the brigade which was the first to pierce the Confederate defenses at the top of Missionary Ridge. In Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, he was severely wounded at Resaca by a rifle ball in the shoulder and forced to give up field duty. Following his recovery, he served until the end of the war in command of the combined posts of Cincinnati, Covington, Kentucky, and Newport Barracks, Kentucky. Willich was brevetted major general on 21 Oct. 1865, was mustered out of the service on 15 Jan. 1866, and served three years as county auditor in Cincinnati. He returned to Germany 1869 and offered his services to Prussia during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), but was turned down, perhaps because of his age. After studying at the University of Berlin, he returned to Ohio in 1871, speaking at patriotic meetings and engaging himself politically. Willich died on 22 Jan.1878 in St. Mary's, Ohio. He is buried there in Elmwood Cemetery. Throughout his life, in roles ranging from soldier to philosopher, from carpenter to editor, he acted as a champion of the human spirit, inspiring others through his passion, dedication and example.
Peter Joseph Osterhaus was Born January 4, 1823 in Coblenz, Prussia.
graduating from military school in Berlin and serving in the infantry,
the U.S. in 1848 and became a merchant and bookkeeper in Missouri. He was commissioned Major, Battalion of Missouri Infantry on April 27, 1861, and fought at
Wilson's Creek. He was commissioned Colonel, 12th Missouri on December 19 of the same year. At Pea Ridge he commanded 2nd Brigade, Army Southwest Missouri. Appointed Brig. Gen. USV on June 9, 1862, he next commanded the 3rd division, Army Southwest Missouri (May-Dec 1862) and 1st Brigade, 1st Division, District of East Arkansas (Dec 1862). During the Vicksburg campaign he commanded the 9th Division / XII Corps / Tennessee and was wounded at the Big Black River. At Missionary Ridge he commanded the 1st Division / XV Corps / Tennessee and was named Maj. Gen. USV on July 23, 1864. He led the XV Corps / Tennessee in the March to the Sea and Carolinas campaign and was mustered out in 1866. From 1866 until 1877 he was Consul to France and then served as Vice- and deputy-consul at Mannheim, Germany, 1898 to 1900. Osterhaus died January 2, 1917 in Duisburg, Germany.
One of numerous Europeans to flee the continent in the
aftermath of the 1848 uprisings and end up in the Union army,
Peter J. Osterhaus was one of the best
of the volunteer generals to serve in the Western Campaign and the most distinguished of the Union's many German American officers.
Born January 4, 1823 in Koblenz, Westphalia into an upper class family, he attended university where he received a liberal education and developed a
strong attachment for democratic government. After leaving the university he enlisted in the Prussian Army and served one year in the elite Jaeger rifles. His father, a prominent architect arranged for him to establish a mercantile firm in Mannheim after completing his initial military service, but he continued in the military reserves eventually earning an officers commission. Although he had married Mathilda Born in 1847, he joined the revolutionary forces opposing Prussian imperialism during the uprising of 1848. Appointed commander of revolutionary troops at Mannheim, he was not engaged in the fighting that raged in the southern part of Germany. After the conflict ended in defeat for the democratic forces, he fled into France and ultimately immigrated to the United States with a group of like-minded ex-revolutionaries. He settled in Bellville, Illinois, and there on May 1, 1850 opened a general store at 150 Main Street. His general store proving to be a commercial success, he sold it and used the proceeds to purchase property in nearby Lebanon where he was later appointed Postmaster. Active in politics, he made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. He supported Fremont who ran for President in 1856 on the first Republican ticket. When Buchannan defeated Fremont, he lost his position as Postmaster on March 11, 1857, and soon thereafter his business failed as part of the financial depression gripping the West.
In 1860, he moved his family which now consisted of a wife and two children to St. Louis and accepted a position as a clerk in a local hardware store. His military background and political involvement with the pro-union, anti-slavery element in St. Louis led to his selection to train Dr. Adam Hammer's medical students in the military arts following the organization of the Confederacy. He later enlisted in the 2nd Missouri at the outbreak of hostilities and was elected Captain of Company B on April 24, 1861. Captain Osterhaus on May 10th led his company during the capture of the pro southern Missouri State Militia at Camp Jackson, St. Louis. In June, as part of Colonel Boernstein's 2nd Missouri, he participated in Lyon's movement on Jefferson City and later in action at Boonville where he was appointed acting battalion commander of Companies A and B which consisted of German American troops from Bellville. He was promoted to the rank of Major in June and led his battalion to Springfield, Missouri as part of General Lyon's Army. Major Osterhaus first distinguished himself in battle in August at Wilson's Creek where his coolness under fire impressed both his men and superior officers. After the death of General Lyon, the Union forces returned to St. Louis to reorganize for the long campaign ahead.
On the recommendation of General Fremont, he was appointed
of the newly formed 12th Missouri Regiment, one of several composed of
Americans from St. Louis and surrounding communities. In September
he moved his regiment to Jefferson City where it joined General Fremont
was preparing his Army of the West for a return to rebel
southwest Missouri. Osterhaus was promptly assigned to Colonel
Sigel's 3rd Division. Colonel Sigel, like Osterhaus had participated in
1848 Revolution. Sigel recognized his leadership ability and quickly
him to commander of the 2nd Brigade which was made up of the
American 3rd, 12th, 17th Missouri and the 44th Illinois regiments. When
returned to St. Louis on sick leave, he was appointed acting division
Before General Fremont could engage the rebels, he was
by General Curtis who led his forces into Arkansas where they met the
army at Pea Ridge. During the three days of fighting Osterhaus
led his division in three separate actions that helped turn the
in favor of the Union forces. After several months delay , he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on June 9, 1862. For the remainder of the year, he took part in General Curtis' operations in Arkansas. While on garrison duty at Helena was attached to Major General McClernand's XIII Corps and given command of the 9th Division. This was the only time he would not command the German American regiments from St. Louis. During this time the German Brigade comprised of the 3rd, 12th and 17th Missouri was under the command of General Frederick Steele.
Osterhaus first operation while commanding the 9th Division was with the XIII and XV Corps as part of McClernand's short lived Army of the Mississippi. In January 1863 His division landed on the muddy banks of the Mississippi at Arkansas Post and marched all night through the swamps in order to approach the rebel fortress known as Fort Hindman from the less well defended land ward side. He skillfully maneuvered his division through the difficult terrain at Arkansas Post, established his artillery for maximum effect on the fortress and led his men into position for a final assault. The rebels sensing defeat surrendered Fort Hindman and its five thousand man garrison. Later that month, he joined Grant's army assembling at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana for the campaign against Vicksburg. In May leading his division toward Vicksburg, he was wounded at Big Black River Bridge but returned to duty two days later. He then served through the balance of the siege of Vicksburg with the 9th Division and in July took part in the capture of Jackson, Mississippi while in pursuit of Confederate General Johnson's army. In the midst of the Vicksburg Campaign, his beloved wife Mathilda died unexpectedly. He was assigned to the 1st Division, Army of the Tennessee under Sherman in September 1863. This assignment reunited him with the German American regiments from St. Louis.
Shortly after joining the 1st Division, President Lincoln ordered Grant to move all available Union forces to the relief of Chattanooga. While leading Sherman's movement toward Chattanooga, his troops skirmished constantly with cavalry forces under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. At one encounter near Cane Creek his troops severely wounded Forrest and broke the rebel resistance impeding Sherman's advance. During the disposition of troops around Chattanooga, the 1st Division was separated from Sherman's column when a pontoon bridge gave way, so his division was attached to Hooker's XX Corps which had recently arrived from the East. He led Hooker's column during the assault on Missionary Ridge breaking through at Rossville Gap. His rapid flanking movement caused General Bragg to order his army to retreat into Georgia. His troops vigorously pursued Bragg as he fled into Georgia and fought a bloody encounter at Ringgold. The following year his division played a prominent part in the North Georgia Campaign. In the midst of the Atlanta Campaign he became ill and while on sick leave was promoted to major general. Returning to duty with Sherman's Army of the Tennessee at Atlanta, he was promoted to Major General on August 4, 1864. In spite of reoccurring illness he went on, with some absences, to march to the sea with Sherman in command of the XV Corps. After Savannah's capitulation, he participated in the early stages of the Carolinas Campaign but upon return of Major General Logan from leave, he was soon sent to the Gulf coast as Canby's chief of staff during the operations against Mobile. After the conclusion of hostilities, he was ordered by Major General Canby to take charge of the military district of Mississippi, head quartered at Jackson and later at Vicksburg until January 1866 when he mustered out at St. Louis, Missouri.
His assignments included: Major, Osterhaus' Missouri Battalion
1861); Colonel, 12th Missouri (December 19, 1861); commanding 2nd
Army of Southwest Missouri, Department of the Missouri
commanding 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Southwest Missouri,
of the Missouri (February-March 11, 1862); temporarily commanding
division (March 6-8, 1862); commanding 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Army
Southwest Missouri, Department of the Mississippi (March 11 May
commanding 3rd Division, Army of Southwest Missouri, Department
the Mississippi (May-September 19, 1862); Brigadier General, USV
9, 1862); commanding 3rd Brigade, Army of Southwest Missouri,
of the Missouri (September 19-December 1862); 1st Brigade, 1st
District of Eastern Arkansas, Department of the Missouri (December
commanding 9th Division, 13th Corps, Army of the Tennessee (January
17 and May 19-July 28, 1863); commanding 1st Division, 15th
Army of the Tennessee (September 1, 1863-January 4, 1864,
6-July 15, and August 19 September 23, 1864); Major General, USV
23, 1864); commanding the XV Corps (September 23, 1864-January 8,
and chief of staff, Military Division of West Mississippi
-May 27, 1865); commander, military department of
Mississippi (May-January 15, 1866).
Mustered out on January 15, 1866, he returned to St. Louis where he was reunited with his children who were in the care of his sister-in-law, Amelia Born. They were married later that year. He was appointed U.S. Counsel at Lyon, France on June 18, 1866 serving in that capacity until 1879. In 1880 he returned to Germany with his wife where he was engaged in business at Mannheim, Germany. He was again widowed when his wife Amelia became ill and died in 1996. He was appointed U. S. Counsel at Mannheim on March 16, 1898 and served in that capacity until his retirement from government service on November 8, 1900. During his time in Germany, he returned to the United States frequently to visit his sons and daughter who remained in the United States.
During his retirement, he was often remembered for his service to
country and was made an honorary citizen of Bellville, Illinois on July
1904. On February 24, 1905 the United States Senate awarded him
rank of Brigadier General on the retired list with full pay and
due his rank. On May 14, 1906 he returned from Europe to
in St. Louis where he lived for several years. He returned to
and celebrated his 90th birthday on January 6, 1913 at Duisburg.
was again advanced in rank by an act of Congress elevating him to the
rank on the retired list of Major General in 1916. He was still
a pension while living in Duisburg a few months before the United
entered World War 1. He died at age 93 on December 31, 1916 and was
in Duisburg. He was survived by his sons Hugo W., Alexander,
R., his daughter and their 30 grandchildren and great
He was the last surviving major general to have served in the Union
during the Civil War. Several of his descendants followed in his
tradition and had distinguished
military records while serving in the United States Armed Forces. His grandson Hugo W. was an Admiral in the United States Navy.
Copyright (c) 2001 Philip R. Hinderberger
He was born at the Catskill Mountain settlement of Hunter in Greene County, New York on 31 January 1830 and grew to be a tall (6 feet 2 inches) and powerful man who neither drank alcohol nor smoked or chewed tobacco. In 1849, at the age of 19, John Wilder moved to Columbus, Ohio, and was hired as an apprentice in a foundry. Turning down an offer of ownership in the Columbus foundry, Wilder moved to Greensburg, Indiana, in 1857 to start his own foundry and millwright business. In four years Wilder became a nationally recognized expert in hydraulics, and his business employed 100 people in five states. When the Civil War erupted Wilder immediately cast two six-pound cannons and raised a unit of men. Governor Oliver P. Morton appointed Wilder lieutenant colonel of the 17th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on 4 June 1861. Under Gen. J.J. Reynolds his unit took part in the battles of Cheat Mountain and Greenbriar in West Virginia. On 8 April 1862, the 17th arrived too late for the battle at Shiloh, Tennessee, but was involved in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi. On 14-17 Sept. 1862 at the crucial railroad junction in Munfordville, Ky. Wilder's outnumbered brigade held up a large part of Bragg's army under Buckner and thus helped Buell beat Bragg to Louisville. Wilder surrendered, but was later exchanged. Wilder then unsuccessfully pursued Confederate cavalry general John Hunt Morgan, and thus missed the battle of Murfreesboro. As a result of this experience Wilder sought permission to provide horses for his infantry. Permission was granted and Wilder impressed horses in Middle Tennesse while disabling grist mills. He planned to use the horses for purposes of transport, and then the men would fight on foot. Gradually good horses displaced inferior ones so that, eventually, the mounts were equal to those of the brigades of regular cavalry. It was a complete unit, building its own wagons and shoeing its own horses. Each man carried a hatchet with a two foot handle and, for that reason, was first called the "Hatchet Brigade." Wilder trained his men to fight from behind cover, and in the spring of 1863 he also equipped his men with Spencer, seven shot, repeating rifles. To circumvent bureaucratic government policy, the $35 rifles were to be paid for with money each man was to borrow from a Geensburg, Indiana, bank. The brigade fought with distinction at Hoover's Gap, Tennessee where his mounted infantry was instrumental in securing the gap and outflanking Hardee's corps, thus forcing Bragg's eventual withdrawal to Chattanooga and earning the sobriquet "Lightning Brigade,” at first in Confederate reports. He thus laid the foundations for Wilson's cavalry raid to Selma at the end of the war. During Rosecrans's approach to Chattanooga Wilder surprised the Confederates by shelling the town as part of a diversion from Rosecrans's actual crossing downstream. At the battle of Chickamauga Wilder's Brigade saved the Union Army from almost certain destruction on two occasions. The first time was on 18 September 1863, at Alexander's Bridge. There the 17th Indiana, the 98th Illinois and two sections of Lilly's Battery along with Minty's Cavalry made a valiant stand to hold off an entire Confederate Army Corps under Cheatham. Their action prevented Rosecrans from being cut off from Chattanooga. Two days later his unit on the 20th his brigade was the only one on the Union right to not be driven from the field. While the rest of the right flank was fleeing to Chattanooga, the Lightning Brigade repulsed the charges of an entire Confederate infantry division, and then counter-attacked the Rebels. Wilder was, at that point, preparing to cut his way through to Thomas, but he was told by the panicked assistant Sec. of War Charles Dana that Rosecrans was either captured or killed, and he instructed Wilder to bring him back to Chattanooga. Wilder assigned some scouts to accompany Dana and slowly withdrew to Rossville, collecting material and stragglers. By retarding the begin of Longstreet's attacks on Thomas, the brigade on that day contributed to the success of Thomas' famous stand at Snodgrass Hill.* From that day forward, General Thomas would be known as "The Rock of Chicamauga." Wilder withdrew only the next morning and was thus the last commander to leave the field. From 1 to 10 October 1863 Wilder, under Gen. Crook, harried Wheeler's cavarly which was raiding middle Tennesee and, on 7 Oct. 63, Wilder defeated Wheeler at the battle of Farmington. He led the brigade during parts of the Atlanta campaign, and Thomas unsuccessfully tried to have him put in charge of the Union cavalry. On 7 August 1864, Wilder was brevetted brigadier general, but he was compelled to resign on 4 October because of recurring typhoid fever from which he had been suffering since the Corinth campaign. Other considerations were his dissatisfaction with the progress of his military career and the financial difficulties of his foundry back home. In 1866 Wilder moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee in search of a more healthful climate, and because of the business opportunies the area offered. He founded the Roane Iron Works in 1867, then built and operated two blast furnaces, the first in the south, at Rockwood, Tennessee. In 1870, he established a rail mill in Chattanooga. From 1890 to 1892, he was active in the promotion and construction of the Charleston, Cincinnati & Chicago Railroad. He briefly served as mayor, and then as postmaster of Chattanooga, pension agent at Knoxville, and as commissioner of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park. Wilder died while vacationing in Jacksonville, Florida on 20 October 1917, and was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga. At the Chickamauga battlefield there is a monument to him which consists of a white 85-foot tower. A spiral staircase leads to the top of the tower where visitors can view almost all of the field of battle.
* HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF
THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, November 27, 1863.
Brig. Gen. LORENZO THOMAS, Adjutant-General, U.S. Army:
GENERAL: Inclosed herewith I have the honor to transmit the report of Col. John T. Wilder, Seventeenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, commanding brigade of mounted infantry, of the operations of his brigade in co-operation with the main portion of the Army of the Cumberland before and after the evacuation of Chattanooga by the rebel army, including the battle of Chickamauga, and up to the time of the assembling of the army at Chattanooga.
For his ingenuity and fertility of resource in occupying the attention of an entire corps of the rebel army while our army was getting around its flank, and for his valor and the many qualities of a commander displayed by him in the numerous engagements of his brigade with the enemy before and during the battle of Chickamauga, and for the excellent service rendered by him generally, I would respectfully recommend him to the President of the United States for an appointment as brigadier-general.(*).
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, Commanding.
He was born on 17 February 1824 in St. Albans VT. He graduated
West Point 1845 and was asssigned duty as a topographical engineer. War
July 1861 Col. of 3rd Vermont, August 1861 appointed Brig. Gen. of
commanded 2nd Divn/IV Corps in Peninsula campaign, commanded 2nd
Corps in Seven Days, July 1862 promoted Maj. Gen. of Volunteers, South
Antietam, commanded VI Corps at Fredericksburg, promotion not confirmed
the Senate, served in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, chief engineer of
of the Cumberland, organised defences of Chattanooga, March 1864
Maj. Gen. of Volunteers, commanded XVIII Corps in Virginia and North
Petersburg, relieved of field command After the war he was an engineer
the army service and resigned in 1867. He became president of a
company, president of board of police commissioners, government
and writer. An ardent critic of other people, he did have considerable
and technical abilities. He died on 28 February 1903 in Philadelphia PA
is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
He was born on 2 September 1837 in Shawneetown IL He graduated
Point in 1860 and became assistant topographic engineer in the
Department of the Oregon. War Service: September 1861 chief topographic
engineer Port Royal expedition, Fort Pulaski, aide-de-camp to General
McClellan during Maryland
campaign, South Mountain, Antietam, Lt. Col. on Grant's staff in Dept.
the West, inspector general Army of Tennessee during Vicksburg
October 1863 appointed Brig. Gen. of Volunteers, Chattanooga, chief
of Knoxville relief force, assigned chief of cavalry bureau in
commanded 3rd Divn/Cavalry Corps for Richmond campaign, Petersburg,
Valley, chief of cavalry Military District of the Mississippi,
trained and commanded the corps of cavalry that destroyed Hood's Army
Franklin and Nashville in late 1864, Selma, May 1865 promoted Maj. Gen.
Volunteers. After the war he served in the infantry and the engineers
discharged in 1870 at his own request. He then became a writer,
manager, and served as Maj. Gen. of Volunteers in Puerto Rico and Cuba
Spanish-American War, and in Boxer Rebellion in China. He the US
to Edward VII's coronation. He was probably the most distinguished of
"boy generals". He was the only officer promoted to troop command from
regular staff. He died on 23 February 1925 in Wilmington DE.
Yankee blitzkrieg : Wilson's raid through Alabama and Georgia
Edward G Longacre From Union stars to top hat; a biography of the extraordinary General James Harrison Wilson
He was born on 19 Nov. 1831 near Orange [in Cuyahoga county], Ohio,
He was the 20th president of the United States (4 March - 19 Sept.
who had the second shortest tenure in presidential history. When he was
and incapacitated, serious constitutional questions arose concerning
should properly perform the functions of the presidency. Garfield was
son of Abram Garfield and Eliza Ballou, who continued to run the
family's impoverished Ohio farm after her husband's death in 1833. The
last president born in a log cabin,Garfield dreamed of foreign ports of
call as a sailor but instead worked for a time on a boat on the Ohio
Canal between Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Always
studious, he attended Western Reserve
Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) at Hiram, Ohio, and graduated
1856 from Williams College. He returned to the Eclectic Institute as a
of ancient languages and in 1857, at age 25, became the school's
A year later he married Lucretia Rudolph and began a family that
seven children (two died in infancy). Garfield also studied law and was
as a minister in the Disciples of Christ church, but he soon turned to
An advocate of free-soil principles, he became a supporter of the newly
Republican Party and in 1859 was elected to the Ohio legislature.
the Civil War he helped recruit the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and
its colonel. After commanding a brigade at the Battle of Shiloh (April
he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and while waiting
Congress to begin its session, he served as chief of staff in the Army
the Cumberland, winning promotion to major general after distinguishing
at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 1863). He was among the
who elected to stay with Thomas at Snodgrass Hill rather than retreat
into Chattanooga, although it should be mentioned that he, through his
communication with Chase in Washington, was instrumental in
the pressure on Rosecrans to pursue Bragg into Georgia, unwisely as it
out. It was about that time that Garfield had an extramarital affair
a Lucia Calhoun in New York City. He later admitted the indiscretion
was forgiven by his wife. Historians believe that the many letters he
written to Calhoun, which are referred to in his diary, were retrieved
Garfield and destroyed. For nine terms, until 1880, Garfield
Ohio's 19th congressional district. As chairman of the House Committee
Appropriations, he became an expert on fiscal matters and advocated a
protective tariff; as a Radical Republican, he sought a firm policy of
for the South. In 1880 the Ohio legislature elected him to the U.S.
At the Republican presidential convention the same year in Chicago, the
delegates were divided into three principal camps: the "Stalwarts"
by powerful New York Senator Roscoe Conkling), who backed former
president Ulysses S. Grant, the "Half-Breed" (moderate) supporters of
Maine Senator James G. Blaine, and those committed to Secretary of the
Treasury John Sherman.
Tall, bearded, affable, and eloquent, Garfield steered fellow Ohioan
campaign and impressed so many with his nominating speech that he, not
candidate, became the focus of attention. As the chairman of the Ohio
Garfield also led a coalition of anti-Grant delegates who succeeded in
the unit rule, by which a majority of delegates from a state could cast
state's entire vote. This victory added to Garfield's prominence and
Grant's candidacy. Grant led all other candidates for 35 ballots, but
to command a majority; and on the 36th ballot the nomination went to
dark horse Garfield who was still trying to remove his name from
as the bandwagon gathered speed. His Democratic opponent in
was General Winfield Scott Hancock, like Garfield a Civil War veteran,
both could wrap themselves in the symbolic "bloody shirt" of the Union.
Garfield also capitalized on his rags-to-riches background, and along
a campaign biography literally written by Horatio Alger, he reached
to his humble beginnings as a "canal boy" for the slogan "From the tow
to the White House." ("No man ever started so low that accomplished so
in all our history," said former president Rutherford B. Hayes of
He was "the ideal self-made man.") In an era when it was still
unseemly for a candidate to court voters actively, Garfield, aided by
(who remained an important adviser), conducted the first "front porch"
from his home in Mentor, Ohio, where reporters and voters came to hear
speak. Notwithstanding allegations of involvement in the Crédit
Mobilier Scandal, in which Garfield had received $329 from stock in the
(a remuneration which Democrats characterized as a bribe and played up
a campaign issue by plastering walls, sidewalks, and placards with
and a forged letter that supposedly revealed Garfield's advocacy of
Chinese immigration, he defeated Hancock (as well as the third-party
candidate), though he won the popular election by fewer than 10,000
The vote in the electoral college was less close: 214 votes for
155 for Hancock. By the time of his election, Garfield had begun to see
rather than the ballot box as the best hope for improving the lives of
Americans. In his inaugural speech he said, "The elevation of the Negro
from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important
change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. No
man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions
people....It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a
which wronged and enfeebled both." Garfield tried to put together
cabinet that would appease all factions of the Republican Party, but,
by his secretary of state, Blaine, he eventually challenged Conkling's
patronage machine in New York. Instead of appointing one of Conkling's
friends as collector
of the Port of New York, Garfield chose a Blaine protégé,
the resignation of an outraged Conkling and strengthening the
and power of the presidency. So demanding were the office seekers and
pressures of the patronage system that at one point Garfield wondered
anyone would want to seek the presidency. "My God," he exclaimed, "what
there in this place that a man should ever want to get into it!" The
significant development of Garfield's short term of office, the Star
Scandal, involved the fraudulent dispersal of postal route contracts.
ahead regardless of where or whom you hit," Garfield told
direct you not only to probe this ulcer to the bottom, but to cut it
Despite such strong talk, Grant accused Garfield of having "the
an angleworm." On 2 July 1881, after only four months in office, while
his way to visit his ill wife in Elberon, New Jersey, Garfield was shot
the back at the railroad station in Washington, D.C., by Charles J.
a disappointed office seeker with messianic visions. Guiteau peaceably
to police, calmly announcing, "I am a Stalwart. [Chester A.] Arthur is
president of the United States." For 80 days the president lay ill and
only one official act - the signing of an extradition paper. It was
agreed that, in such cases, the vice president was empowered by the
to assume the powers and duties of the office of president. But should
serve merely as acting president until Garfield recovered, or would he
the office itself and thus displace his predecessor? Because of an
in the Constitution, opinion was divided, and, because Congress was not
session, the problem could not be debated there. On 2 September 1881,
matter came before a cabinet meeting, where it was finally agreed that
action would be taken without first consulting Garfield. But in the
of the doctors this was impossible, and no further action was taken
the death of the president, the result of slow blood poisoning, on 19
The public and the media were obsessed with this drawn-out passing of
president, leading historians to see in the brief Garfield
the seeds of an important aspect of the modern president: the chief
as celebrity and symbol of the nation. It is said that public mourning
Garfield was more extravagant than the grief displayed in the wake of
Abraham Lincoln's assassination, which is startling in light of the
roles these men played in American history. Garfield was buried beneath
quarter-million-dollar, 165-foot (50-metre) monument in Lake View