SELECTED BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Union Officers

Photo:  Irvin McDowell (Library of Congress)
Irvin McDowell (Library of Congress)

Irvin McDowell
1818–1885, Ohio
USMA 1838

After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, McDowell served with the 1st Artillery and then returned to the academy as the adjutant. During the Mexican War he was brevetted a captain for “gallant and meritorious conduct.” From then until the outbreak of the Civil War, McDowell was employed in various staff duties in Washington, New York, and Texas, being promoted to brevet major on 31 March 1856.

In 1861, at the urging of his close friend Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, McDowell was promoted three grades to brigadier general in the Regular Army and assigned commander of the newly organized army at Washington. Although he requested more time to prepare his force, McDowell was ordered to advance immediately against the Confederate force at Manassas Junction. In the ensuing Battle of First Bull Run (21 July 1861), he dashed around the field, trying personally to encourage his men. Although the morning phase of the battle saw the Confederates driven back, by afternoon the Southern forces had counterattacked and routed the Federal forces. Northern officials and the public blamed McDowell for the defeat, and he was relieved of army command.

Afterward appointed commander of a division, he was later promoted to major general of volunteers (14 March 1862) and assigned command of the I Corps, Army of the Potomac. Officials in Washington, fearing for the safety of the capital, retained McDowell’s command, redesignated it the Army of the Rappahannock, and placed it along that river. Subsequently, McDowell’s army was consolidated with troops in the

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Shenandoah Valley to create a force known as the Army of Virginia under Maj. Gen. John Pope. McDowell’s command was redesignated the III Corps.

The defeat at First Bull Run continued to haunt McDowell, and his officers and enlisted men generally disliked him. When he was injured in a riding accident in the summer of 1862, it was said that a portion of his command gave three cheers “for the horse that threw General McDowell.”

In the Battle of Second Bull Run (29–30 August 1862), the Army of Virginia was defeated and fell back into the defenses of Washington. Pope accused McDowell of not fully supporting him during the campaign, and McDowell was relieved of command. Although a court of inquiry found nothing to warrant a court-martial, a strong prejudice remained against McDowell in the public mind, and he held no further field command during the war. After commanding various military departments to 1882, McDowell retired from the service, with the rank of major general in the Regular Army.

Photo:  Ambrose E. Burnside (www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar)
Ambrose E. Burnside (www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar)

Ambrose E. Burnside
1824–1881, Indiana
USMA 1847

Following service in the Mexican and Indian wars, Burnside resigned his commission in 1853 to manufacture firearms in Bristol, Rhode Island. He later patented a breech-loading carbine and served as treasurer of the Illinois Central Railroad.

Burnside entered the Civil War as a colonel of the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry and commanded a brigade at the Battle of First Bull Run (21 July 1861), where his command led the flank march to Sudley Ford and struck the Confederates on Matthews’ Hill. The fight was severe and Burnside’s command, running low on ammunition, was given permission to withdraw and resupply. The brigade remained in reserve until joining the retreat to Washington.

In August 1861 Burnside was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and led a successful expedition against Confederate coastal instal-

 

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lations in North Carolina in January–March 1862. This military success gained him promotion to major general of volunteers and commanding general, IX Corps.

In August 1862 Burnside’s IX Corps began moving from the Carolinas to join Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia. While Burnside personally remained at Falmouth to forward arriving troops, the IX Corps, temporarily commanded by Maj. Gen. Jesse Reno, participated in the battles of Second Bull Run (29–30 August 1862) and Chantilly (1 September 1862). On 14 September 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commanding the Army of the Potomac, placed Burnside in command of the army’s “right wing,” comprising the IX and Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s I Corps. At Antietam (17 September 1862) the IX Corps (accompanied by Burnside) was placed on the left of the Union army, where it eventually crossed Antietam Creek at the lower bridge to assault the Confederate right flank. However, the timely arrival from Harper’s Ferry of Confederates under Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill drove Burnside and his command back to the bridge. In November, after President Abraham Lincoln grew weary of McClellan’s failure to pursue Lee aggressively, Burnside was offered command of the Army of the Potomac. He accepted the appointment on 7 November due only to the urging of his friends who did not want Hooker to have the position. After his defeat at Fredericksburg (13 December 1862), Burnside was relieved the following January and transferred to the western theater.

As commander of the Army of the Ohio (25 March–12 December 1863) Burnside succeeded in the capture of Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders and in the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee. In January 1864 he returned east to assume command again of the IX Corps and participated in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s overland campaign from Wilderness to Petersburg. When charges were made that Burnside mishandled troops during an attack at Petersburg, he was relieved of command and resigned from the Army.

After the war Burnside was successful in engineering and managerial work with several railroads; served as governor of Rhode Island in 1866, being twice reelected; and served as a U.S. senator from Rhode Island until his death.

Erasmus D. Keyes
1810–1895, Massachusetts
USMA 1832

After graduating from West Point, Keyes served briefly at posts in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. During 1844–1848 he

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Photo:  Erasmus Keyes (Library of Congress)
Erasmus Keyes (Library of Congress)

was assigned to West Point, becoming one of the few West Point–trained generals not to have participated in the Mexican War. Transferred west in 1849, Keyes was involved in suppressing Indian hostilities in California and Washington Territories until 1860, when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned as military secretary to Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott in Washington, D.C. In May 1861 Keyes was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and was in command of a brigade at the Battle of First Bull Run in July. During that battle Keyes’ command arrived on the Confederate right flank, but, after committing only half of his command to the attack, he fell back and fought no more that day.

In the spring of 1862 Keyes was appointed commander of the IV Corps, Army of the Potomac, and in May was promoted to major general of volunteers. After the Peninsula Campaign (June–July 1862), the IV Corps remained in the Yorktown area. In early 1863 Keyes’ conduct during a raid against a Confederate position was called into question, and he asked for an official investigation, which was refused. He was relieved of command in July and served on a retirement board until his resignation in April 1864. Keyes then set out for California where he spent the rest of his life in gold-mining ventures and the wine-growing business. He died in France in 1895 while on a European tour.

Daniel Tyler
1799–1882, Connecticut
USMA 1819

Tyler, the son of a Revolutionary War officer, had planned to attend Yale, but instead was appointed to West Point. After graduation, he served in New England and later at Fort Monroe, Virginia, where he translated the French artillery drill manual. In 1828 Tyler was sent to France to study French artillery tactics further and attended the artillery school at Metz. His assignment abroad resulted in his translation and publication of an artillery field manual in 1829.

When he was passed over for promotion, he resigned from the Army in 1834 and was involved in the iron-making industry, served as president

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Photo:  Daniel Tyler (The Photographic History of the Civil War [1911], vol. 10)
Daniel Tyler (The Photographic History of the Civil War [1911], vol. 10)

of a railroad and a banking company, and reorganized several railroad companies in Kentucky.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Tyler was commissioned a colonel of the 1st Connecticut Infantry in April 1861 and the following month was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded a division at the Battle of First Bull Run and afterward was transferred to the western theater, participating in the siege of Corinth in 1862. Tyler was placed in command of the garrison at Harper’s Ferry in early 1863 and later commanded the District of Delaware until 1864, when he resigned his commission at age 65.

After the war Tyler traveled extensively in Europe, returning to establish an iron-making company in Alabama in 1872. There, he founded the town of Anniston, named after his daughter-in-law. His remaining years were spent as president of the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad.

 

 

 

Confederate Officers

Pierre G. T. Beauregard
1818–1893, Louisiana
USMA 1838

Beauregard served as a second lieutenant of engineers at various military posts along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico after leaving West Point. During the Mexican War he was brevetted a captain and then a major. Until the outbreak of the Civil War, Beauregard spent most of his time in Louisiana superintending the construction of forts along the lower Mississippi. In 1858 he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New Orleans, and in 1861 he was appointed superintendent of West Point. After only four days at the academy Beauregard was relieved (possibly due to his outspoken sympathy for the South) and later resigned from the Army to accept a commission as brigadier general in the Confederate Army.

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Photo:  Pierre G. T. Beauregard (National Archives)
Pierre G. T. Beauregard (National Archives)

In April 1861 Beauregard commanded the successful Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and won overnight fame. Two months later he was assigned command of the Confederate army then being organized at Manassas Junction. Beauregard immediately prepared plans to capture Washington, but his constant bickering with Confederate President Jefferson Davis over reinforcements and his own grand strategy to win the war created tension between the army commander and the commander in chief.

On 21 July 1861, a Union army commanded by Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell approached Manassas and attacked Beauregard’s left flank. McDowell’s forces drove the Confederates to Henry Hill and a Union victory looked assured. At a critical moment, however, Confederate reinforcements arrived, struck the Union line, and sent the army in full retreat back to Washington. Beauregard, the “Hero of Sumter” and now of Manassas, was promoted to full general.

His career seemed on the upswing, but Beauregard soon allied himself with President Davis’ opponents and too often made public his distrust and disdain for the government. Continued arguments with Davis and other Southern commanders resulted in his transfer to the western theater in early 1862 as second in command to General Albert Sidney Johnston in the Army of the Mississippi. After Johnston was killed at Shiloh, Beauregard assumed command of the army. Relations between Beauregard and Davis continued to deteriorate, and Beauregard was transferred first to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and next to the Department of North Carolina and Virginia as commander. He served in the latter position until early 1865, when he was relieved and placed in command of the Department of the West as a figurehead.

After the war, Beauregard was offered commands in the Romanian and Egyptian armies but declined both. Instead, he returned to New Orleans where he played a prominent role in business, civil engineering, and political affairs; was president of two railroads; and was adjutant general of Louisiana for ten years.

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Joseph E. Johnston
1807–1891, Virginia
USMA 1829

Johnston’s father, Peter Johnston, had served in the American Revolution with Henry “Lighthouse” Lee (the father of Robert E. Lee), and both sons were classmates at West Point. Johnston served with distinction in the Seminole and Mexican wars, being wounded five times during the latter.

After the Mexican War he was chief of the topographical engineers in Texas and during 1855–1860 was assigned as a lieutenant colonel of the 1st Cavalry. Promoted to brigadier general, Johnston became Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army, a position he held until May 1861. Upon the secession of Virginia from the Union, he resigned his commission and became a brigadier general and soon after a general in the Confederate service.

Photo:  Joseph E. Johnston (www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar)
Joseph E. Johnston (www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar)

In July 1861 General Johnston, commanding the Army of the Shenandoah, eluded a Union force under Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley and rushed to reinforce Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Manassas Junction. Johnston assumed overall command but elected to allow Beauregard to command the Confederate forces actually engaged. Although the senior commander on the field, Johnston received less publicity for his role during the battle than the more colorful, self-promoting Beauregard.

In the spring of 1862 Johnston moved his army to the Peninsula, between the James and York rivers, when Union forces under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan landed at Fort Monroe. At the Battle of Fair Oaks (31 May 1862) he was twice wounded and carried from the field.

Johnston had recovered sufficiently by November to report for duty. By that time General Robert E. Lee was commanding Johnston’s forces, and he was assigned authority over the territory between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River. This authority was vague, with department heads reporting directly to Richmond rather than to Johnston.

 

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Believing he had fallen in disfavor with the Confederate President, Johnston asked to be relieved, but his request was denied

A year later Johnston was assigned command of the Army of Tennessee and held that post until July 1864, when his plan of strategic withdrawal from Atlanta so displeased Davis that Johnston was relieved. He saw no more active service until he returned to duty in February 1865 to oppose Sherman’s march north. After his surrender to Sherman on 26 April 1865, Johnston went into retirement until 1879, when he was elected to the U.S. Congress and later served as U.S. commissioner of railroads.

Photo:  Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (Library of Congress)
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (Library of Congress)

Thomas J. Jackson
1824–1863, Virginia
USMA 1846

Having received the brevets of captain and major during the Mexican War, Jackson resigned his commission in 1852 to become an instructor at the Virginia Military Institute. At the beginning of the Civil War he was appointed first to the rank of colonel, then brigadier general. Early on the morning of 21 July 1861 Jackson commanded a brigade of Virginians near Manassas Junction on the Confederate right flank. When the Union assault struck the Confederate left, Jackson marched toward the fighting and placed his command on Henry Hill, where his brigade stood firm and served as a rallying point for others. It was there that he and his brigade earned the sobriquet “Stonewall.” Afterward, Jackson was promoted to major general.

In November Jackson was sent to the Shenandoah Valley, where the following year he waged what became known as the Valley Campaign against three Federal armies (May–June 1862). After defeating his adversaries and forcing the Federal government in Washington to delay reinforcements to the Union army then threatening Richmond, Jackson joined Confederate forces in the Seven Days’ Battles (25 June–1 July 1862). In late August Jackson’s lightning-like turning movement against Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia was a crucial factor in the victory that followed at Second Bull Run (29–30 August 1862).

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In the Maryland campaign Jackson captured the Federal garrison at Harper’s Ferry before rejoining Lee at Sharpsburg in the Battle of Antietam (17 September 1862). In October Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia, and Jackson was promoted to lieutenant general and was appointed commander of the II Corps. He commanded the right wing in the Confederate victory at Fredericksburg (13 December 1862), and his career reached its high point in the famous flank march around the Union army at Chancellorsville (1–4 May 1863). However, on 2 May 1863, Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men and died on 10 May.

Photo:  Nathan G. Evans (Massachusetts Commandery Military Order of the Loyal Legion and U.S. Army Military History Institute)
Nathan G. Evans (Massachusetts Commandery Military Order of the Loyal Legion and U.S. Army Military History Institute)

Nathan G. Evans
1824–1868, South Carolina
USMA 1848

Known as Shanks because of his long, skinny legs, Evans served his pre–Civil War years in the Army on the frontier fighting hostile Indian tribes. In February 1861 he resigned to accept a major’s commission with the military forces of South Carolina. After the surrender of Fort Sumter in April, Evans accepted a captain’s commission in the Confederate cavalry and was shortly thereafter promoted to lieutenant colonel and later colonel. He was assigned command of an infantry brigade in Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac. In camp and field Evans had an attachment to strong drink, often keeping an aide nearby with a small keg of whiskey, which Evans referred to as his “barreletta.”

At the Battle of First Bull Run Evans’ small brigade was placed on the Confederate left and was able to hold off the Union’s flank attack long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Although his command was eventually forced to fall back, his delaying tactic allowed the Confederates time to shift additional forces from Manassas to the battlefield, which resulted in a Confederate victory.

In October 1861, while his brigade was stationed near Leesburg, Virginia, Evans’ forces defeated a Union attempt to cross the Potomac River in a fight called the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. The action resulted in his promotion to brigadier general.

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Evans went on to participate in the 1862 battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain, and Antietam and in November was transferred to Kinston, North Carolina. After he retreated in the face of a superior Union force, Evans was tried for intoxication and acquitted. Later, when charges of disobedience of orders were made against him, Evans was again acquitted. He was then relieved of command, and, although later reinstated, the remainder of his military career was obscure. Throughout 1863 Evans served in various military positions in Mississippi and Georgia and in the spring of 1864 transferred to South Carolina. Following the war, Evans settled in Alabama, where he became a high school principal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last updated 13 July 2006