SELECTED BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Union Officers

Photo:  George B. McClellan

George B. McClellan

George B. McClellan
1826-1885, Pennsylvania

McClellan was born in Philadelphia to a family that moved within the upper ranks of local society. He attended private schools before entering West Point where in 1846 he graduated second in a class of fifty-nine. Assigned to the Corps of Engineers, McClellan participated in the Mexican War, where he was awarded brevets of 1st lieutenant and captain. After the war he served briefly as an instructor at West Point. As a member of a board of officers, McClellan went abroad to observe the Crimean War and study European armies.

In 1857 McClellan resigned his army commission to become chief engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. Five years later, when the Civil War broke out, he was president of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad. McClellan entered the war as a major general of volunteers and was soon commissioned with the same rank in the Regular Army. His success in a minor victory at Rich Mountain, West Virginia, just ten days before the Union disaster at First Bull Run, brought him to the public eye at a critical time. He was assigned command of the army at Washington (later known as the Army of the Potomac) and in November became general in chief of the Army, replacing Winfield Scott.

In the spring of 1862 the "Young Napoleon" took the Army of the Potomac by water to the Virginia Peninsula to capture Richmond. His departure as field commander resulted in his being relieved of command as general in chief on 11 March. Dur-

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ing the Peninsula Campaign McClellan greatly overestimated the number of Confederates defending their capital and constantly asked the government for additional men in order to advance. Unable to provide the thousands of men requested, the War Department in early August ordered McClellan to withdraw his army from the peninsula. The Army of the Potomac was to unite with the Army of Virginia under Maj. Gen. John Pope. In late August, however, before all of McClellan's forces could join with Pope, the Army of Virginia was defeated at Second Bull Run. The remnants of Pope's command were then consolidated with the Army of the Potomac.

In early September Lee crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, and McClellan was tasked with leading the reorganized Army of the Potomac north. He confronted the Confederates along Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg. On 17 September the two armies fought to a draw in the Battle of Antietam, and two days later Lee withdrew back to Virginia. McClellan failed to pursue the Confederates and remained on the battlefield until early November, reorganizing his command and requesting reinforcements. This delay prompted his dismissal as army commander; although he still retained his commission as major general, he held no further command during the war. After running unsuccessfully for president in 1864 (and resigning his commission on Election Day), McClellan and his family sailed to Europe, not returning for three-and-a-half years. McClellan served as governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881.

 

Photo:  Ambrose E. Burnside

Ambrose E. Burnside

Ambrose E. Burnside
1824-1881, Indiana

Born to a poor family of Quakers, Burnside was indentured at an early age as a tailor's apprentice. Afterward he entered West Point and graduated in the class of 1847, during the Mexican War. Although sent to Mexico, he did not arrive until the war had ended. Burnside was then ordered to duty in New Mexico, where he was wounded in an engagement with Apaches. During duty in New Mexico, Burnside found the cavalry carbine unsuited for plains service and

 

 

 

 

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invented the Burnside breechloading rifle. In 1852 he resigned his commission and settled in Rhode Island to manufacture the new rifle, hoping for a lucrative government contract. After failing to obtain a contract, he was forced to turn over the patent rights to creditors. Still in debt, Burnside found employment with his former West Point classmate George McClellan at the Illinois Central Railroad in Chicago.

By 1860 Burnside was the company treasurer with an office in New York City. At the beginning of the Civil War, Burnside returned to Rhode Island to take command of a regiment of militia, which led to Washington in April 1861. At the Battle of First Bull Run on 21 July, Burnside was a colonel in command of a brigade and by early August had been promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. In early 1862 Burnside commanded an expedition against the North Carolina coast, where his troops captured Roanoke Island, New Berne, Beaufort, and Fort Macon. For these accomplishments he was promoted to major general in March 1862. In July Burnside's troops, plus troops from other commands, were organized into the IX Corps. During the Second Bull Run Campaign the IX Corps was attached to Pope's Army of Virginia, although Burnside himself remained near Fredericksburg. During the Maryland Campaign Burnside was briefly assigned command of a wing, which consisted of the I and IX Corps, in McClellan's army.

Burnside had twice before been offered command of the Army of the Potomac, after the Peninsula and Second Bull Run Campaigns. Each time he had expressed that he did not feel competent to command such a large force. However, in early November President Lincoln relieved McClellan and Burnside reluctantly accepted the command. A month later he crossed his army to the south of the Rappahannock River but was defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December.

In January 1863 Burnside attempted to launch another offensive campaign, known as the Mud March; poor weather conditions resulted in another failure. President Lincoln relieved him of command and transferred him to the Western Theater. While he was commander of the Department of the Ohio, his forces occupied East Tennessee and captured Knoxville. In 1864 Burnside was ordered back east, once again commanding the IX Corps, and participated in Grant's overland campaign in Virginia. He led his corps through the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor and the operations against Petersburg. After the failed attack at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg in July, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade charged Burnside with disobedience of orders. A court of inquiry found Burnside "answerable for the want of success," and in April 1865 he re-

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signed from the Army. After the war Burnside was three-time governor of Rhode Island; from 1875 until his death, he served as a U.S. Senator.

 

Photo:  Joseph Hooker

Joseph Hooker

Joseph Hooker
1814-1879, Massachusetts

Hooker graduated from West Point in 1837 and served in the Mexican War, rising to the rank of captain of artillery. After a leave of absence from 1851-1853, he resigned his commission to take up farming in California. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Hooker was made brigadier general of volunteers and commanded troops defending Washington. He was assigned command of a division in the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign in early 1862 and promoted to major general of volunteers in May. During the

Battle of Second Bull Run in late August, Hooker's division was attached to Pope's Army of Virginia. In the reorganization of the army at the beginning of the Maryland Campaign in September, Hooker was assigned command of the I Corps, Army of the Potomac, which he led in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September. Soon afterward he was promoted to brigadier general in the Regular Army. At the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December, Hooker served as a "grand division" commander of the Army of the Potomac, commanding the III and V Corps. In January 1863 he was assigned command of the Army of the Potomac and led that force to defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1-4 May 1863. When Lee advanced into Pennsylvania in June, Hooker followed. In late June, after the War Department refused his request for additional troops from the garrison at Harper's Ferry, Hooker asked to be relieved of the army command-his request was immediately accepted. In September Hooker was transferred to the Western Theater, where he commanded the XI and XII Corps (later consolidated into the XX Corps). In July 1864, when one of Hooker's subordinates was promoted over him, Hooker was relieved at his own request. For the remainder

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of the war he was assigned various departmental commands. Hooker remained on active duty until 1868, when he was retired for disability contracted in the line of duty.

 

 

Photo:  Edwin V. Sumner

Edwin V. Sumner

Edwin V. Sumner
1797-1863, Massachusetts

Born in Boston, Sumner enlisted in the Regular Army in 1819 as a 2d lieutenant of infantry. He served in the Black Hawk War, became captain of the 2d Dragoons in 1833, and was employed on the Western Frontier. In 1838 he was placed in command of the school of cavalry practice at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Sumner was promoted to major in 1846 and served in the Mexican War. In 1855 he was promoted to colonel of the 1st Cavalry. Three years later he was in command of the Department of the West. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Sumner was appointed a brigadier general in the Regular Army and sent to command the Department of the Pacific. He was recalled in 1862 to take command of the I Corps, Army of the Potomac. His command participated in the Peninsula Campaign during the summer of 1862, and he was wounded twice. After being appointed major general of volunteers, Sumner entered the Maryland Campaign in command of a wing consisting of the II and XII Corps. At the Battle of Antietam on 17 September, Sumner personally led a division of the II Corps into battle; it was driven off the field and Sumner was wounded. At the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December, Sumner commanded the Right Grand Division, containing the II and IX Corps. Although Sumner was ordered to remain at his headquarters during the battle, his command participated in the unsuccessful attacks against the Confederate defense on Marye's Heights. Upon the accession of Hooker to command of the Army of the Potomac in January 1863, Sumner requested a transfer to the Western Theater. On the way to take command of the Department of the Missouri, he died in New York of natural causes.

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Photo:  Joseph K. F. Mansfield

Joseph K. F. Mansfield

Joseph K. F. Mansfield
1803-1862, Connecticut

Mansfield graduated from West Point in 1822, standing second in a class of forty. He was assigned to the Corps of Engineers and for the next three years planned fortifications for the defense of the harbors and cities on the East Coast. In 1832 he was promoted to 1st lieutenant and in 1838 to captain. Mansfield served in the Mexican War as chief engineer under Maj. Gen. Zachary Taylor. During the war Mansfield received brevets of major and lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct. He was appointed inspector general of the U.S. Army in 1853 with the rank of colonel and at the beginning of the Civil War was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers and placed in command of the Department of Washington and the city of Washington. Mansfield was in command of Newport News in late 1861 and was engaged in the capture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Virginia, the following spring. On 18 July he was promoted to major general of volunteers. During the Maryland Campaign in September Mansfield was assigned command of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks' XII Corps after Banks was detailed to duty in Washington. Mansfield had been in command only three days when at the Battle of Antietam he was mortally wounded while mistakenly riding between the opposing lines. He died the following morning.

 

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Confederate Officers

Photo:  Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
1807-1870, Virginia

Lee, a member of a prominent Virginia family, was the son of "Light Horse Harry" Lee, a hero of the American Revolution. His older brother, Sydney Lee, served as commandant at Annapolis, commanded Commodore Perry's flagship in the Japan expedition, and later served in the Confederate Navy. Robert graduated from West Point in 1829, second in his class of forty-six. He then served at various forts along the east coast before being assigned chief engineer for the St. Louis, Missouri, harbor. During the Mexican War Lee served on the staff of General Winfield Scott in the Vera Cruz expedition, receiving in succession the brevets of major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. After the war Lee returned to supervise construction of fortifications until appointed superintendent of West Point, a position he held from 1852 to 1855. Later he was transferred from the engineer corps and assigned as lieutenant colonel of the 2d Cavalry. In late 1859 the abolitionist John Brown made his raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry; Lee, on leave in Washington, was sent with a force of marines from the Navy Yard to capture the raiders. In early 1861 Lee was promoted to colonel of the 1st Cavalry, his commission signed by the newly elected Abraham Lincoln. However, when he was offered command of forces that would invade the South, Lee resigned his commission.

In late April he was appointed major general and commander of Virginia military forces. A month later, when Virginia became part of the Confederacy, Lee was commissioned first a brigadier general in the Confederate Army (no higher rank having been created at that time) and later general. In March 1862 he became the military adviser to President Jefferson Davis. At the beginning of June Lee succeeded the wounded General Joseph E. Johnston in

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command of the Army of Northern Virginia in charge of defending Richmond. Lee led his army through a series of victories-at the Battles of the Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville-punctuated by reverses at Antietam and Gettysburg. In February 1865 Lee was appointed general in chief of the Confederate armies; but two months later, on 9 April, he was forced to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. After the war Lee accepted the presidency of Washington College at Lexington, Virginia, and served there until his death. (The school's name was later changed to Washington and Lee University.)

 

 

Photo:  James Longstreet

James Longstreet

James Longstreet
1821-1904, South Carolina

At the age of ten Longstreet moved to Alabama with his parents. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1842 and served in the Mexican War, during which he was severely wounded and also brevetted as a major. He was promoted to captain in 1852 and to major and paymaster in 1858 and stationed at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Resigning his commission in 1861, Longstreet was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and ordered to report to Manassas, where he commanded a brigade. On 18 July his command repulsed a Federal attack at Blackburn's Ford; during the Battle of First Bull Run on 21 July, it threatened the Federal rear. In October he was promoted to major general and given command of a division under General Johnston. During the summer of 1862 he commanded the right wing of the Confederate army before Richmond in the Battle of Seven Pines. He commanded his own and Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's divisions under Lee in the successful Battles of Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm. Afterward he commanded a wing of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. At Second Bull Run, 30-31 August 1862, Longstreet's wing was instrumental in crushing Pope's army and driving it back to

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Washington. In the Maryland Campaign his command fought at South Mountain on 14 September and in the Battle of Antie- tam on 17 September.

In October Longstreet was promoted to lieutenant general and his wing was redesignated the I Corps. The I Corps was responsible for the successful defense of Marye's Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December. In 1862 Longstreet suffered a personal tragedy when three of his four children died in Richmond of scarlet fever. In the spring of 1863 Longstreet operated with part of his corps at Suffolk, Virginia, missing the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1-6 May; but he soon rejoined Lee at Fredericksburg. The Gettysburg Campaign found Longstreet's corps moving into Pennsylvania, and he personally reached the field at Gettysburg on the afternoon of 1 July. On 2 July Hood's and McLaws' divisions of Longstreet's corps (Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett's division having not yet arrived), made an unsuccessful attempt to turn the Federal left. Pickett's division arrived by 3 July and, reinforced by commands from A. P. Hill's corps, unsuccessfully attempted to break the Federal center. After Lee's army had retired to Virginia, Longstreet, with Hood's and McLaws' divisions, was sent to reinforce General Braxton Bragg in northern Georgia, where Longstreet, as a commander of the left wing at Chickamauga, crushed the Federal right. Rejoining the Army of Northern Virginia in time for Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign, Longstreet's command participated in the Battle of the Wilderness, where on 6 May he was wounded accidentally by his own men. After returning to duty Longstreet commanded a portion of the defense of Richmond, and his command later joined the retreat at Appomattox. After the war Longstreet settled in New Orleans and became a member of the Republican Party, much to the chagrin of his former Confederate comrades. President Grant appointed him surveyor of customs, and Longstreet served as U.S. marshal of Georgia and minister to Turkey.

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Photo:  Thomas J. Jackson

Thomas J. Jackson

Thomas J. Jackson
1824-1863, Virginia

Jackson was born in what is now Clarksburg, West Virginia. His parents died while he was still a child, and he was raised by an uncle. At the age of eighteen he was appointed to West Point and graduated in 1846 in time to participate in the Mexican War. He was assigned to the 1st Regular Artillery and participated in the storming of Chapultepec. In 1851 he resigned his Army commission and accepted a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. For ten years he was a professor of natural philosophy and an instructor of artillery tactics. While at the Institute, Jackson married Elinor Junkin; after her death a year later he took a leave of absence from the Institute and spent the summer of 1856 in Europe. After his return to Virginia, Jackson was married again, to Mary Anna Morrison of North Carolina. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Jackson was commissioned a colonel in the Virginia forces and sent to Harper's Ferry, where he was active in organizing recruits. Jackson was soon appointed brigadier general and given command of a brigade in the Army of the Shenandoah. The brigade participated in the Battle of First Bull Run on 21 July, in which Jackson and his command received the nickname Stonewall. A month later Jackson was promoted to major general. In November he was assigned command of the Valley District, consisting of the Stonewall Brigade and other attached troops. In May 1862 he began his celebrated Valley Campaign, winning victories at McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, and Port Republic. Jackson then marched to Richmond to join Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the defense of the capital. After the Peninsula Campaign, Jackson, commanding a wing of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, was detached and sent on a flanking march around the Union army under Pope. Jackson captured Pope's supply base at Manassas and, after being joined by Lee and the remainder of the Confederate Army, defeated Pope at the Battle of Second Bull Run on 30-31 August. In the Maryland Campaign, Jackson's wing captured the 11,000-man Union gar-

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rison at Harper's Ferry and then joined Lee at Sharpsburg to participate in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September. Two months later he was promoted to lieutenant general and his wing officially became the II Corps. At the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December, Jackson's corps held the right flank of Lee's army and easily repelled half-hearted Union assaults. The following year, at the Battle of Chancellorsville, he led his corps on a wide flank march on 2 May that routed the Union XII Corps. Personally reconnoitering the front lines that night, Jackson was shot accidentally by his own men. Following the amputation of his arm, he died eight days later, on 10 May 1863.

 

Photo:  James E. B. Stuart

James E. B. Stuart

James E. B. Stuart
1833-1864, Virginia

After graduating from West Point in 1854, Stuart spent much of his service with the 1st Cavalry in Kansas. Following Virginia's secession, Stuart resigned his commission and became a captain of cavalry in the Confederate Army. He participated in the Battle of First Bull Run in July 1861 and afterward was promoted to brigadier general. In June 1862 he conducted the first of his celebrated cavalry raids, riding completely around McClellan's army on the Virginia peninsula. Stuart was promoted to major general in July and given command of all cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. After another bold and successful raid in August, this time to John Pope's rear, Stuart covered the last stage of Stonewall Jackson's flanking movement before the Battle of Second Bull Run, 30-31 August. He was actively engaged in the subsequent Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam on 17 September. After the latter battle, Stuart again rode around the Union army, ranging as far as southern Pennsylvania and capturing over a thousand horses. He participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg in December and, at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, provided security for Jackson's flank attack. When Jackson was wounded, Stuart took temporary command of Jackson's corps. In June 1863 Stuart's command fought in the largest cavalry battle of the war

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at Brandy Station, where he was surprised by Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton. The approach of Confederate infantry forced Pleasonton's cavalry to withdraw across the Rappahannock. In the Gettysburg Campaign, Stuart was absent until the evening of 2 July, after having ridden too far east of Lee's army. Without Stuart to provide him with information, Lee did not learn soon enough of the Union concentration north of the Potomac, which resulted in the Battle of Gettysburg. In the spring of 1864 Stuart's command, now decreased in size and deficient in equipment, engaged a force of Union cavalry at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on 11 May. During the engagement Stuart was mortally wounded and died the following day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last updated 25 August 2006