Biographies of Officers of the Civil War
Pennsylvania

Contributed by Linda Rodriguez


MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE BRINTON McCLELLAN was born in Philadelphia, December, 1826. He. entered West Point, where he ranked second in his class for merit and ability. He graduated in 1846, and was made second lieutenant of engineers. He was actively engaged in the war with Mexico, landing with General Scott at Vera Cruz, and participating in all the battles fought by the latter. For gallantry at Contreras and Cherubusco, he received the brevet of first lieutenant in August, 1817, and the next month, that of captain, for heroic valor in the battles of Molina del Rey and Chapultepec. In May, 1848, he received the further promotion of commandant of sappers, miners, and pioneers. At the end of the war he returned to West Point, and there remained until 1851. He wrote a work on the bayonet exercises, which became a standard, and in the summer and autumn of 1851, superintended the erection of Fort Delaware, near Philadelphia. He joined the exploring expedition of General Marcy to the Bed river, in the spring of 1852, and afterward, as senior engineer, served in Texas. He made an exploration of the Cascade Mountains, with special reference to a Pacific railroad, and performed his onerous duties satisfactorily. In 1854, he was sent on a secret mission to the West Indies, and the following year was promoted to a captaincy in the cavalry. During the Crimean war, he was appointed by Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, to make observations in the military establishments of Europe, and the results of two years thus employed, were ably exhibited in a volume published in 1857, and pronounced a valuable production. On his return from Europe, McClellan resigned from the service, became Vice-president and Chief-engineer of the Illinois Central railroad, and subsequently, President of the Ohio and Mississippi railroad. At the beginning of the great rebellion, he was assigned to the command of the Department of the Ohio, consisting of that State, Illinois, Indiana, and Western Virginia. In the latter place, he won a high reputation for military talent and skill, and after the battle of Bull Run, was appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac, with which, for a considerable period, his history is identical. The task of organizing, equipping, arming, and disciplining that army, devolved on McClellan. He led it to Manassas, to the siege of Yorktown, and in the battles of Williamsport, Fair Oaks, and Mechanicsville. It was necessary to change his base from the York to the James river, and this he executed in a masterly manner, though with considerable loss. The battles of Games' Mill, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill, attested the heroism of the troops composing this splendid army. General McClellan afterward won the victory of South Mountain, and severely punished the enemy on the well fought field of Antietam. In November, 1863, he was superseded by General Burnside, in the command of the Army of the Potomac. Failing in his aspirations to the Presidency of the Republic, he resigned from the army and departed on a prolonged sojourn in Europe.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE GORDON MEADE was born at Cadiz, in Spain, in 1816; his father being the United States Consul at the latter place. He graduated at West Point in June, 1885; in July of that year was appointed brevet second lieutenant, and was fully commissioned in the same rank in December. On the 26th of October, 1836, he resigned from the service, and lived in retirement for the next six years, when in May, 1842, he re-entered the army as second lieutenant of topographical engineers, and served in Mexico with distinction, in the battles of Palo Alto and Monterey; in the latter of which he rendered such services, as to tie breveted for gallant and meritorious conduct. In August, 1851, he was appointed first lieutenant, and in May, 1856, captain in the corps of topographical engineers, and was employed after the war with Mexico, in the duties connected with this corps, in the surveys of the northern lakes, and other similar services. On the organization of the Pennsylvania Reserve corps, he was appointed a brigadier-general of volunteers, and commanded the second brigade, being commissioned under the date of August 31st, 1861. He superintended the erection of Fort Pennsylvania, at Tennallytown, D. C, and in the winter of 1862, joined the Army of the Potomac. On the 18th of June, 1862, he was made major of topographical engineers, and with the Pennsylvania Reserves participated in the battles of Mechanicsville and of Gaines’ Mill. He served under Franklin, in command of the second division of the First army corps, on the left wing at the battle of Fredericksburg, where his bravery was conspicuous. Two days after that battle, he became major-general of volunteers, his commission dating from the 29th of November, 1862. During Hooker's command of the Army of the Potomac, Meade commanded the Fifth corps, and rendered important services in the bloody battle of Chancellorsville. In June, 1863, he was chosen as the commander of the Army of the Potomac* and displayed great strategy in the battle of Gettysburg, and afterward served with great distinction till the close of the war.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


MAJOR-GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK was born in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, February 14th, 1824, entered West Point in 1840, and graduated in 1844, receiving the brevet of second lieutenant in the Fourth infantry, and on June 18th, 1846, the commission of lieutenant. Being ordered to Mexico, he won distinction at Contreras and Cherubusco, for which he was breveted first lieutenant. He displayed great bravery also at Molina Del Rey, Mexico. On his return he became regimental quartermaster, and in 1849 was made adjutant of the Sixth United States infantry; after which he served on the plains and in California. He was made first lieutenant in January, 1863, and assistant quartermaster-general, with the rank of captain, in November, 1855. He then served for the second time in California, and remained on the Pacific coast till the war broke out returning east, he received the appointment of chief quartermaster to General Hate Major) Anderson, in command of the Department of the Ohio, but before reaching his new appointment was commissioned brigadier-general in the Army of the Potomac. During the winter of 1861-2, his brigade made some successful reconnoisancea. He served on the Peninsula, and on account of meritorious services at Lee's Mills and Yorktown, received the brevet of major in the regular army. He turned the tide of battle in a charge at Williamsburg, and for his gallantry was breveted as lieutenant-colonel in the regulars, to date from May 5th, 1862. After the battles of White Oak Swamp and Golding's farm, be was breveted colonel. He fought in the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg; in the latter of which he commanded a division of the Second corps, which lost heavily, and where he also was wounded. Afterward, he was commissioned major-general of volunteers, from November 20th, 1862. At the conflict of Chancellorsville he commanded a division, and after the appointment of General Couch to the command of the Department of the Susquehanna, he was advanced to the command of the Second corps. At the battle of Gettysburg he was actively engaged, being severely wounded on the third day of the battle. His corps had been increased by recruits to forty thousand men, and on his return, after convalescence, in the spring of 1864, he resumed command. He participated in the battles of the campaign, and during the autumn, out his old wounds proving troublesome, he requested to be relieved. When the army was reorganized, in June, 1865, he was appointed to command the Middle Department, consisting or West Virginia, most of Maryland, and the States of Delaware and Pennsylvania.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN W. GEARY is a native of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, served with distinction in the war with Mexico, and was promoted for meritorious conduct at Cerro Gordo and the city of Mexico. He resided in San Francisco in 1848, and was chosen the first Mayor of that city. President Buchanan appointed him Governor of Kansas in 1856, at a time when that Territory was in a state of insurrection, and border ruffianism rampant. By indomitable energy, ability, and firmness, Governor Geary began to make the laws respected, and to establish security of life and property. He suffered much privation while in Kansas, living in a log house, and was at considerable expense in disbursing from his private purse funds to supply the territorial administration. Being deprived of the necessary means for carrying into effect his governmental purposes, he resigned in March, 1857. He then retired to private life, and when the war broke out offered his services to his country. At Bolivar Heights, October 16th, 1861, Colonel Geary, with his regiment, defeated three thousand Confederates with heavy loss. In this engagement he exhibited great gallantry. He also did good service at the "Point of Rocks," and was soon after made a brigadier-general. Geary displayed great heroism at the battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9th, 1862, where a bold attempt to flank the Federal left was repelled and defeated by this leader, at the head of his brave brigade. He served with distinction in many battles of the Army of the Potomac, and having been made a major-general, commanded a division of the Twentieth corps under Sherman, whom he accompanied in the grand march to the sea. On the retreat of Hardee, Geary was the first to occupy the city of Savannah with his troops, and was appointed Military Governor of the city, the sanitary condition of which he improved. Under his judicious administration of affairs, order and protection to all classes prevailed. General Geary participated in the battles on the march through the Carolinas, and at the close of the war returned to his native State, was nominated by the Republican party as Governor of Pennsylvania, and elected by a large majority.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


BRIGADIER-GENERAL ALEXANDER HAYS was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, graduated at West Point in 1844, and passing through several grades, was made first lieutenant of infantry in June, 1846. He was distinguished during the war with Mexico in several battles. In 1848, he left the army, and, at the beginning of the war, was engaged in the iron manufacture in Venango county, Pennsylvania. In 1861, he re-entered the service as colonel of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania volunteers, and was made a captain in the Sixteenth regular infantry. Hays was conspicuous for bravery at the battle of Fair Oaks, and received a brevet of major. For gallant conduct in the seven days' battle, he was breveted lieutenant-colonel, and his services during the Maryland campaign won for him the star of a brigadier-general. At the battles of Chancellorsville, where he was wounded, and Gettysburg, he evinced his usual bravery. At the latter battle, he was in command of the Third division of Hancock's corps, and of the entire corps when that general was wounded. In the battles of Auburn, Bristow Station, and Mine Bun, General Hays was in command of the Third division; and when the Army of the Potomac was reorganized for the next campaign, he was placed in command of the Second brigade, Third division, Second corps, under General Hancock. On May 5th, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness, he was killed, while bravely leading his men.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN FULTON REYNOLDS was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1820, entered West Point in 1837, and graduated on the 30th of July, 1841. On the 23d of October, 1841, he was commissioned second lieutenant of artillery, and on the 18th of June, 1846, a first lieutenant. In the Mexican war he won the successive brevets of captain and major, at Monterey and Buena Vista, and after his return, was on service against the Indians on the Pacific coast. He was aid to General Wool in March, 1852, and in 1855 became captain of artillery. In May, 1861, he organized the Pennsylvania Reserves, during the same month was made lieutenant-colonel of the Fourteenth United States infantry, and in August, of that year, was placed in command of the first brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves. He was engaged in the construction of Fort Pennsylvania, at Tenallytown, D. C, and on the Peninsula, took part in the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Savage Station, and at Charles City crossroads. He was taken prisoner on the latter occasion, where he commanded, for awhile, the division of McCall, on the capture of the latter. Reynolds was made a brevet colonel and a brigadier-general in the regular army, commanded the Pennsylvania Militia during the rebel invasion in September, 1862, and afterward commanded the First corps under Franklin, being on the left wing at the battle of Fredericksburg. His commission of major-general of volunteers was dated from the 29th of November, 1862. He was in reserve at the battle of Chancellorsville, where he was distinguished for the promptness and skill with which he served his corps, in accordance with the design of General Hooker to deceive the enemy. He was appointed to command the right wing of Hooker's army on the 12th of June, when he had charge of three corps. At Gettysburg, he commanded the vanguard of the army, and on this bloody field he fell in the defense of his country on the first day of the battle. Thus perished a thorough soldier, and a true patriot

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


LIEUTENANT JOHN T. GREBLE was a native of Philadelphia, being educated at the celebrated High School of that city. He graduated with honor at West Point Military Academy, in 1854, received the rank of brevet second lieutenant, and was sent west to Florida, where he served two years in the war against the Seminole Indians. He was made first lieutenant in March, 1857, and afterward became an instructor at West Point. He was sent to Fortress Monroe in October, 1860, and there remained till May, 1861, when he was put in command of the artillery at the advanced post of Newport News. In the disastrous battle of Great Bethel, June 10th, 1861, he was in command of the artillery used on the occasion, consisting of two guns, which were worked by eleven artillerists of the Regular army. Lieutenant Greble was the first to ride up, and rectify the fatal error made by Duryea's zouaves and Colonel Townsend's regiment, of firing into each other, in the absence of signals, and during the prevailing darkness. A number were killed and wounded on both sides, and Greble, wrung with agony, declared that he had rather himself be shot than that such a fearful disaster should have happened. He had a presentiment that he would not survive the expedition on which the troops were sent, and was heard to say, "this is an ill-advised and badly arranged movement, no good will come from it; and as for myself, I shall not return from the battlefield alive." The words were prophetic, and this heroic young officer, by an early death, became the first martyr to the cause of his country from among the commanders of the regular army. The enemy were far superior in artillery, and many patriots were slain. With the most heroic courage, and the greatest precision, Greble worked his guns, and though left exposed from the irregular action of the troops, scorned to retreat till the bugle should sound the recall. He was struck on the right temple with a cannon ball, and instantly expired. His remains were rescued, and the guns recaptured. This lamented young officer was descended from illustrious Revolutionary sires, and will stand an example to American youth for ages. His amiable disposition, mental acquirements, attention to his duty, unflinching courage, and self-devotion, rank him with those worthies whose memory the country loves to cherish; and many an ardent patriot, stimulated by his example, like him, offered their lives at their country's shrine.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


REAR-ADMIRAL DAVID D. PORTER was born in Philadelphia in 1814. He was educated at the Naval School of Annapolis, entered the navy, and was passed midshipman on July 8d, 1835. He was for some years on the Coast Survey and in February 27th, 1841, was .promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and ordered to the Mediterranean, and afterward to the Brazil squadron. In 1845, he was on duty at the Washington Observatory, was at the capture of Vera Cruz in 1847, and was next sent to the rendezvous at New Orleans, after which he was on the Coast Survey. He was in command of the United States Mail Steamers Panama and Georgia, from 1847 till 1853. In 1855, he became lieutenant commander, and was first in command of the storeship supply. He was then on duty at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. In 1861, he became commander; was assigned to the Powhattan, on the West blockading squadron, and in April, 1862, commanded the mortar fleet below New Orleans. In October of the same year he was made acting rear-admiral, in command of the Upper Mississippi Squadron, and co-operated in the siege of Vicksburg. July the 4th, 1863, he was commissioned rear-admiral. In May, 1864, he participated in the Red river expedition, and on the 1st of November was transferred to the North Atlantic squadron, planned and executed the portion of the attack on Fort Fisher, in which the navy was engaged, and assisted finally in the capture of Wilmington. On the termination of the war, he was made superintendent of the Annapolis Naval Academy.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


REAR-ADMIRAL JOHN A. DAHLGREN was born in Pennsylvania in 1810. He entered the service as a midshipman, February 1st, 1826, and in March, 1837, was promoted to a lieutenancy. He became commander in September, 1855, captain in 1861, and rear-admiral February 7th, 1863. He had directed his attention to the ordnance, and had been detached as far back as 1846 for special service in this department. After 1847, he was engaged a number of years in experimenting in the size and materials of guns and projectiles. He invented a gun which bears his name, and between the years 1850 and 1856, published several works on ordnance. He was in command of the South Atlantic blockading squadron from July, 1863, till March, 1865. His attempts to capture Charleston were unavailing, and both he and General Gilmore. the commander of the land forces before Charleston, came to the conclusion that it was not in their power to gain possession of the city. Admiral Dahlgren had great faith in iron clad vessels, but they were found incapable of effecting the capture.

(Source: A Complete History of the Great Rebellion of the Civil War in the U.S. 1861-1865 with Biographical sketches of the Principal actors in the Great Drama. By Dr. James Moore, Published 1875)


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