Feb. 24, 1811 London City of London Greater London, England
Oct. 21, 1861 Leesburg Loudoun County Virginia, USA
Civil War Union Major General, US Senator. Born in London, England in 1811, he immigrated to the United States with his parents as a child. He lived in Springfield, Illinois where he met Abraham Lincoln, who became a law partner and a close, intimate friend and supporter (so much so that Lincoln would name one of his children after him). He was elected to terms in both the Illinois State Legislature and the Illinois State Senate before running for the United States Congress in 1844. Elected as a Whig to represent Illinois' 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, he served from 1845 until he resigned his seat in 1846 to accept an United States Army commission to fight in the Mexican War. Assigned as a Colonel to command the 4th Illinois Volunteers, he fought at the April 18, 1847 Battle of Cerro Gordo, where he briefly took command of his brigade and led it in a successful charge. Returning to Illinois after his enlistment expired, he was again elected as a Whig to the United States House of Representatives, this time serving Illinois' 6th District from 1849 to 1851. He moved to San Francisco, California in 1852. After several attempt to be elected to Congress from his new state, he relocated to Oregon in 1859, and in 1860 was elected as a Republican Senator from there to the United States Senate. A strong anti-seccession and anti-slavery expansion proponent in line with the party platform of the newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln, he greatly contributed in keeping the West Coast states on the side of the Union. When the Civil War began, he helped recruit a regiment from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was to be accredited to California, even though most of the men had never been to the state. Commissioned Colonel of what was designated the 1st California Volunteer Infantry, he had declined a commission of Brigadier General because accepting it would have forced him to resign his Senator's seat. In the summer of 1861 he was given command of his brigade, which contained two more Pennsylvania-recruited, California-designated regiments, and led it in operations along the Potomac River. At the October 21, 1861 Battle of Ball's Bluff, he impetuously led his men in an advancement into superior Confederate positions, ignoring the advice of professional soldiers in his command, and was killed by rebel gunfire. On September 21, 1861 he had been appointed a Major General of US Volunteers by President Lincoln, and the commission had not yet been confirmed or declined by either the United States Congress or Edward Baker at the time of his death. After funeral services in Washington, DC, New York City, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where he lay in state at Independence Hall), his remains were returned to San Francisco for burial at the national cemetery at the Presidio. A cenotaph memorial marker would be erected for him at the small cemetery on the Ball's Bluff battlefield that holds casualties of the engagement. The regiment he recruited and led would eventually be accredited to Pennsylvania, and be re-designated the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Its sister units would also be accredited to Pennsylvania, and would form the famous Philadelphia Brigade. (bio by: Russ Dodge)
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Colonel thank you for your service to our country during our American Civil War. I have been to the spot where you fell on the field many, many times. Rest in peace, sir. -
Daniel Moran Added: Feb. 24, 2016
In memory of the commander of the California Regiment (71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry) -
Jim McDonald Added: Oct. 21, 2015