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Rufus Saxton
Birth: Oct. 19, 1824
Franklin County
Massachusetts, USA
Death: Feb. 23, 1908
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA

Civil War Union Brigadier General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York 18th in the class of 1849. He served in Florida against the Seminoles from 1849 to 1850, receiving his commission as 2nd Lieutenant on September 12, 1850. Over the next decade he drew frontier duty, participated in the Northern Pacific Railroad survey, and, after being promoted to 1st Lieutenant on March 2, 1855, held various assignments involving coastal survey and fortification. After teaching artillery tactics at West Point for a year and following several months on duty in Europe, he commanded a detachment of artillery early in 1861, at the St. Louis arsenal in Missouri, assisting Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon in disbanding secessionists, (the Missouri State Guard), training at Camp Jackson. Promoted to Captain on May 13, he served briefly as quartermaster to Lyon and to Major General George B. McClellan in western Virginia, and he participated in the expedition to Port Royal, South Carolina. Advanced to Brigadier General on April 15, 1862, he commanded the defenses at Harper's Ferry during Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's Shenandoah Campaign of 1862. His defense from May 26 to 30, 1862, was such a success that on April 25, 1893, he would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. From July 1862 until January 1865 he held various commands and titles within the Department of the South, the most important being the independent military governorship of the coastal islands off South Carolina and Georgia. With the assignment came orders for which he was well suited: the first orders issued by the War Department authorizing the recruitment and organization of up to 5,000 African-American soldiers for Federal service. Opposed to slavery, he labored diligently at Beaufort, South Carolina, to recruit and train the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers. The unit, begun by former Department of the South commander Major General David Hunter on his own initiative, had been seriously undermined by his mistreatment of blacks and his radical abolitionism. By insisting on treating them with respect and insisting they be enlisted on an equal basis with whites, General Saxton became trusted by blacks reluctant to fight for a government that discriminated against them. To help combat the prejudice he found among whites in the army, he gave the black recruits their first opportunity to prove themselves as combat troops by sending a company to operate from aboard a steamer and raid along the coast of Georgia and Florida from November 3rd to the 10th. Lifted by their success and by the public support it brought, he was able to shape the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers into the first full-strength officially mandated black regiment in the Federal army. Once President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, on January 1, 1863, the aggressive recruitment of blacks began throughout the army. Concerned with black civilians as well, he tried to reduce the hardships of contrabands by assigning to them parcels of land on Sea Islands estates abandoned by Confederate plantation owners. The former slaves, supplied by the government with seed and tools, were to grow enough food for their own support and were encouraged by him to market surpluses as a means of becoming independent. In exchange for the opportunity, each farmer was obliged to raise an allotment of cotton for use by the Federal government. When Major General William T. Sherman's forces occupied Georgia and moved into the Carolinas, he transferred to the Freedmen's Bureau in 1865 as assistant commissioner in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Hoping Congress would pass legislation permitting the distribution of confiscated estates to former slaves, he delayed restoring to former owners plantations being farmed by freedmen. President Andrew Johnson removed him from his post in January 1866, ending his ambitious efforts to help former slaves adjust to the self-sufficiency freedom now required. He was brevetted Major General of Volunteers and Brigadier General of Regulars for his wartime services and was mustered out of the volunteers on January 15, 1866. He then went on with his military career in the Quartermaster Department of the Regular Army, receiving promotions to Major on July 29, 1866, to Lieutenant Colonel and deputy quartermaster general on June 6, 1872, and to his highest rank, Colonel, on March 10, 1882, the year he was named assistant quartermaster general. He retired from active duty on October 10, 1888, at the end of 5 years as head of the supply depot at Jeffersonville, Kentucky. He later would die at his home in Washington D.C. His CMOH citation reads simply "Distinguished gallantry and good conduct in the defense". (bio by: Ugaalltheway) 
Family links: 
  Jonathan A. Saxton (____ - 1871)
  Miranda Wright Saxton (1799 - 1844)
  Matilda Gordon Thompson Saxton (1840 - 1915)
  Mirand W Saxton (____ - 1907)*
  Rufus Saxton (1824 - 1908)
  Edward Lowell Saxton (1827 - 1864)*
  Lewis Saxton (1835 - 1838)*
  George Henry Saxton (1838 - 1936)*
  Philip M. Saxton (1841 - 1843)*
*Calculated relationship
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 1, Site 20-A
GPS (lat/lon): 38.88032, -77.07589
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Oct 24, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 5885503
Rufus Saxton
Added by: Paul Hays
Rufus Saxton
Added by: Paul Hays
Rufus Saxton
Added by: Janet Greentree
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 Added: Jun. 14, 2016

- Martin W
 Added: Jun. 13, 2016
Thank you for your service ...."Preserving the memories so others will remember...."
- John Michael
 Added: May. 4, 2016
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