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William Henry Christian
Birth: Apr. 9, 1825
Utica
Oneida County
New York, USA
Death: May 8, 1887
Utica
Oneida County
New York, USA

Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. Perhaps the one Union officer who least deserved a brevet Brigadier Generalship, he was a surveyor and civil engineer post-Civil War. During the Mexican War he served in the 1st New York Volunteers, becoming proficient in military parade drill and discipline, and rose to 1st Sergeant even though the unit never saw combat. He was active in the militia in the time between the wars in his native Utica, New York, When the Civil War began he recruited men for the Union war effort in and around Utica, and raised the regiment that became the 26th New York Volunteer Infantry. Commissioned its Colonel and commander on May 29, 1861. Despite his Mexican War and militia background, his acumen proved wanting when active campaigning began. In October 1861 men under his command were detailed to capture Confederate cavalry that were encamped near their positions, and the operation failed in such a way that Colonel Christian was brought up on charges by brigade commander Brigadier General Henry W. Slocum. The court of inquiry on the charges never materialized, but the 26th New York were assigned to garrison Fort Lyon in the Washington, DC defenses. They would remain there until May 1862, when they were assigned to Army of the Potomac's I Corps, which had been tasked to remain in the Washington, DC area while the rest of the Army fought in the Peninsular Campaign near Richmond, Virginia. When the 26th New York Infantry finally saw combat with the Confederates during the August 1862 Battle of 2nd Bull Run, their commander, Colonel Christian, remained in the rear with the claim of sickness, only to return to the unit after the fight was over. He also assumed command of the brigade as senior Colonel when Brigadier General Zealous B. Tower was wounded in the battle. At the September Battles of Chantilly and South Mountain, his brigade was lightly engaged, and he performed credibly if not remarkably. During the opening phases of the September 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam, he directed his brigade into battle, only to find them halted by intense Confederate artillery fire. At that point he abandoned his command, running the the East Woods area, leaving his men leaderless under the intense rebel fire. Its took Division commander Brigadier General James B. Ricketts, who had been wounded already, to sort out the situation and assign another officer to lead Colonel Christian's men and get them moving. At the end of the day General Ricketts' demanded of Colonel Christian he either face a court martial on charges of cowardice in the face of the enemy or resign. On September 19, 1862 he resigned his commission and returned home. Though the rest of the war William Henry Christian tried to return to the army, even proposing at one point to serve without pay, but his previous actions prevented any possibility of it. On March 13, 1865, possibly to placate him in his effort to erase the stain of cowardice, he was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers. His actions haunted him through the rest of his life, causing great bouts of depression, affecting his family,and eventually ruining his civil engineering career. He was finally committed by his wife to the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica, where he died in May 1887. (bio by: Russ Dodge) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Mary Timerman Christian (1833 - 1929)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Forest Hill Cemetery
Utica
Oneida County
New York, USA
Plot: Section 46A, Lot 2118
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Art Loux
Record added: Jul 27, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 94253846
William Henry Christian
Added by: Art Loux
 
William Henry Christian
Added by: DJ Paul
 
William Henry Christian
Added by: Art Loux
 
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- Bunny
 Added: Apr. 9, 2016
If only you could have been honest with yourself after the first combat, you may have been able to serve the war effort in some other regard. A very sad story. May you rest in peace, sir.
- Daniel Moran
 Added: Apr. 9, 2016
Thank you for your service
-Anonymous
 Added: Feb. 1, 2013
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