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BG Richard Brooke Garnett

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BG Richard Brooke Garnett

  • Birth 21 Nov 1817 Essex County, Virginia, USA
  • Death 3 Jul 1863 Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 4544

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. He was born on the family plantation "Rose Hill" in Essex County, Virginia and received an appointment to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, and graduated in 1841 with a commission as a second lieutenant in the 6th US Infantry. He then served in a variety of posts in Florida during the Seminole Wars, and afterwards was sent out to the Western frontier, where he commanded Fort Laramie in the present US state of Wyoming, rode with the Utah Expedition, and was a noted Native American fighter. During the Mexican-American War, he served in staff positions in New Orleans, and was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in February 1847. In May 1855 he was promoted to the rank of captain and served in California when the Civil War began, and he resigned his commission in the US Army in May 1861 and returned to Virginia to offer his services to the Confederacy. His first assignment in Virginia was as a major of artillery in May 1861, and then as lieutenant colonel of Cobb's Georgia Legion the following August 31. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on November 14, 1861, and commanded the 1st Brigade of the Valley District of the Confederate Army of the Potomac, the brigade originally formed by Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, the "Stonewall Brigade." At the First Battle of Kernstown in March 1862, under Jackson's orders, he attacked what was thought to be a retreating Union infantry force under Brigadier General James Shields. As it turned out, Shields had a full infantry division on hand, almost 9,000 men, twice the size of Jackson's force. The attack went badly and with his brigade low on ammunition and surrounded by forces attacking from three sides, he ordered a retreat. Jackson was infuriated and accused him of disobeying orders, meaning that he should not have retreated without first receiving permission. Jackson, well known as a strict disciplinarian, arrested him for "neglect of duty" on April 1, 1962 and relieved him of command. His court-martial started in August 1862, with only Jackson and his aide giving testimony. However, the trial was suspended due to the start of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Northern Virginia Campaign and the Second Battle of Bull Run that September. Lee ordered Jackson to release him from arrest and he was assigned to command the injured Confederate General George Pickett's brigade in Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet's First Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. He commanded the brigade credibly at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, after which he assumed permanent command of the brigade the following month when Pickett was promoted to divisional command, and at the Battle of Fredericksburg that December. He did not participate in the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 because Longstreet's Corps was assigned duties in Suffolk, Virginia. At Stonewall Jackson death after the Battle of Chancellorsville, he returned to Richmond, Virginia where the general's body lay in state and served as one of the pall bearers. At the Battle of Gettysburg, his brigade under Pickett did not reach the battlefield until the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Lee ordered Pickett's division to assault the Union center the following day, and Garnett's brigade was in the front rank of Pickett's division. While he was in no physical shape to lead an infantry charge, as he was suffering from fever and an injured leg when his horse kicked him and could not walk, he was anxious to settle the record of his military dishonor from Kernstown, which the aborted court-martial could not. He insisted on leading his soldiers into battle on horseback and personally got within 20 yards of the "Angle" on Cemetery Ridge before he was killed, a bullet striking him in the head as he waved his hat to urge his men forward. Although he was wearing a new uniform, somehow his body was never identified and he was buried by Union soldiers in a mass grave on the battlefield. In 1872, remains of Confederate dead were brought from Gettysburg and reinterred to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The Hollywood Memorial Association erected a cenotaph in Garnett's honor in 1991, making the assumption that his remains were in this group. He was portrayed by American actor Andrew Prine in the 1993 film "Gettysburg," based on Michael Shaara's novel, "The Killer Angels." In the movie, he is killed by a cannon shot. He reprised this role in 2003 in film's prequel "Gods and Generals," although uncredited and without any dialog.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Feb 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4544
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for BG Richard Brooke Garnett (21 Nov 1817–3 Jul 1863), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4544, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .