Wesley A. Merritt


Wesley A. Merritt Famous memorial

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 3 Dec 1910 (aged 74)
Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
Burial West Point, Orange County, New York, USA
Plot Section XXII, Row A, Site 009
Memorial ID 5844313 View Source

Civil War Union Army Major General. Born in New York City, New York, he would become one of the lesser-known, but most successful, "boy generals" of the Civil War. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, placing 22nd in the class of 1860. A dragoon before the war, he held the rank of 1st Lieutenant when the war began. Until mid-1863, he served mostly on staff duty in Washington, D.C., including 2 stints as aide to Major General George Stoneman, Commander of Cavalry in the Army of the Potomac. Having risen to the rank of Captain, he returned to field duty, earning notice for his daring and gallantry at Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, the largest mounted battle waged in North America. This, plus his capable performance near Middleburg 11 days later, enabled him to make an unprecedented leap to Brigadier General of Volunteers. During the remainder of the Gettysburg Campaign, he commanded the Reserve Cavalry Brigade, Army of the Potomac, comprising 4 regiments of Regulars and 1 of Volunteers. That autumn, in a series of battles and skirmishes, he demonstrated his ability for higher command. Temporarily given a division in May 1864, he served capably at Todd's Tavern, the war's largest dismounted cavalry fight, and during Major General Philip H. Sheridan's raid on Richmond, Virginia, especially at Yellow Tavern where Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded. That August, he received permanent command of the 1st Cavalry Division in Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, which he led at Third Winchester, Luray, Cedar Creek, and Tom's Brook. In the last engagement he helped inflict on Major General Thomas L. Rosser's division one of the worst defeats suffered by Confederate Cavalry during the war. In 1865 at Waynesborough, and during the Appomattox Campaign, he commanded Sheridan's Cavalry Corps as a Brevet Major General of Volunteers. Remaining in the Army after the war, he rose to the rank of Major General, fought Indians, served as Superintendent of West Point from 1882 until 1887, and, during the Spanish-American War, he commanded the first Philippine Expedition of 1898 where he would later serve as the first Military Governor of the Philippines. He also was the officer to accept the Spanish surrender. He advised the United States Peace Commissioners in Paris. He ended his military career as Commander of the Department of the East, retiring on June 16, 1900, having served 40 years in the service of his country. Till the close of his career, he remained a highly capable officer, his lack of fame largely owing to his quiet and modest nature. Ten years after his retirement, he died at his home in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 14 Oct 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 5844313
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Wesley A. Merritt (16 Jun 1836–3 Dec 1910), Find a Grave Memorial ID 5844313, citing United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .