Jesse Lee Reno

Jesse Lee Reno

Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia, USA
Death 14 Sep 1862 (aged 39)
Frederick County, Maryland, USA
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Plot Reno Hill, Lot 686, Reno Circle
Memorial ID 5886901 · View Source
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Civil War Union Major General. Born in Wheeling, western Virginia, under the French name "Renault," he moved at the age of 9 with his family to Venango County, Pennsylvania. Attending the United States Military Academy he graduated 8th in the class of 1846. Among his classmates were George B. McClellan, Thomas J. Jackson and George Pickett. He served in the Mexican War and earned the ranks of brevet First Lieutenant and Captain, respectively, for distinguishing himself with gallant and meritorious conduct at Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec. After a year's assistant professorship in mathematics at his alma mater in 1849, he became secretary of a board on artillery technique. Later, he became assistant to the Ordnance Board at the Washington Arsenal. Now holding the rank of Captain, he commanded arsenals at Mount Vernon, Alabama, and Leavenworth, Kansas, until the Civil War began in 1861. On November 12, he was commissioned Brigadier General and commanded a brigade under Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside in the expedition through North Carolina during the winter of 1861-1862. In April 1862 he took the reins of a division in the Department of North Carolina and went on to Virginia in August in time for the Second Bull Run Campaign. Throughout the campaign he retained command of the IX Corps and took part in the pursuit of Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's crack cavalry through Maryland. It was during this assignment that he met Barbara Fritchie in Frederick, offering to purchase the flag she was said to have waved at Jackson as he marched through the town. Although she had not seen Jackson, she did present him with a homemade bunting that he tucked carefully away in his saddlebag. Due to the accidental discovery of plans revealing Lee's divided army, he was ordered to lead his corps in an attempt to get between the Confederate forces. In the dusk light of September 14, 1862, the Union IX Corps, now near Fox's Gap in the shadow of South Mountain, Maryland, was trying to scale the slopes and push the Confederates from the gap. The entire afternoon his corps had been in the heavy fighting on the Union left flank. As he rushed up and down the line of his command, shouting words of encouragement, Confederate rifle fire cut him down, mortally wounding him. He was carried to the rear, where he saw his old classmate and friend General Samuel Sturgis. He said to him, "Hello Sam, I am dead!". Sturgis thought he was joking and replied,"Oh no General, not so bad as that I hope," to which he replied, "Yes, yes, I'm dead, goodbye!" He was later carried down the mountain and placed under a large oak tree where he was cared for by surgeons. Just before sunset, he spoke his final words, "Tell my command that if not in body I will be with them in spirit." The Battle of South Mountain was over, and the Union army had lost a respected commander. Upon learning of his death, Burnside referred to him as "one of the country's best defenders." His brother took his remains to Baltimore and then had them transferred to Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was buried on September 20, with his coffin covered by the Fritchie Flag. His body was later exhumed and moved to Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C. In the spot where his mortal wound occurred is a seldom seen granite monument to his memory. Reno, Nevada was named in his honor.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 24 Oct 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5886901
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jesse Lee Reno (20 Jun 1823–14 Sep 1862), Find a Grave Memorial no. 5886901, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .