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 Francis Winthrop Palfrey

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Francis Winthrop Palfrey

  • Birth 11 Apr 1831 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 6 Dec 1889 Cannes, Departement des Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
  • Burial Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Plot Mimosa Path, Lot 1031
  • Memorial ID 7863531

Civil War Union Brevet Brigadier General. The son of author, abolitionist, educator and US Congressman John Gorham Palfrey, he served during the Civil War first as a 1st Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion of Massachusetts Militia, then as an officer in the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which was known as the "Harvard Regiment", due to the number of officers who had graduated from that school. An 1851 Harvard graduate himself, he was made the Lieutenant Colonel of the unit, serving under Colonel William Raymond Lee (some of his fellow officers were Henry L. Abbott, Paul Joseph Revere and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.). He was with his regiment at the Battle of Antietam, where it participated in the disastrous assault of General John Sedgwick’s II Corps Division on Confederate positions in the West Woods sector of the battlefield. In the action where the division was nearly cut off and annihilated, Francis Palfrey was severely wounded and unable to move. His life was saved only by the timely arrival of a Confederate officer, who promised to send for medical attention only if Colonel Palfrey surrendered his pistol and sword, which he did. Captured and exchanged, he was advanced to Colonel and commander of the regiment when Colonel Lee was discharged in December 1862. His tenure at the head of the unit lasted only until April 1863, when his lingering wounds forced his discharge on medical grounds. On March 13, 1865 he was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers for "gallant conduct at the Battle of Antietam, and for meritorious services during the war". He went on to found the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, and to write the 1882 work "The Antietam and Fredericksburg (Campaigns of the Civil War)". His younger brother was Brevet Brigadier General John Carver Palfrey.

Bio by: Russ


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Russ
  • Added: 12 Sep 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7863531
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Francis Winthrop Palfrey (11 Apr 1831–6 Dec 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7863531, citing Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .