About General Officers in the Union Army

About General Officers in the Union Army, 1861-1865

Commander-in-Chief

The Constitution of the United States of America provided that the President should be Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and the Militia of the several States when called into Federal service.

James Buchanan              President             4 March 1857 – 4 March 1861
Abraham Lincoln             President             4 March 1861 – 15 April 1865
Andrew Johnson               President             15 April 1865 – 4 March 1869

Secretary of War

The War Department under the Secretary of War conducted the political and administrative oversight of the Army, and all matters pertaining to the conduct of military operations. The Militia of the several States were directed by the Governor. The Secretary of the Navy directed the Navy, and the Marines;

John Buchanan Floyd 1857 to 31 December 1860
Joseph Holt interim 31 December 1860 to 17 January 1861 and permanently 18 January 1861 to 4 March 1861
Simon Cameron 5 March 1861 to 14 January 1862
Edwin McMaster Stanton 15 January 1862

General-in-Chief

After the War of Independence, the United States Army appointed no active duty General Officers. Secretaries of War from 1821 designated a General to be in charge of the field forces without formal congressional approval. When General Officers were next properly appointed, the highest authorised rank in the US Army was Major-General, and the senior Major-General on the Army rolls was referred to as the Commanding General of the United States Army, or, less officially, as General-in-Chief. This position was traditional rather than statutory.

January 1 1861: Major-General Winfield Scott was the incumbent General-in-Chief of the US Army
November 1 1861: Major-General George Brinton McClellan appointed General-in-Chief of the US Army
March 17 1862: None
July 11 1862: Major-General Henry Wager Halleck appointed General-in-Chief of the US Army
March 4 1864: Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant appointed General-in-Chief of the United States Army

The position of General-in-Chief was abolished with the creation of the statutory Chief of Staff of the Army in 1903.

Major-General Winfield Scott served as General-in-Chief since his victory over Mexico in 1848. Scott enjoyed a high reputation, but he was no longer capable of active command in the field. He devised the so-called “Anaconda Plan” which was executed as the successful war plan of the Union. President Abraham Lincoln had little knowledge or experience of military matters. Despite the acknowledged abilities of Scott, President Abraham Lincoln could not offer complete confidence in him, partly because of Scott’s advanced years and infirmity, and partly because of public and partisan pressures

Lincoln promoted George Brinton McClellan in Scott’s place, partly in response to public clamour after McClellan’s early victory in West Virginia, and partly because of McClellan’s reputation for success in many enterprises, including railroad construction. On 1 November 1861 Scott retired and was replaced by Major-General George Brinton McClellan. McClellan’s apparent prevarication and disagreements with the President led to his temporary relief from the duties as General-in-Chief on 17 March 1862, although he continued to retain command of the most important field army. His official permanent relief as General-in-Chief occurred on 22 July 1862. McClellan’s methodical strategy may have seemed militarily sound to McClellan, but it was unacceptable politically.

During McClellan’s temporary relief of command as General-in-Chief, Ethan Allen Hitchcock, who had been purposely promoted Major-General USV on 10 February 1862, was advanced from his role as Special Adviser to the Secretary of War, to become Chairman of the War Board. During the interregnum of General-in-Chief, Hitchcock performed the staff duties but not the command responsibility of the General-in-Chief. In the absence of a General-in-Chief the command role was taken by Lincoln.

It became clear by mid-1862 that it was not effective for the President to act as General-in-Chief. Lincoln turned to Henry Wager Halleck. Halleck held the highest command in the western theatre operations. Halleck was undistinguished as a field commander but was a talented administrator and had shown organisational sagacity. Major-General Henry Wager Halleck was appointed General-in-Chief on 11 July 1862 and took up the post of General-in-Chief on 23 July 1862. Lincoln struggled to exert concerted strategic direction even with Halleck’s aid.

Neither McClellan nor Halleck was on active service in the Regular Army when war broke out, and neither had advanced beyond the grade of Captain in the Regular Army. Their appointments were made in disregard of the existing rules of seniority and succession, based substantially on credentials acquired outside military service.

It was not until late 1863 that Lincoln identified Ulysses Simpson Grant as a commander he could entrust with supreme strategic direction of the war until it was won. Grant had not advanced beyond Captain in the Regular Army but, by the time he was appointed in 1864, he had the benefit of three years’ experience and of consistent success in increasingly demanding commands.

Ulysses Simpson Grant was identified as Halleck’s successor as General-in-Chief after his significant victories in the western theatre. Grant brought strategic vision and an outstanding record of field command to the role. The grade of Lieutenant-General was revived for Grant to give him seniority over all the more senior Major-Generals in the Army, including Halleck. Grant was promoted Lieutenant-General to rank from 2 March 1864 and he held the position of General-in-Chief until after the end of hostilities. Halleck, Grant’s former superior officer, stayed on and continued to serve effectively as Chief-of-Staff, dealing with the administrative burden and releasing Grant to give strategic leadership and to exercise field command in the eastern theatre.

The Pre-War US Regular Army

Prior to the Civil War the US Army system of promoting officers was based strongly but not exclusively upon seniority. Without the challenges of war to prove their merit and potential, the General Officers, chief staff officers and Colonels of the small pre-Civil War army tended to advance mostly by seniority. The army was small, and the high command was few in number; by 1861 many were of advanced age. Among the Colonels of the line, 11 of the 19 had fought as commissioned officers in the War of 1812, over fifty years earlier.

US Regular Army Officers General Officers in 1861

Scott, Winfield
Wool, John Ellis
Twiggs, David Emanuel
Harney, William Selby
Johnston, Joseph Eggleston
Sumner, Edwin Vose

US Regular Army Heads of Staff Departments in 1861

Gibson, George
Lawson, Thomas
Abert, John James
Totten, Joseph Gilbert
Churchill, Sylvester
Cooper, Samuel
Larned, Benjamin Franklin
Andrews, Timothy Patrick
Craig, Henry Knox
Lee, John Fitzgerald

Generals (US Regular Army) 1866 

The grade of General was never authorised in the United States Army during the Civil War. U S Grant was not appointed to the recreated grade of General until after hostilities on 25th July 1866, becoming the first officer in the US Army to hold that grade since George Washington.

Only two other Civil War generals later attained the rank of General in the US Army: W T Sherman and P H Sheridan.

On July 25 1866, the US Congress established the grade of “General of the Army of the United States” for General U S Grant. The General of the Army held all the authority and power of a 1799 proposal for a grade of “General of the Armies” even though Grant was never called by this title. Only one officer at a time could hold the grade of General of the Army. For a few months in 1885, as he was dying, Grant was accorded a special honour and his rank was restored by Congressional legislation.

After Grant became the US President, he was succeeded as General of the Army by W T Sherman, effective March 4 1869. By an Act of Congress, on June 1 1888, the grade was conferred exceptionally upon P H Sheridan, who was in failing health. The rank of General of the Army ceased to exist with Sheridan’s death on August 5 1888.

Lieutenant-Generals (US Regular Army) 1861-1891

The highest authorised grade during the war was Lieutenant-General. The grade of Lieutenant-General was first activated when Winfield Scott received a Brevet promotion to the grade in 1855 but nobody held the substantive grade until 2 March 1864 when U S Grant was appointed Lieutenant-General.

The grade of Lieutenant-General was revived in February 1864 to allow President Abraham Lincoln to promote U S Grant to the supreme command of the armies of the United States. Prior to this date the Union Army had only the two substantive grades of General Brigadier-General and Major-General. Only four more Civil War generals were later appointed as Lieutenant-General in the US Army.

After the war, Grant was promoted to General and his vacant Lieutenant-General grade was filled by W T Sherman. When Grant became President in 1869, Sherman succeeded him as General and P H Sheridan succeeded Sherman as Lieutenant-General.

Congress suspended further promotions to General and Lieutenant-General in 1870 but made an exception in 1888 to promote Sheridan on his deathbed by discontinuing the grade of Lieutenant-General and merging it with the grade of General.

In 1895, Congress briefly revived the grade of Lieutenant-General to promote Sheridan’s successor, J M Schofield as Commanding General of the Army. Schofield had lobbied for the grade to be permanently re-established in order to cement the primacy of all future Commanding Generals. However, Congress regarded the grade of Lieutenant-General as a penultimate military accolade, second only to promotion to General, and refused to devalue the title’s significance by conferring it on any future Commanding General less eminent than previous recipients. Schofield was promoted to Lieutenant-General as a personal honour eight months before he retired. In retirement, Schofield argued that the rank of Lieutenant-General ought to be permanently associated with the office of Commanding General, not with the individual officers occupying it, and that an officer serving as Commanding General should hold the rank of Lieutenant-General while so detailed but revert to his permanent grade of Major-General upon leaving office.

Over the next five decades, Schofield’s concept of Lieutenant-General as a temporary rank slowly prevailed over the concept of Lieutenant-General as a permanent personal grade. N A Miles was appointed Lieutenant-General USA in 1900 under the new arrangements.

The highest authorised rank during the war was Lieutenant-General. The grade of Lieutenant-General was first activated when Winfield Scott received a Brevet promotion to the grade in 1855 but nobody held the substantive grade until 2nd March 1864 when Ulysses Simpson Grant was appointed Lieutenant-General and de facto General-in-Chief. Prior to this date the Union Army had only two substantive grades of General Brigadier-General and Major-General. Four Civil War generals were later appointed as Lieutenant-General in the US Army.

The grade of Lieutenant-General was revived in February 1864 to allow President Abraham Lincoln to promote Ulysses Simpson Grant to the supreme command of the armies of the United States during the American Civil War. After the war, Grant was promoted to General and his vacant Lieutenant-General grade was filled by William Tecumseh Sherman.

When Grant became President in 1869, Sherman succeeded him as General and Philip Henry Sheridan succeeded Sherman as Lieutenant-General. Congress suspended further promotions to General and Lieutenant-General in 1870 but made an exception in 1888 to promote Sheridan on his deathbed by discontinuing the grade of Lieutenant-General and merging it with the grade of General.

In 1895, Congress briefly revived the grade of Lieutenant-General to promote Sheridan’s successor as Commanding General of the Army, John McAllister Schofield. Schofield had lobbied for the grade to be permanently re-established in order to cement the primacy of all future Commanding Generals. However, Congress regarded the grade of Lieutenant-General as a penultimate military accolade, second only to promotion to General, and refused to devalue the title’s significance by conferring it on any future Commanding General less eminent than previous recipients. Schofield was promoted to Lieutenant-General as a personal honour eight months before he / Retired. In retirement Schofield argued that the rank of Lieutenant-General ought to be permanently associated with the office of Commanding General, not the individual officers occupying it, and that an officer serving as Commanding General should hold the rank of Lieutenant-General while so detailed but revert to his permanent grade of Major-General upon leaving office. Over the next five decades, Schofield’s concept of Lieutenant-General as temporary rank would slowly prevail over the concept of Lieutenant-General as a permanent personal grade.

Major-Generals (Regular Army) 1861-1865

Major-Generals were nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Major-Generals could be appointed in the United States Regular Army (USA) or the United States Volunteers (USV). Major-Generals outranked Brigadier-Generals and all other lesser officers. Regular Army grades conferred seniority over equal grades in the US Volunteers.

Only one Major-General USA was in post at the outbreak of war (W Scott).

The Regular Army was eventually authorised to commission a total of five Major-Generals during 1861-1862. Three of the new vacancies were filled immediately by former Regular Army officers who had gained prominence in public life: G B McClellan, J C Frémont, and H W Halleck. Both McClellan and Frémont were relieved of duty during 1862 but did not resign until 1864, meaning that their posts were unavailable for assignment to other officers. Incumbent Brigadier-General USA J E Wool was promoted in 1863 to date from 1862 and retired immediately to release his post.

Subsequent appointments for Major-Generals USA were made to officers who had won decisive victories such as U S Grant after Vicksburg, W T Sherman after Atlanta, G G Meade after Spotsylvania (not Gettysburg), P H Sheridan after Cedar Creek, and G H Thomas after Nashville.

Many states designated the commander-in-chief of their State Militia, Home Guard, Reserve or similar local forces at the grade of Major-General. These officers had authority only within their State and were out-ranked by Generals of the USA and USV; few held active field commands. Major-Generals outranked Brigadier-Generals and all other lesser officers.

Major-Generals served in a few cases as staff officers to other Generals or as War Department staff officers. Most commanded Military Divisions, Military Departments, or the Military Districts within them; many served as commanders of Armies, Corps or, less often, of a Division.

Command of Armies and Army Corps was intended to be exercised by Major-Generals, although the temporary command of Army Corps was often exercised by Brigadier-Generals. The Union practice was not synonymous with the Confederacy’s use of the grade, and Union Major-Generals led divisions, corps and even armies, whereas the Confederates sought more strictly to assign General ranks to match the size of commands.

Until one Lieutenant-General was appointed in 1864, almost all the most important positions were held by Major-Generals. Their rank within the grade was determined by seniority since confirmation; however, the grade of Major-General in the USA Regular Army was deemed higher than the same grade in the US Volunteers. During the war, it became necessary to promote accomplished officers in the Regular Army in order that they could command fellow Major-Generals who had seniority over them in the US Volunteers.

The Army Corps or Corps formation was not authorised officially in the Union army until 17 July 1862. However, the term was already in frequent but unofficial use prior to this date. Roman numerals are used to designate a Corps following current convention e.g., XVIII Corps but this was not contemporary usage during the Civil War. At that time, they were normally designated by ordinal numbers, for example, Twenty-First Corps or Twelfth Corps.

Corps were initially numbered unofficially to describe large formations within an army; a I Corps, II Corps and a III Corps were named in the Army of the Potomac, and in the Army of Virginia, the Army of the Mississippi unofficially and the Army of the Cumberland. The term “Provisional Corps” was applied to V Corps and VI Corps in the Virginian theatre early in 1862. This meant that there was some duplication of the terms I Corps to VI Corps prior to the authorisation of the organisation. After official authorisation, Corps designations were regularised, and they were ultimately numbered officially and without duplication from I Corps to XXV Corps actually, First Corps to Twenty-Fifth Corps.

There were never twenty-five named and active Army Corps designations at one time, because as some Corps were broken up and reformed for temporary operations and sometimes the designation of their constituents became confused or anomalous. Several Corps were discontinued and some re-activated or transferred to new Departments. A few Corps remained in existence and comprised substantially similar constituent units from the early years almost until the end of the war e.g., II Corps, VI Corps; some others were short-lived. Most Corps were discontinued, merged, or significantly reorganised at least once, and some on several occasions. The transfer in and out of brigades or even divisions was common.

The informal term Wing was used occasionally to describe a group of Corps within an army but, confusingly, it could also be used for the constituent parts within a particular Corps e.g. XIII Corps and XIV Corps had Left Wing and Right Wing groups within them. In 1862, the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Tennessee were composed of a single designated Corps and their sub-units of Corps size were therefore termed as Wings. The XVI Corps was divided during 1863 and 1864 into two Wings, while they operated in separate theatres of war. It was usual for forces of more than one Corps to be termed an Army.

Some Corps numbers were discontinued and revived again with similar forces in the same theatre or the term re-assigned to wholly different forces and in a different theatre e.g. IV Corps. Some Corps only ever served within one field army or Department while others e.g. IX Corps were transferred from Department to Department. Some Corps designations referred to field forces that never operated as integrated field commands but were largely administrative commands, overseeing reinforcements, training or garrisons or local forces e.g., VIII Corps, XVI Corps.

Divisions were created early in the war to group brigades together under one command. They were usually numbered 1st Division, 2nd Division or 3rd Division within an Army and, fairly quickly, numbered within a Corps. On occasion, especially early in the war, divisions had a named designation, e.g. Kanawha Division or Coast Division, especially when operating independently. Early in the war some divisions in the western theatre were numbered across the Army or Department but it soon became standard practice to number within a Corps. The standard organisation was for a Corps to have three Divisions but almost as many Corps had only two divisions; some Corps were organised with four divisions, but they rarely and only temporarily had more than four.

Of the ten Major-Generals (USA) appointed during the war:

One progressed to Lieutenant-General USA:
U S Grant

Two resigned to enter politics:
G B McClellan, J C Frémont

Two retired:
W Scott, J E Wool

Five remained in post and grade at the end of the War:
H W Halleck, W T Sherman, G G Meade, P H Sheridan, G H Thomas.

W S Hancock and A H Terry were promoted to Major-General USA during 1866.

The following dates in brackets indicate years of all appointments of substantive Civil War Generals to Major-General USA, during and after the war

(Brig-Gen USV, Maj-Gen USV, Brig-Gen USA, Maj-Gen USA, Lt-Gen USA, and Gen USA).
A dash indicates not promoted to that grade.

Major-Generals USA promoted to Lieutenant-General USA during the war:

U S Grant                             (1861, 1862, -, 1863, 1864, 1866)

Major-Generals USA promoted to Lieutenant-General USA after the war:

W T Sherman                     (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1866, 1869)
P H Sheridan                      (1862, 1862, 1864, 1864, 1869, 1888)

Officers promoted to Major-General USA and Lieutenant-General USA after the war:

J M Schofield                     (1861, 1862, 1864, 1869, 1895)
N A Miles                            (1864, 1865, 1880, 1890, 1900)

Incumbent Major-Generals USA in post the end of the War

H W Halleck                       (-, -, -, 1861)
W T Sherman                     (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1866, 1869)
G G Meade                          (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864)
P H Sheridan                      (1862, 1862, 1864, 1864, 1869, 1888)
G H Thomas                       (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864)

Retired as Major-General USA during the war

W Scott                                 (-, -, 1814, 1841)
J E Wool                              (-, -, 1841, 1862)

Resigned as Major-General USA during the war

G B McClellan                    (-, -, -, 1861)
J C Frémont                        (-, -, -, 1861)

Officers promoted to Major-General USA after the war:

W S Hancock                      (1861, 1862, 1864, 1866)
A H Terry                            (1862, 1865, 1865, 1866)
I McDowell                         (-, 1862, 1861, 1872)
J Pope                                   (1862, 1862, 1862, 1886)
O O Howard                       (1861, 1862, 1864, 1886)
G Crook                                (1862, 1864, 1873, 1888)
A M McCook                       (1861, 1862, 1890, 1894)
T H Ruger                           (1862, -, 1886, 1895)
W Merritt                            (1863, -, 1887, 1895)
J R Brooke                          (1864, -, 1888, 1897)
F Wheaton                          (1862, -, 1892, 1897)
J W Forsyth                        (1865, -, 1894, 1897)

Major-Generals (US Volunteers) 1861-1865 

During the American Civil War, the bulk of the Union Army was composed of volunteer forces raised by individual states and led by federally appointed Major-Generals of volunteers (USV). They ranked above Brigadier-Generals in both the Regular Army and the US Volunteers but below Major-Generals in the Regular Army. Some were promoted concurrently or at other times to General Officer grades in the Regular Army.

Listed in order of seniority as Major-General USV:

One Major-General USV was promoted to Maj-Gen USA and Lt-Gen USA during the war:
U S Grant

Four Major-Generals USV were promoted to Maj-Gen USA:
G H Thomas, W T Sherman, G G Meade, P H Sheridan

Six Major-Generals USV were promoted concurrently to Brig-Gen USA during the war:
J Pope, J Hooker, O O Howard, W S Hancock, J M Schofield, A H Terry

Seven Major-Generals USV were Killed in Action:
I I Stevens, P Kearny, J Sedgwick, J L Reno, J B McPherson, J F Reynolds, H G Berry

Three Major-Generals USV Died of Wounds:
I B Richardson, J K F Mansfield, A W Whipple

Six Major-Generals USV Died in Service:
C F Smith, O M Mitchel, E V Sumner, W Nelson, D B Birney, J Buford

Forty-three Major-Generals USV Mustered Out of USV:
N P Banks, D Hunter, E A Hitchcock, W S Rosecrans, D C Buell, S R Curtis, E O C Ord, S P Heintzelman, S Casey, J J Peck, F G Foster, J G Parke, C C Augur, S A Hurlbut, G Granger, G Stoneman, D E Sickles, R H Milroy, D Butterfield, G Sykes, D S Stanley, F Steele, A Doubleday, J G Blunt, G L Hartsuff, J J Reynolds, A Pleasonton, A A Humphreys, E R S Canby, H G Wright, A J Smith, J Gibbon, P J Osterhaus, J A Mower, G Crook, G Weitzel, W B Hazen, J W Geary, T J Wood, C Griffin, G A Custer, J H Wilson, B H Grierson

Thirty-nine Major-Generals USV Resigned from USV:
J A Dix, B F Butler, E D Morgan, A E Burnside, F Sigel, J A McClernand, L Wallace, C M Clay, G Cadwalader, E D Keyes, W B Franklin, D N Couch, H W Slocum, A M McCook, T L Crittenden, R C Schenck, C S Hamilton, L H Rousseau, B M Prentiss, W H French, J S Negley, J M Palmer, N J T Dana, R J Oglesby, J A Logan, C C Washburn, F J Herron, F P Blair, J Stahel, C Schurz, G K Warren, Q A Gillmore, W F Smith, J B Steedman, G M Dodge, J D Cox, H E Davies, F C Barlow, G Mott

One Major-General USV was Dismissed:
F J Porter

Four Major-Generals USV permanently Reverted to Lower Grade:
W W Burns, N B Buford, J Newton, W T H Brooks

Brigadier-Generals (US Regular Army Line Appointments) 1861-1865

This list only includes appointments as Brigadier-General USA in the “Line”. Appointments to the “Staff” are listed after Brigadier-Generals USV as Generals in Staff Departments did not have field command authority over Brigadier-Generals USV.

Early wartime vacancies in the Regular Army grade of Brigadier-General in the “Line” were filled on the basis of pre-war experience or seniority, including E V Sumner, P S Cooke, R Anderson, I McDowell, and W S Rosecrans. J F K Mansfield transferred from staff to line command. All of these were long standing officers of the pre-war Army. Pre-war Brigadier-General USA D E Twiggs was dismissed after defecting to the Confederacy. J E Wool was promoted on retirement to Major-General in 1863, ranking from 1862.  W S Harney was suspected of pro-Confederate sympathies and retired in 1863.

From mid-1862 onwards, permanent commissions as Regular Army Brigadier-General were being granted to successful volunteer generals, many of whom had been civilians or junior Regular officers before the war. Such appointments went to W T Sherman, G H Thomas, W S Hancock J Pope, G G Meade, J B McPherson, P H Sheridan J  M Schofield, J Hooker and O O Howard — all of whom were already serving as Major-General USV, Promotion also went to the former civilian A H Terry, a Brigadier-General USV. Three officers were promoted to Brigadier-General USA shortly after the end of the war, namely E O C Ord on 26 July 1866, E R S Canby on 28 July 1866, and L H Rousseau on 28 March 1867. All had been holding significant independent commands.

Notably, U S Grant was never promoted to Brigadier-General USA but was elevated directly to Major-General USA without holding that intervening grade.

The following dates indicate years of appointment to

(Brig-Gen USV, Maj-Gen USV, Brig-Gen USA, Maj-Gen USA, Lt-Gen USA, and Gen USA).
A dash indicates not promoted to that grade. Three officers Retired during the war: D E Twiggs, W S Harney, and P S Cooke.

Brigadier-Generals USA Killed in Action: J K F Mansfield, J B McPherson

Brigadier-Generals USA Died in Service: E V Sumner

Brigadier-Generals USA promoted to Major-General USA during the war: J E Wool

Brigadier-Generals USA Retired: W S Harney, R Anderson, P S Cooke

Brigadier-General USA Dismissed: D E Twiggs.

Incumbent Brigadier-Generals USA in post the end of the War and promoted post-war to Major-General USA and Lieutenant-General USA:

J M Schofield                     (1861, 1862, 1864)

Incumbent Brigadier-Generals USA in post the end of the War and promoted post-war to Major-General USA:

W S Hancock                      (1861, 1862, 1864, 1866)
A H Terry                            (1862, 1865, 1865, 1866)
I McDowell                         (-, 1862, 1861, 1872)
J Pope                                   (1862, 1862, 1862, 1886)
O O Howard                       (1861, 1862, 1864, 1886)

Incumbent Brigadier-Generals USA at the end of the War and not subsequently promoted:

J Hooker                              (1861, 1862, 1862)

Officers promoted to Brigadier-General USA and Major-General USA after the war:

G Crook                                (1862, 1864, 1873, 1888)
A M McCook                       (1861, 1862, 1890, 1894)
T H Ruger                           (1862, -, 1886, 1895)
W Merritt                            (1863, -, 1887, 1895)
J R Brooke                          (1864, -, 1888, 1897)
F Wheaton                          (1862, -, 1892, 1897)
J W Forsyth                        (1865, -, 1894, 1897)

Officers promoted to Brigadier-General USA after the war:

E O C Ord                            (1861, 1862, 1866)
O B Willcox                         (1861, -, 1866)
E R S Canby                        (1862, 1864, 1866)
L H Rousseau                    (1861. 1862, 1867)
C C Augur                            (1861, 1862, 1868)
B Alvord                               (1862, -, 1876)
R B Marcy                            (1862, -, 1878)
R S Mackenzie                   (1864, -, 1882)
J Newton                             (1861, 1863, 1884)
D S Stanley                         (1861, 1862, 1884)
J Gibbon                              (1862, 1864, 1885)
J H Potter                            (1865, -, 1886)
W Merritt                            (1863, -, 1887)
W S Rosecrans                   (1861, 1862, 1889)
B H Grierson                      (1863, 1865, 1890)
A V Kautz                            (1864, -, 1891)
E A Carr                                (1862, -, 1892)
W P Carlin                           (1862, -, 1893)
J H Wilson                          (1863, 1865, 1901)

Brigadier-General (US Volunteers) 1861-1865

The overwhelming majority of Civil War Brigadier-Generals were appointed to that grade only in the volunteer service (USV), and hundreds of wartime generals relinquished their grades when the volunteers were mustered out after the war.

Brigadier-Generals were nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Brigadier-Generals could be appointed in the United States Regular Army (USA) or United States Volunteers (USV). Rank within the grade was determined by seniority since confirmation; however, the grade of Brigadier-General in the USA Regular Army was deemed higher than the same grade in the US Volunteers.

Some states appointed Brigadier-Generals in the State Militia, Home Guard, Reserve and similar local forces. These had authority only within their own state and were out-ranked by Generals of the USA and USV; few held active senior commands. Brigadier-Generals outranked all other lesser officers.

Brigadier-Generals served in a few cases as staff officers to other Generals or as staff officers. Some commanded Military Districts or temporarily commanded Military Departments; some served temporarily as commanders of Corps within a field army. The majority commanded divisions or brigades.

The organisation of regiments into brigades was already authorised. Appointment to brigade permanent command in the Confederate Army was usually accompanied by promotion to the commensurate rank of Brigadier-General. It was intended in the Union Army similarly that brigades of infantry and cavalry should be commanded by a Brigadier-General but frequently they were commanded by their senior Colonel. Brigadier-Generals were appointed later in the war to command concentrations of artillery and to some senior staff positions. Rank in the USA and USV offered a degree of differentiation but the effect of this was far less distinct than in the Confederate Army where four grades of General Officer matched the size and importance of their commands.

Union practice was not synonymous with the Confederacy’s use of the rank, and Union Brigadier-Generals led brigades, divisions, or even Corps temporarily.

Rank within the grade was determined by seniority since confirmation; however, the grade of Brigadier-General in the USA Regular Army was deemed higher than the same grade in the US Volunteers. During the war, it became necessary to promote accomplished officers in the Regular Army in order that they could command fellow Brigadier-Generals who had seniority over them in the US Volunteers.

Brigades were usually numbered within a division or other command e.g. 1st Brigade, 2nd Brigade. Informal practice was to name them after their commander e.g. “Opdycke’s Brigade” but this was usually only for convenience and clarity. Even where they were named, they were usually also numbered, and usage would alternate. Sometime a brigade, especially on detached operations, would have a territorial designation.

Within a Brigade, each Regiment was commanded by a Colonel, supported at full strength by a Lieutenant-Colonel and a Major. In the absence of the appointed Brigadier-General, the senior Colonel of the brigade would command the Brigade. The connection between an individual’s grade and his command was less pronounced than in the Confederate army, and it was common for brigade command to be exercised by a Colonel rather than a Brigadier-General.

This particular list does not include post-war promotions to higher grades.

Brigadier-Generals USV Killed in Action, in order of seniority:
N Lyon, T Williams, P A Hackleman, H Bohlen, J W Sill, J S Jackson, C F Jackson, A Hays, D A Russell, W H Lytle, T G Stevenson, J C Rice, C G Harker, H Burnham, D D Bidwell, T A Smyth

Brigadier-Generals USV Died of Wounds, in order of seniority:
J S Wadsworth, W H L Wallace, R L McCook, G D Bayard, I P Rodman, E N Kirk, G C Strong, S K Zook, T E G Ransom, S A Rice, D McCook

Brigadier-Generals USV Died in Service, in order of seniority:
F W Lander, J Cooper, M Corcoran, C D Jameson, S Williams, G Wright, J B Plummer, J H Lane, W H Keim, D P Woodbury, F E Patterson, G W Taylor, A Schimmelfennig, M M Crocker, T Welsh

Brigadier-Generals USV promoted during the war to Major-General USV, Major-General USA and Lieutenant-General USA:
U S Grant

Brigadier-Generals USV promoted during the war to Brigadier-General USA, Major-General USV and Major-General USA, in order of seniority:
W T Sherman, G H Thomas, G G Meade, P H Sheridan

Brigadier-Generals USV promoted during the war to Major-General USV and Brigadier-General USA, in order of seniority:
J Hooker, J Pope, O O Howard, W S Hancock, J M Schofield, A H Terry, J B McPherson

Brigadier-Generals USV promoted during the war to Major-General USV, in order of seniority:
S P Heintzelman, D Hunter, E D Keyes, W B Franklin, D C Buell, P Kearny, S R Curtis, C S Hamilton, D N Couch, J D Cox, S A Hurlbut, F Sigel, R C Schenck, B M Prentiss, J A McClernand, I B Richardson, A E Burnside, H W Slocum, J J Peck, O M Mitchel, G Stoneman, W F Smith, J F Reynolds, J Sedgwick, C F Smith, S Casey, A M McCook, D E Sickles, R H Milroy, L Wallace, D Butterfield, H G Wright, E O C Ord, W Nelson, T L Crittenden, I I Stevens, G Sykes, W H French, D S Stanley, L H Rousseau, J S Negley, T J Wood, J G Foster, C C Augur, J L Reno, J Stahel, J G Parke, J M Palmer, F Steele, A Doubleday, N J T Dana, D B Birney, A J Smith, H G Berry, R J Oglesby, J A Logan, G Granger, E R S Canby, G M Dodge, J G Blunt, Q A Gillmore, A W Whipple, G L Hartsuff, C Schurz, A A Humphreys, J Gibbon, C Griffin, P J Osterhaus, A Pleasonton, C C Washburn, F J Herron, J B Steedman, J Buford, F P Blair, G Weitzel, G Crook, G Mott, J J Reynolds, F C Barlow, G K Warren, W B Hazen, J W Geary, J A Mower, B H Grierson, G A Custer, H E Davies, J H Wilson

Brigadier-Generals USV Mustered Out, in order of seniority:
A Porter, C P Stone, T W Sherman, A S Williams, J B Ricketts, O B Willcox, H H Lockwood, G W Morell, S D Sturgis, H W Benham, W F Barry, J J Abercrombie, L P Graham, W A Gorman, W T Ward, J G Barnard, I N Palmer, J Newton, J Brannan, J P Hatch, A F Schoepf, R W Johnson, G W Cullum, T J McKean, Z B Tower, J C Davis, W S Ketchum, J W Davidson, H M Naglee, E A Carr, T A Davies, W H Emory, H M Judah, J Cook, J McArthur, J G Lauman, H P Van Cleve, S S Fry, A Asboth, R B Mitchell, C Grover, R Saxton, N B Buford, N Kimball, C Devens, S W Crawford, H W Wessells, J W Geary, J H Carleton, A Baird, J C Robinson, T Seymour, H Prince, J C Veatch, W P Benton, J C Caldwell, G S Greene, S P Carter, E B Tyler, G H Gordon, W L Elliott, A P Howe, B S Roberts, F Warren, C Cruft, F Salomon, H S Briggs, J D Morgan, A Willich, J R Kenly, J P Slough, H J Hunt, M Brayman, N J Jackson, G W Getty, A Sully, J H H Ward, S Meredith, E P Scammon, R S Granger, J R West, G L Andrews, C B Fisk, W Hays, I Vogdes, L C Hunt, F Wheaton, J S Mason, R O Tyler, A T A Torbert, W Dwight, S A Meredith. W Vandever, C K Graham, J E Smith, H B Carrington, J H King, A J Slemmer, T H Neill, T G Pitcher, T W Sweeny, W P Carlin, R B Ayres, J S Morton, R Arnold, M K Lawler, G D Wagner, J F Knipe, J D Stevenson, J Barnes, T T Garrard, S Beatty, E H Hobson, W H Morris, T H Ruger, E S Dennis, T C H Smith, D Tillson, G F McGinnis, H B Ewing, D Ullmann, H Baxter, C T Campbell, R B Potter, H H Sibley, J B Carr, J J Bartlett, P E Connor, J P Hawkins, G R Paul, E A Wild, A Ames, W Birney, D H Rucker, R Allen, R Ingalls, A Shaler, H J Kilpatrick, A S Webb, A N A Duffié, W C Whitaker, W Merritt, W D Whipple, K Garrard, C R Woods, J B Sanborn, G A Smith, J A Maltby, T K Smith, W Q Gresham, M F Force, J M Corse, J A Rawlins, A C Gillem, J W Turner, A B Underwood, A L Chetlain, W A Pile, P R D de K De Trobriand, C Bussey, C C Andrews, E M McCook, L A Grant, E Hatch, A V Kautz, F Fessenden J F Hartranft, S S Carroll, S G Griffin, E Upton, N A Miles, J Hayes, B R Pierce, S Connor, J L Chamberlain, E W Rice, W F Bartlett, E S Bragg, M D Hardin, C J Paine, G A De Russy, J B McIntosh, J A Cooper, J W Sprague, C C Walcutt, W W Belknap, J A Haskin, J D Fessenden, E Long, T W Egan, J R Hawley, I H Duval, J Edwards, T C Devin, A Gibbs, R S Mackenzie, J R Slack, T K Lucas, E J Davis, G L Beal, H G Thomas, C Hamlin, J M Oliver, R K Scott, J S Robinson, B F Potts, J A Williamson, N M Curtis, C C Doolittle, S Thomas, J I Gilbert, S J Stolbrand, W Swayne, S Van Vliet, T M Harris, F T Dent, J H Potter, J S Brisbin, J M Warner, L B Parsons, O Edwards, J E Hamblin, W Wells, R H Jackson, J W Forsyth, C H Morgan, A V Rice, W B Woods, W T Clark, R F Catterson

Brigadier-Generals USV Resigned, in order of seniority:
G A McCall, W R Montgomery, J W Phelps, R King, B F Kelley, J H Martindale, J W Denver, E L Vielé, J Shields, A Duryée, E A Paine, E Dumont, W T H Brooks, W W Burns, W K Strong, A W A F Von Steinwehr, J T Boyle, S Hamilton, G W Morgan, J A Garfield, L G Arnold, T F Meagher, A Johnson, D Tyler, M R Patrick, I F Quinby, O S Ferry, J Craig, M D Manson, B Alvord, W S Smith, M S Hascall, L F Ross, A S Piatt, T T Crittenden, M Weber, J C Sullivan, A P Hovey, N Dow, J M Tuttle, J White, S G Burbridge, G C Smith, W B Campbell, J Ammen, C P Buckingham, M L Smith, J Cochrane, J B Turchin, H D Terry, G F Shepley, H Haupt, T L Kane, W W Averell, C E Pratt, F B Spinola, J Bowen, J W Revere, A W Ellet, D M Gregg, G Marston, N C McLean, J T Copeland, C A Heckman, S G Champlin, E E Potter, E W Hinks, L Cutler, E Harland, I J Wistar, F S Nickerson, R P Buckland, J D Webster, W W Orme, W Harrow, J Beatty, M D Leggett, H Tyndale, C C Dodge, A L Lee, C L Matthies, E B brown, J McNeil, G W Deitzler, J W McMillan, J M Shackelford, G J Stannard, J Nagle, F L Vinton, J M Thayer, H E Paine, H T Reid, A C Harding, T Ewing, J A J Lightburn, R S Foster, J C Starkweather, R A Cameron, J T Owen, H L Eustis, A J Hamilton, H W Birge, J H Ledlie, T F Meagher, J W Fuller, J F Miller, J R Brooke, T A Rowley, G H Chapman, W Grose, J T Croxton, J W Reilly, L P Bradley, W H Seward, F Van Derveer, W H Powell, R B Hayes, J Bailey, P H Jones, J G Mitchell, G B Raum, G Pennypacker, C Ewing, J H Ketcham, T O Osborn, H A Barnum

Brigadier-Generals USV Discharged, Dismissed, Cashiered, Dropped, or otherwise Terminated, in order of seniority:
L Blenker, J G Spears

Brigadier-Generals USV Refused, Rejected or Declined after confirmation:
T L Price

Brigadier-Generals USV Reverted to lower grade, in order of seniority:
R C Buchanan, W B Krzyzanowski, J A Hardie, I N Haynie, F S Stumbaugh, D Stuart, J B S Todd, E Ferrero, A Chambers, P Clayton

Post-War Promotions to Brigadier-General USV during 1865: F T Sherman, G P Este, W H Penrose, J H Stokes, S E Opdycke, W Gamble, L D Watkins, C H Van Wyck, W B Tibbitts, M H Chrysler, J A Dewey

Brigadier-Generals (US Regular Army Staff Appointments)

Most of the Army’s wartime chiefs of staff departments were elevated to the rank of Brigadier-General of the “Staff”, including the Adjutant-General, the Chief of Ordnance, the Surgeon-General, the Commissary General of Subsistence, the Chief of Engineers, and the Judge Advocate General. In 1864 James Barnet Fry was appointed Provost Marshal-General with the rank of Brigadier-General to administer the non-Regular Army volunteers and draftees; uniquely among General Officers of this era, Fry lost his rank when his office was abolished after the volunteers were disbanded in 1866.

Officers of the “Staff” did not hold any seniority in the Army Lists and were always deemed junior to any “Line” Officer of any grade. Their grade and seniority held force only within their particular Bureau of branch of the Staff. They are therefore listed after Line Officers in this resource, but did not hold any seniority in terms of field or territorial command unless transferred permanently or temporarily to a “Line” command.

In 1865, Congress established the office of Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant-General with the grade of Brigadier-General USA as a mechanism to transfer Brigadier-General of Volunteers John Aaron Rawlins to the Regular Army so that he could continue to serve as Lieutenant-General Ulysses Simpson Grant’s principal military assistant after the war. However, the Regular Army commission was not confirmed and the post was terminated when Rawlins became President Grant’s first Secretary of War in 1869.

Brigadier-Generals USA (Staff) died in service during the war:
J P Taylor, J Totten

Brigadier-Generals USA (Staff) retired during the war:
H K Craig, J W Ripley, G D Ramsey

Brigadier-Generals USA (Staff) resigned during the war:
J E Johnston

Brigadier-Generals USA (Staff) dismissed during the war:
W A Hammond

Brigadier-Generals USA (Staff) in service at the end of the war:
M C Meigs, L Thomas, J B Fry, R Delafield, J Holt, A B Eaton, J K Barnes, A B Dyer

Brigadier-General (US Regular Army Staff) Unconfirmed:
J A Rawlins

Promotions to Brigadier-General USA (Staff) occurring after 1865:

A A Humphreys                (1862, 1863, 1866)           Staff
W B Hazen                          (1862, 1864, 1880)           Staff
D H Rucker                         (1865, -, 1882)                   Staff
R Ingalls                              (1863, -, 1882)                   Staff
A Baird                                 (1862, -, 1885)                   Staff

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