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George Stoneman

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George Stoneman

George Stoneman, Jr.
15th Governor of California
In office
January 10, 1883 – January 8, 1887
Lieutenant John Daggett
Preceded by George C. Perkins
Succeeded by Washington Bartlett
Personal details
Born (1822-08-08)August 8, 1822
Busti, New York
Died September 5, 1894(1894-09-05) (aged 72)
Buffalo, New York
Political party Democratic
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Union
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1846 - 1871
Rank Major General
Commands III Corps
Cavalry Corps
XXIII Corps
Battles/wars American Civil War

George Stoneman, Jr. (August 8, 1822 – September 5, 1894) was a George B. McClellan, who did not appreciate the use of centralised cavalry, and was therefore outperformed by the Confederates, who did.

At Chancellorsville, under Joseph Hooker, Stoneman failed in an ambitious attempt to penetrate behind enemy lines, getting bogged down at an important river crossing. Hooker's sharp criticism of Stoneman may have been partly aimed at deflecting the heavy blame being directed at himself for the loss of this major battle that most generals believed to be winnable.

While commanding cavalry under The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

Stoneman was governor of California between 1883 and 1887.

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • Civil War service 2
    • Stoneman's Raid 2.1
  • Postbellum politics 3
  • California 4
  • Legacy 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Stoneman was born on a family farm in justice of the peace, and Catherine Rebecca Cheney. He studied at the Jamestown Academy and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1846; his roommate at West Point was future Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. His first assignment was with the 1st U.S. Dragoons, with which he served across the West and in California. He was the quartermaster of the Mormon Battalion, which marched from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to San Diego, California. He fought in the Yuma War and was responsible for survey parties mapping the Sierra Nevada range for railroad lines. After promotion to captain of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry in March 1855, he served mainly in Texas until 1861.

Civil War service

Union Cavalry General George Stoneman

At the start of the Civil War Stoneman was in command of Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles of 1862, where the centralized Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart seriously outperformed their Union counterparts.

On November 22, 1861, Stoneman married Mary Oliver Hardisty of Baltimore. They eventually had four children.

After the Peninsula, Stoneman was an infantry commander, commanding a division in the II Corps and the III Corps. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Stoneman commanded the III Corps. He was promoted to major general of volunteers on November 29, 1862. However, following Fredericksburg, a new commanding general took over the Army of the Potomac: Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Hooker had a better understanding of the strategic value of a centralized Cavalry Corps and he named Stoneman to lead it. The centralized corps could undertake long raids into enemy territory, destroying supplies, and gathering intelligence about the enemy forces. They were not subject to the commanders of small infantry units.

Union General George Stoneman & staff, 1863.

Stoneman's Raid

The plan for the Battle of Chancellorsville was strategically daring. Hooker assigned Stoneman a key role in which his Cavalry Corps would raid deeply into Robert E. Lee's rear areas and destroy vital railroad lines and supplies, distracting Lee from Hooker's main assaults. However, Stoneman was a disappointment in this strategic role. The Cavalry Corps got off to a good start in May 1863, but quickly bogged down after crossing the Rapidan River. During the entire battle, Stoneman accomplished little and Hooker considered him one of the principal reasons for the Union defeat at Chancellorsville.[1] Hooker needed to deflect criticism from himself and relieved Stoneman from his cavalry command, sending him back to Washington, D.C., for medical treatment (chronic hemorrhoids, exacerbated by cavalry service),[2] where in July he became a Chief of the U.S. Cavalry Bureau, a desk job. A large cavalry supply and training depot on the Potomac River was named Camp Stoneman in his honor.

In early 1864, Stoneman was impatient with garrison duty in Washington and requested another field command from his old friend Maj. Gen. prisoner of war. He was a prisoner for three months.

Stoneman was exchanged relatively quickly based on the personal request of Sherman to the Confederates and he returned to duty. In December 1864, he led a raid from East Tennessee into southwestern Virginia. He led raids into Virginia and North Carolina in 1865, took Salem, Martinsville, and other towns, destroyed Moratock Iron Furnace (a Confederate foundry) and at Salisbury attempted to free about 1,400 prisoners, but the prisoners had been dispersed by the time he arrived in Salisbury. In recognition of his service, he was brevetted major general in the regular army. His command nearly captured Confederate president Jefferson Davis during his flight from Richmond, Virginia. In June 1865, he was appointed commander of the Department of Tennessee and administered occupied Memphis. The Memphis riots broke out among the still rebellious citizens who were angry at the presence of African-American Federal soldiers in the military government. Stoneman was criticized for inaction and was investigated by a congressional committee, although he was exonerated.

Postbellum politics

In 1866, Stoneman became opposed to the radical policies of Reconstruction and joined the Democratic Party. As he administered the military government in Petersburg, Virginia, he established a reputation of applying more moderate policies than some of the other military governors in Reconstruction, which eased some of the reconciliation pain for white Virginians. He mustered out of volunteer service, in September 1866, and reverted to his regular army rank of lieutenant colonel. He took command of the Department of Arizona, First Military District, headquartered at Drum Barracks. He was a controversial commander in that role because of his dealings with Indian uprisings and he was relieved of his command in May 1871.

California

Official portrait of Governor George Stoneman

Stoneman moved to California, the place of which he had dreamed since his service as a young officer before the war. He and his wife settled in the San Gabriel Valley on a 400-acre (160 ha) estate called Los Robles, which is now a state historical landmark.[3] He was a state railroad commissioner from 1876 to 1878. In 1882, he was elected governor of California as a Democrat and served a single four-year term. He was not renominated by his party for a second term. After his house was destroyed by fire, an event rumored to be the work of his political enemies, Stoneman was broken financially and in poor health. He returned to New York State for medical treatment. He died following a stroke in Buffalo, New York, and is buried in the Bentley Cemetery in Lakewood, New York.

Legacy

Stoneman has been memorialized by songwriter Robbie Robertson of The Band, whose 1969 rock and roll song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" referred to one of Stoneman's 1865 raids:

Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train,
Till Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again ...

Stoneman is not mentioned in the 1971 recording of the song by Joan Baez, in which she substitutes "so much cavalry" for "Stoneman's cavalry". Baez told Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone magazine that she had learned the song by listening to the track on The Band's album. Having never seen the printed lyrics, she sang the words as she had (mis)heard them.[4]

Stoneman Avenue in Southern Tier Brewery, is located on the Stoneman family farm in the town of Busti, New York.

General Stoneman's name is engraved on the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Park Star of Honor due to his time there before the Civil War.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Sears, p. 440.
  2. ^ Gerleman, p. 1874.
  3. ^ California State Parks, Office of Historic Preservation (2012). "Governor Stoneman Adobe, Los Robles". State of California. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Loder, Kurt (1983-04-14). "Joan Baez: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone (393). 
  5. ^ Stoneman Elementary School
  6. ^ Hutchings' guide Yo Semite Valley and Big Trees (1895) and Ohe Hundred years in Yosemite (C.P. Russell, 1947)

References

 
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Gerleman, David J. "George H. Stoneman, Jr." In Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-393-04758-X.
  • Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. ISBN 0-395-87744-X.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.

Further reading

  • "George Stoneman, 1883-1887", The Governors' Gallery,  
  • "California Military History: Californians and the Military", MilitaryMuseum.org (  
  • Fordney, Ben Fuller. George Stoneman: A Biography of the Union General. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7864-3225-7.

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
George C. Perkins
Governor of California
1883–1887
Succeeded by
Washington Bartlett
Military offices
Preceded by
Samuel P. Heintzelman
Commander of the III Corps
October 30, 1862 – February 5, 1863
Succeeded by
Daniel E. Sickles
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