Question of the Week: 1/9-1/15/23

Who is your favorite West Point graduate who is part of American Civil War history?



21 Responses to Question of the Week: 1/9-1/15/23

  1. Stonewall Jackson. Because he showed that people who aren’t brilliant, but who bust their asses, can succeed. In his first years at West Point his grades stunk. But he worked hard, even obsessively, to improve himself. And he was dedicated to improving himself. He wasn’t content to slack off and just get by. By the end of his time at West Point, his grades had improved to the point where he was comfortably in the middle of his class.

  2. Before the Team of Grant & Sherman, there was the Team of Slemmer and Gilman, on active duty end of 1860 with the U.S. Army, 1st U.S. Artillery, based at Fort Barrancas, Florida. First Lieutenant Adam Slemmer, USMA Class of 1850 and Second Lieutenant Jeremiah Gilman, USMA Class of 1856 accidentally became the senior Army officers charged with defence of Pensacola Bay when the Commander of the Post, Major John H. Winder departed on leave in 1860… and never returned. And then, South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed soon after by rumors that Mississippi and Florida were preparing to do likewise. What to do? Slemmer and Gilman only had fifty soldiers assigned, with which to defend four strong masonry forts; and obviously a dozen artillerists at each fort would simply be overwhelmed sequentially by Rebels intent on seizing those facilities. The U.S. Navy had a presence on Pensacola Bay: two mid-sized warships on active service, one of which frequently had to tow the other when the wind was too light, and the Pensacola Navy Yard, all of which was subject to the orders of Commodore James Armstrong, who had his HQ at the Navy Yard. Early in January 1861, Slemmer and Gilman frequently journeyed the mile or two to meet with Commodore Armstrong and formulate plans for the pending crisis; and Armstrong appeared to support Slemmer’s decision to remove his entire command from Fort Barrancas to the much stronger Fort Pickens, across the bay on the tip of Santa Rosa Island. But, as the Florida State Legislature discussed secession, Armstrong got spooked, and decided to do nothing that would require armed defence of the Navy Yard. And Slemmer, relying upon the Navy to ferry his men, arms and ammunition across the bay, appeared stranded at Fort Barrancas. But, on the morning of 10 January, USS Wyandotte steamed to the wharf at Fort Barrancas, loaded aboard Slemmer and his command, and ferried them across to Santa Rosa Island. That same day, Florida seceded from the Union, following Mississippi. Soon after, Commodore Armstrong surrendered the Pensacola Navy Yard… although, to his credit, Armstrong did allow thirty sailors to volunteer to join Slemmer and Gilman before finalizing the surrender.
    And Slemmer and Gilman and their force of eighty men held Fort Pickens for the Union.

  3. Abner Doubleday, because of Baseball and the Hall of Fame being in Cooperstown, NY, the birthplace of Baseball. He lived for just that moment at Gettysburg.

    Ranald Mckenzie, the only Union Civil War soldier who had a TV series based on his exploits, during the 1950s

  4. Mine is a group: Justin Dimick, Edmund Kirby, Charles Hazlett, and Alonzo Cushing USMA ’61. They represent the young West Point grads who ended up being assigned to command of Union artillery batteries and paid the ultimate sacrifice at their guns in defense of their country and their oath.

  5. I do not have a Civil War or West Point ‘favorite’ among those who were in it or affiliated with it, but I always find Custer a compelling figure. While attending the Academy, everything about him screamed “screw up” as far as his apparent character. Nothing suggested that he would ever achieve any kind of success. He was absolutely the proverbial “Hell-raiser” while there. ?Yet he always seemed to be guided by a ‘lucky star’ while at West Point. Within a couple of years after barely, and I do mean BARELY, graduating, he had put together and admirable record in the Civil War. And he really wasn’t much more than a kid age-wise.

  6. A.P.Hill because it sounds like he had a good time in school . West Point must have been wild back then. I like Lo clobbering Early too, but I think he never graduated.

  7. This month it is Joseph K. Mansfield class of ‘22. I was able to visit Forts Lancaster and Davis in West Texas last week. Mansfield, as you know, made at least two full circuits of every US Army fort and post in the antebellum as the Inspector General. He made the only known map of Fort Davis in the antebellum. Extraordinary dude.

  8. An interesting choice for interesting reasons. I wasn’t aware of his inspection travels. Good to think “outside the box” on occasion.

  9. I’d say Grant because he was such an interesting guy in so many ways. For instance, at West Point he established records in horse riding (which would serve him so well later) that stood for years. He was supposedly responsible for bringing the first novels to west Point–making them available in his dorm because the school library refused to carry anything so “frivolous”. Further, he made fast friends that with fellow officers that would last forever, even through a horrible Civil War.

  10. General (after Span-Am War) Guy V. Henry, Class of 50, I believe.. His father was also a graduate as well as his son. A good study of his life will convince you that he was a true Military man (in the best sense of the word). He was everything good as a person as well as an officer and a gentleman. Read about his life and I think you would agree. Today he would be greatly admired a “One tough cookie.”

  11. Of course Abner Doubleday had something to do with baseball. From an earlier ECW post: “Abner Doubleday lingers on as ‘founder of baseball’ due to the efforts of former player (pitcher)/ sporting goods manufacturer/ organizer/ promoter Albert Spalding.” See ‘Circa 1840: the Legendary Doubleday Game’ https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/circa-1840-the-legendary-doubleday-game/ . Seems there was a dispute between Baseball promoter Spalding and Baseball identity Henry Chadwick over ‘WHO created baseball?’ and Spalding presented Abner Doubleday as THE irrefutable answer. The debate has continued ever since (because any publicity is good publicity.)

  12. I agree with Mike!!

    Plus, more importantly, when it’s the bottom of the 9th inning in the 7th game of a Worlds Series, the bases are loaded with the tying run at 2nd base, sportscasters will comment….”THIS is the way Abner intended the game to be played!”

  13. General James Longstreet, Lee’s “Old War Horse.”
    Often overlooked, never underestimated.

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