Galusha Pennypacker, Maj. General (1844 - 1916)

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Birthplace: Schuylkill, PA, USA
Death: Died in Philadelphia, PA, USA
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Galusha Pennypacker, Maj. General

Galusha Pennypacker (June 1, 1844 – October 1, 1916) was a Union general during the American Civil War. He is to this day the youngest person to hold the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army; at the age of 20, he remains the only general too young to vote for the president who appointed him. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Early life

Pennypacker was born June 1, 1844 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to a family who had a long history of service in the military. He was raised without having any memory of his parents after his mother died when he was still a baby and his father, who had fought in the Mexican-American War, later became an adventurer in California. His grandfather also served time in the military, serving in the American Revolutionary War. Galusha and George Armstrong Custer, two of the youngest generals in the Civil War, were 5th cousins, both being descendents of Paulus Kuster (1643–1707). He was also cousin to General Benjamin Prentiss through the Pennypacker family.

Military career

At the age of 16, he enlisted as a quartermaster sergeant in the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment from West Chester, Pennsylvania. In October 1861 he was appointed a major in the 97th Pennsylvania, for which he had helped recruit a company of men. He and his regiment saw action in Georgia at Fort Pulaski and in the battles around Charleston. In 1864, his regiment was transferred to Virginia, where he was engaged in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, in which he was wounded at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church. After the Battle of Cold Harbor and during the siege of Petersburg, he was appointed colonel of his regiment, August 15, 1864. He assumed command of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, X Corps of the Army of the James. He led his brigade into action at the Battle of New Market Heights and was wounded near Fort Gilmer. His brigade was attached to the Fort Fisher Expedition under Alfred Terry.

Pennypacker's greatest moment of the war came at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, January 15, 1865, where he was again severely wounded. His wound was considered fatal and General Terry promised the young officer that he would receive a brevet promotion for his conduct that day. Terry called Pennypacker "the real hero of Fort Fisher" and remarked that without his bravery the fort would not have been taken. He was much later awarded the Medal of Honor, with a citation reading, "Gallantly led the charge over a traverse and planted the colors of one of his regiments thereon, was severely wounded."

He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general dated January 15, 1865. He survived his wounds after 10 months in the hospital and on February 18, 1865, he received a full promotion to brigadier general of volunteers at age 20, making him the youngest officer to hold the rank of general to this day in the United States Army. He was appointed a brevet major general of volunteers on March 13, 1865.

Pennypacker stayed in the Army after the Civil War, serving on the frontier as Colonel of the 34th U.S. Infantry, transferring in 1869 to the 16th U.S. Infantry, which he commanded until his retirement in July 1883. He received a brevet promotion to major general in the regular army on March 2, 1867.

He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1916, and is buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery. His grave can be found in the officers section, grave 175.


Bevet Maj. General Galusha Pennypacker (USA)'s Timeline

June 1, 1844
Schuylkill, PA, USA
October 1, 1916
Age 72
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Philadelphia, PA, USA