Oliver Otis Howard (1830 - 1909) MP

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Maj. General Oliver O. Howard (USA)'s Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Leeds, Androscoggin Co., Maine
Death: Died in Burlington, Chittenden Co., Vermont
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:

About Oliver Otis Howard

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Otis_Howard

Oliver Otis Howard (November 8, 1830 – October 26, 1909) was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. He was a corps commander noted for suffering two humiliating defeats, at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, but he recovered from the setbacks while posted in the Western Theater, and served there successfully as a corps and army commander. After the war, he commanded troops in the West, conducting a famous campaign against the Nez Perce tribe. He was instrumental in the founding of Howard University.

Howard was appointed colonel of the 3rd Maine Infantry regiment and temporarily commanded a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run. He was promoted to brigadier general effective September 3, 1861, and given permanent command of his brigade. He then joined Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac for the Peninsula Campaign.

On June 1, 1862, while commanding a Union brigade in the Fair Oaks, Howard was wounded twice in his right arm, which was subsequently amputated. (He received the Medal of Honor in 1893 for his heroism at Fair Oaks.) Brig. Gen. Philip Kearny, who had lost his left arm, visited Howard and joked that they would be able to shop for gloves together. Howard recovered quickly enough to rejoin the army for the Battle of Antietam, in which he rose to division command in the II Corps. He was promoted to major general in November 1862 and assumed command of the XI Corps the following April. In that role, he replaced Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel. Since the corps was composed largely of German immigrants, many of whom spoke no English, the soldiers were resentful of their new leader and openly called for Sigel's reinstatement.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Howard suffered the first of two significant military setbacks, which together led to his occasional nickname, "Uh-Oh Howard". On May 2, 1863, his corps was on the right flank of the Union line, northwest of the crossroads of Chancellorsville. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson created an audacious plan in which Jackson's entire corps would march secretly around the Union flank and attack it. Howard was warned by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, now commanding the Army of the Potomac, that his flank was "in the air", not anchored by a natural obstacle, such as a river, and that Confederate forces might be on the move in his direction. Howard failed to heed the warning and Jackson struck before dark, routing the XI Corps and causing a serious disruption to the Union plan.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, the XI Corps, still chastened by its humiliation in May, arrived on the field in the afternoon of July 1, 1863. Poor positioning of the defensive line by one of Howard's subordinate division commanders, Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow, was exploited by the Confederate Corps of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell and once again the XI Corps was routed, forcing it to retreat through the streets of Gettysburg, leaving many prisoners behind. On Cemetery Hill, south of town, Howard quarreled with Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock about who was in command of the defense. Hancock had been sent by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade with written orders to take command, but Howard insisted that he was the ranking general present. Eventually he relented. He started circulating the story that his corps' failure had actually been triggered by the collapse of Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday's I Corps to the west, but this excuse was never accepted at the time or by history—the reverse was actually true—and the reputation of the XI Corps was ruined. Howard should get some credit for the eventual success at Gettysburg because he wisely stationed one of his divisions (Maj. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr) on Cemetery Hill as a reserve and critical backup defensive line. For the remainder of the three-day battle, the corps remained on the defensive around Cemetery Hill, withstanding assaults by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early on July 2, and participating at the margin of the defense against Pickett's Charge on July 3,.

Howard and his corps were transferred to the Western Theater to become part of the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee. In the Battles for Chattanooga, the corps joined the impulsive assault that captured Missionary Ridge and forced the retreat of Gen. Braxton Bragg. In July 1864, following the death of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, Howard became commander of the Army of the Tennessee, fought in the Atlanta Campaign, and led the right wing of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's famous March to the Sea, through Georgia and then the Carolinas. Sherman, having favored Howard over John A. Logan for command of the Army of the Tennessee after McPherson's death, asked Howard to allow Logan to lead the army in the May 1865 Grand Review in Washington. Howard agreed when Sherman appealed to him as a Christian gentleman.

From May 1865 to July 1874, General Howard was commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. He was placed in command of the Department of the Columbia in 1874, went west to Washington Territory's Fort Vancouver, where he fought in the Indian Wars, particularly against the Nez Perce, with the resultant surrender of Chief Joseph. In Chief Joseph's famous 1879 Washington, D.C., speech, he claimed, "If General Howard had given me plenty of time to gather up my stock and treated Too-hool-hool-suit as a man should be treated, there would have been no war." Subsequently, Howard was superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1881–82. He retired from the United States Army in 1894 with the rank of major general.

General Howard is also remembered for playing a role in founding Howard University, which was incorporated by Congress in 1867. The school is nonsectarian and is open to both sexes without regard to race. As commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, Howard was known for promoting the welfare and education of former slaves, freedmen, and war refugees. On November 20, 1866, ten members, including Howard, of various socially concerned groups of the time met in Washington, D.C., to discuss plans for a theological seminary to train colored ministers. Interest was sufficient, however, in creating an educational institute for areas other than the ministry. The result was the Howard Normal and Theological Institute for the Education of Preachers and Teachers. On January 8, 1867, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the institution to Howard University. Howard served as president from 1869 to 1874. He was quoted in saying "The opposition to Negro education made itself felt everywhere in a combination not to allow the freedmen any room or building in which a school might be taught. In 1865, 1866, and 1877 mobs of the baser classes at intervals and in all parts of the South occasionally burned school buildings and churches used as schools, flogged teachers or drove them away, and in a number of instances murdered them." He also founded Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, in 1895, for the education of the "mountain whites."

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Maj. General Oliver O. Howard (USA)'s Timeline

1830
November 6, 1830
Leeds, Androscoggin Co., Maine
1855
February 14, 1855
Age 24
December 16, 1855
Age 25
Kennebec Arsenal, Augusta, ME
1856
January 26, 1856
Age 25
Leeds, ME
1860
December 1, 1860
Age 30
West Point, NY
1863
May 3, 1863
Age 32
Augusta, ME
1867
June 15, 1867
Age 36
Augusta, ME
1869
July 25, 1869
Age 38
Washington, DC
1871
September 19, 1871
Age 40
Washington, DC
1909
October 26, 1909
Age 78
Burlington, Chittenden Co., Vermont