Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Warren, Gouverneur Kemble

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

WARREN, Gouverneur Kemble, soldier, b. in Cold Spring, N. Y., 8 Jan., 1830; d. in Newport, R. I., 8 Aug., 1882. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1850, standing second in his class, and was assigned to the topographical engineers as brevet 2d lieutenant. After four years of duty in connection with the surveys of the delta of the Mississippi and other river surveys under Capt. Andrew A. Humphreys, he engaged in compiling reports of the Pacific railroad exploration. In 1855 he accompanied the Sioux expedition as chief topographical engineer on Gen. William S. Harney's staff, being engaged in the action of Blue Water, and subsequently until 1859 he was occupied in Dakota and Nebraska in making maps of those territories for the exploration of the routes for railroads between Mississippi river and the Pacific ocean. The general direction of this route was under Capt. Humphreys, and Lieut. Warren was his principal assistant. He then served at the military academy as assistant professor of mathematics until the beginning of the civil war, when he entered active service as lieutenant-colonel of the 5th New York volunteers, of which regiment he became colonel on 31 Aug., 1861. He was also promoted captain in the engineers on 9 Sept., 1861. His regiment was ordered to Fortress Monroe and he took part in the action of Big Bethel, where he was the last to leave the field, remaining to rescue the body of Lieut. John T. Greble, the first officer in the regular army killed in the civil war. During the remainder of the year he was stationed at Baltimore, where he constructed the fort on Federal Hill. In the spring of 1862 he joined the Army of the Potomac, serving in the peninsular campaign, and at Yorktown his regiment formed part of the siege-train under the command of the chief of artillery. He was given a brigade in the 5th army corps in May, with which he covered the extreme right of the army and took part in the capture of Hanover Court-House, the pursuit of Confederate cavalry under Gen. James E. B. Stuart, the battle of Gaines's Mills, the affair at Malvern Hill and subsequent battle, and the skirmish at Harrison's Landing. His brigade was then sent to re-enforce Gen. John Pope, and he participated in the battle of Manassas. In the subsequent campaign he served with the 5th corps, was engaged at Antietam, and then took part in the Rappahannock campaign and the battle of Fredericksburg. On 26 Sept., 1862, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers for his services at Gaines's Mills. During the winter months of 1862-'3 he did much individual work in reconnoitring and correcting maps, and on 2 Feb., 1863, he was ordered, as chief of topographical engineers, to the staff of Gen. Joseph Hooker, then in command of the Army of the Potomac. Soon after the consolidation of the two corps of engineers on 3 March, 1863, he was appointed chief of engineers of the Army of the Potomac, and during the Chancellorsville campaign he took part in the action on Orange Pike, the storming of Marye's Heights, and the battle of Salem. He continued as chief of engineers under Gen. George G. Meade, and was engaged at Gettysburg, where he seized Little Round Top, the key to the entire National position, and, using Gen. Meade's name as his staff-officer, ordered the 140th New York regiment, under Col. Patrick H. O'Rorke (q. v.) to occupy the hill. This was accomplished after a severe hand-to-hand fight. Thereafter he was engaged in engineering duties connected with the passage of the Potomac until 11 Aug., when on the receipt of his major-general's commission, bearing date of 3 May previous, he was assigned to the temporary command of the 2d corps. His next important service was during the march on Centerville in October, 1863, when he was attacked by Gen. Ambrose P. Hill, and, although his force was about one half that of the Confederates, he held his position until he was re-enforced by the 5th corps. In the official report it was said: “The handling of the 2d corps in this operation, and the promptitude, skill, and spirit with which the enemy was met, were admirable.” When the Army of the Potomac was reorganized into three corps for the Richmond campaign, he received the permanent command of the 5th corps and participated in the battles of the Wilderness, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, and those around Petersburg. Before the battle of Five Forks, Gen. Sheridan, having expressed to Gen. Grant his dissatisfaction with Gen. Warren's habit of criticising the acts and orders of his superior officers, received authority to remove him, should there be satisfactory reasons for so doing. At Five Forks, when the 5th corps advanced according to Gen. Sheridan's orders, it was found that the indicated point of attack was too far to the right. This error was corrected by Gen. Warren, who in person led the charge that closed the battle and secured the victory. At this moment he received an order relieving him from the command of his corps. The reasons given by Gen. Sheridan for this act were: 1. “That Warren failed to reach me on the 1st of April, when I had reason to expect him”; 2. “That the tactical handling of his corps was unskilful”; 3. “That he did not exert himself to get his corps up to Gravelly run church”; and 4. “That when portions of his line gave way he did not exert himself to restore confidence to his troops.” In reply to these charges Gen. Warren answered that his first order to relieve Gen. Sheridan on 31 March was received from Gen. George G. Meade at 9.17 P. M., when he had already accomplished Gen. Sheridan's relief by sending troops to his assistance without orders, on his own responsibility, earlier than 5 P. M., also that he carried out his orders to Gen. Meade's entire satisfaction and joined Gen. Sheridan sooner than Gen. Meade had expected; that the only lack of skill was that of Gen. Sheridan, who delivered the attack of the 5th corps at a point three quarters of a mile distant from the point intended. A court of inquiry, convened in 1879 at Gen. Warren's request, found: 1. That Gen. Warren, after the receipt of Gen. Meade's first order, should have moved his main force sooner than he did. 2. It did not find that his handling of the corps was unskilful. 3. “That there was no unnecessary delay in this march of the 5th corps, and that Gen. Warren took the usual methods of a corps commander to prevent delay.” 4. That “by continuous exertions of himself and staff he substantially remedied matters ”; and the court thinks “that this was for him the essential point to be attended to, which also required his whole efforts to accomplish.” Gen. Warren after his removal was assigned by Gen. Grant to the charge of the defences of the Petersburg and Southside railroad, and then had command of the Department of the Mississippi. On 27 May, 1865, he resigned his commission in the volunteer army and returned to duty as major in the corps of engineers, to which grade he had been advanced on 25 June, 1864. He received the successive brevets in the U. S. army up to major-general, of which the last two were given him on 13 March, 1865. From May, 1865, till his death he was employed in various parts of the country in making surveys and in other works connected with his department. He was made lieutenant-colonel on 4 March, 1879. Gen. Warren was elected a member of the American association for the advancement of science in 1858, of the American philosophical society in 1867, of the American society of civil engineers in 1874, and to the National academy of sciences in 1876. A heroic statue by Paul Gerhardt (shown in the accompanying illustration) was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies on Little Round Top, Gettysburg, on 8 Aug., 1888. His works include “Explorations in the Dacota Country” (2 vols., Washington, 1855-'6); “Preliminary Report of Explorations in Nebraska and Dakota in the Years 1855-'7” (1858); various reports to the government on military and engineering subjects; and a pamphlet giving “An Account of the 5th Army Corps at the Battle of Five Forks” (New York, 1866). See sketch by Gen. Henry L. Abbot in “ Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences” (vol. ii., Washington, 1886).

Appletons' Warren Gouverneur Kemble.jpg