Monday, May 14, 2012

Will the Real George H. Steuart Please Stand Up?

While compiling the list of Civil War officers of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry (see previous post), one of the names on the list caught my eye, Henry Sachs. I knew I had seen the name somewhere, and knew it was from the 2nd U.S. Cavalry during the war, but couldn't remember exactly where. At first I thought he was the sergeant featured in the Don Stivers print "Medal of Honor," where the first sergeant of Company K, 2nd U.S. cavalry saved his company commander, the badly wounded Theophilus Rodenbough at the battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864. As it turns out, I had the right company, but the wrong guy.

Company K of the 2nd U.S. Dragoons (later 2nd U.S. Cavalry)was the only company present at First Bull Run, part of the battalion of regular cavalry under the command of Innis Palmer. One of the sergeants of Co. K, Henry Sachs, is credited with the capture of "General George H. Steuart, of Baltimore" in Colonel Porter's official report of the battle. In regimental histories of the battle, it is noted that General Steuart had formerly served as a lieutenant in the regiment, and in one account I saw that Sachs captured his former commander.

This is not the case. After a good bit of digging for research and a check with Harry Smeltzer, whose blog Bull Runnings is the premier online resource for the battle, I have determined that while Col. Porter's report is correct, the account in Joseph I. Lambert's One Hundred Years With the Second Cavalry is not. Rodenbough's From Everglade to Canyon simply quotes Porter's report.

There were two George H. Steuarts at First Bull Run, father and son, both from Baltimore. George the Elder, born November 1, 1790 and captured on the battlefield, was a veteran of the War of 1812 and promoted to brigadier general of the Maryland militia in 1833. 71 at the time of the battle, he was not actually a serving officer in the Confederate Army, and was subsequently released. It is not known what he was doing on the battlefield, but there were numerous spectators from both sides at the battle. It has been postulated that he was looking for his son, but I have not been able to corroborate this.

George H. Steuart, Jr. graduated West Point 37th in the class of 1848, serving as a lieutenant in the 2nd Dragoons after he graduated. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, 1st U.S. Cavalry on March 3, 1855. He resigned his commission on April 22, 1861. He initially received an appointment as a captain of cavalry in the Confederate regular army, but subsequently received an appointment as the lieutenant colonel of the 1st Maryland (CSA) Infantry. This was the position he held during the battle. He was promoted to Brigadier General in March 1862 and served through the war, though he too was captured --- with his division commander at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Later exchanged, he was present with General Lee at Appomattox, and returned to Baltimore after the war.

So it was the father, not the cavalryman, who was captured at First Bull Run. He and Sachs never served together, as Sachs didn't enlist in the regiment until 1857, two years after Steuart moved on to the 1st U.S. Cavalry.

As for Henry Sachs, more about him tomorrow.

No comments: