Civil War Facts & Trivia with a New Jersey Slant


What famous Civil War personality a) graduated from Columbia University; b) became a lawyer; c) saw service in Algeria; d) fought in the Mexican War; e) fought Indians in California; f) fought in the Italian War; (1859) as a member of Napoleon III's Imperial Guard; g) saw service in the Crimea; h) was killed in the Civil War and honored by both sides; i) had an uncle who was a general in the U.S. Army dragoons; and j) devised a patch to identify the men of his division? Answer: General Philip Kearny, of course.

According to author Webb Garrison in The Amazing Civil War, In April 1862 the 1st New Jersey Cavalry took 10 prisoners near the Rappahannock River when an escaped slave lead them through Confederate picket lines. The New York Tribune reported that the rebels "...were surprised in their beds."

We recently received an email from someone who's ancestor was was a member of the 1st NJ Cav. He has a letter in his possession which tells a little different story. Here is part of the email that we received:

"I have a first hand account of that encounter, written by Virgil Brodrick, the man who led the scouting party, in a letter home to his father, on April 30, 1862. There were 17 men in the party, and they actually only captured 5 men, and killed one other inadvertently. Virgil Brodrick was my great-grandmother's brother, and was from Andover, NJ."

On November 8, 1999 New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed Assembly Bill 3049, appropriating $55,335 for the restoration and maintenance of 13 monuments at Gettysburg which commemorate service by New Jersey troops. New Jersey is the FIRST state to appropriate funds for this purpose.

General Philip Kearny had a New Jersey town, 2 military decorations, and at least 1 roundtable named after him.

According to legend, presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln was the first nationally prominent baseball fan. A.J. Carter at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey organized the first baseball game under modern rules in 1846

Captain Julius Adolphe de Lagnel was a Confederate officer who grew up near Newark New Jersey. He distinguished himself at Rich Mountain, Virginia by manning his cannon alone.

On February 8, 1862, men from the Ninth New Jersey and the Ninth New York mistakenly fired on the Fifty-first New York while assaulting Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

Deckertown (now Sussex), New Jersey born Brigadier General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick of the Second New York Cavalry drove his men and horses so hard that he was known as "Kill Cavalry".

Confederate General Samuel Cooper was adjutant general of the U.S. Army prior to the Civil War. Cooper was the senior general officer of the Confederate Army. Cooper was born and raised in Hackensack New Jersey, but married a Virginia woman after graduating from West Point.

On July 4, 1863, Confederate Major General J.H. Winder issued an order directing that two Union officers being held prisoner at Libby Prison be selected for execution. The Union officers involved asked that a Union chaplain also held at the prison select the unfortunate officers. Chaplain Brown drew a name out of a box containing the names of seventy-five Union Captains. The first name he drew was Henry Washington Sawyer, Captain, First New Jersey Cavalry.

After Philip Kearny was killed during fighting at Chantilly, Robert E. Lee ordered that Kearny’s horse and equipment be sent to his widow.

Colonel George C. Burling of the Sixth New Jersey resigned his commission on March 4, 1864 because he was unhappy at not winning a promotion. Over a year later he was named a brevet brigadier general for his defense of Sickles’ salient at Gettysburg.

Colonel Joshua B. Howell of New Jersey took part in the action at Seven Pines, Bermuda Hundred, Seven Days, Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Fort Wagner without ever receiving a promotion. In September 1864, his horse fell. He died two days later. He got his promotion to brigadier general 6 months later.

Robert Todd Lincoln was waiting for a train at a New Jersey train station. The crush of the crowd caused him to slip and start to slide down the space between the train and platform when the train started moving. Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, rescued him.

After the Civil War, Union General Fitz-John Porter held a number of jobs, including construction superintendent for the State Asylum in New Jersey, and receiver of accounts for the Central Railroad of New Jersey. He died of natural causes in Morristown, New Jersey at age seventy-nine.

An 1860 estimate of the strength and effectiveness of state militias indicates that New Jersey’s militia units contained about 1,000 men and were rated as "Satisfactory".

"Gradual emancipation" had been adopted as a policy by several northern states during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This policy generally called for freeing slaves when they reached a certain age, typically twenty-five. This policy allowed slaves to refuse freedom under certain circumstances, such as advanced age. As a result, by 1860 New Jersey was the only northern "free" state still containing slaves. Eighteen elderly people in New Jersey were still technically slaves until the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 18, 1865.