Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oldest Officer

Union General Edwin Vose Sumner died March 21st 1863, he was the oldest field commander on either side during the Civil War.

Edwin Vose Sumner was born January 30th 1797 in Boston, Massachusetts the son of Elisha and Nancy [Vose] Sumner. He got his education at Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts. After trying a career in retail in Tory, New York in 1819 he entered the United States Army. By January 25th 1825 he had been promoted to First Lieutenant.

Sumner served in the Black Hawk War and other Indian campaigns. In 1833 he was promoted again to Captain in command of Company B of the First United States Dragoons. In 1838 Sumner was instructing cavalry at the Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During the Mexican American War received two brevet for bravery to the rank of Colonel. He would serve as the Military Governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1851 to 1853. Sumner was at Fort Leavenworth Kansas in 1856 during the time known as “Bleeding Kansas”. He was assigned by Lieutenant General Winfield Scott to accompany Abraham Lincoln in March 1861 from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC.

Sumner spent the first year of the Civil War as the commander of the Department of the Pacific in California, having been sent there to replace Albert Sidney Johnston. So Sumner saw no action in 1861. He was brought back east and on May 5th 1862 promoted to Major General and given command of one of the new Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He lead the II Corp through out the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles. After Major General Joseph Hooker was placed in command of the Army, Sumner was relieved at his own request and appointed to command the Department of Missouri.

Taking advantage of time off, he traveled to Syracuse, New York to visit with a daughter. While there Sumner had heart attacked and died March 21st 1863. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York in the Teall family plot.

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