Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fallen Stars

Above: Federal Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth was killed in action at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.

I’ve been putting together a spreadsheet showing details of fatal battle casualties among general officers in the cavalry arm during the U.S. Civil War. According to data assembled by Russell K. Brown, there were 158 general officer combat-related fatalities in the war (78 Federal and 80 Confederate), the battlefields of which he aptly characterized as “the great killing grounds of American generals.”1

“Whoever saw a dead cavalryman?” was a popular calumny at the time of the war, and I was curious to examine the overall data on general officer combat deaths to discover the representation of cavalrymen among them. (I am doing this as well for field grade officers, but that is another, more ambitious, matter altogether.) Basically, I identify each general, their rank and unit, and the place, date, and circumstances of their death or fatal wounding.

I’ve only just begun this project, but it’s proving much more interesting (and challenging) than I imagined.

1Brown, Maj. Russell K., Jr. "Fallen Stars." Military Affairs, 45:1 (Feb. 1981), 9-12.

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