Samuel Ryan Curtis

Last updated
Samuel Ryan Curtis
SamuelCurtis01.jpg
Samuel R. Curtis in 1862
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1857 August 4, 1861
Preceded by Augustus Hall
Succeeded by James F. Wilson
Personal details
Born(1805-02-03)February 3, 1805
Champlain, New York
DiedDecember 26, 1866(1866-12-26) (aged 61)
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Political party Republican
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Union
Branch/service United States Army
Union Army
Years of service1831–1832, 1846–1847, 1861–1865
Rank Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Major General
Commands 2nd Iowa Infantry
Army of the Southwest
Department of the Missouri
Army of the Border
Battles/wars Mexican–American War
American Civil War

Samuel Ryan Curtis (February 3, 1805 – December 26, 1866) was an American military officer, and one of the first Republicans elected to Congress. He was most famous for his role as a Union Army general in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War, especially for his victories at the Battles of Pea Ridge in 1862 and Westport in 1864.

Union Army Land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, the Union Army referred to the United States Army, the land force that fought to preserve the Union of the collective states. Also known as the Federal Army, it proved essential to the preservation of the United States of America as a working, viable republic.

Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War

The Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War consists of the major military operations west of the Mississippi River. The area is often thought of as excluding the states and territories bordering the Pacific Ocean, which formed the Pacific Coast Theater of the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Battle of Pea Ridge major battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Pea Ridge, also known as the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, was a major battle of the American Civil War fought near Leetown, northeast of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Federal forces, led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, moved south from central Missouri, driving Confederate forces into northwestern Arkansas. Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn launched a Confederate counter-offensive, hoping to recapture northern Arkansas and Missouri. Curtis held off the Confederate attack on the first day and drove Van Dorn's force off the battlefield on the second.

Contents

Early life, Mexican–American War, and politics

Born near Champlain, New York, Curtis graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1831. He was stationed at Fort Gibson in the Indian Territories (present-day Oklahoma) before resigning from the Army in 1832. [1] He moved to Ohio, where he worked as a civil engineer on the Muskingum River improvement projects and also became a lawyer in 1841. During the Mexican–American War, he was appointed colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Ohio Volunteers and served as military governor of several occupied cities [2] .

Champlain, New York Town in New York, United States

Champlain is a town in Clinton County, New York, United States. The population was 5,754 at the 2010 census. The town is located on the west shore of Lake Champlain, near the north end of the lake and on the U.S./Canadian border.

United States Military Academy U.S. Armys federal service academy in West Point, New York

The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the five U.S. service academies.

Fort Gibson

Fort Gibson is a historic military site located next to the present day city of Fort Gibson, in Muskogee County Oklahoma. It guarded the American frontier in Indian Territory from 1824 until 1888. When constructed, the fort lay farther west than any other military post in the United States; it formed part of the north–south chain of forts intended to maintain peace on the frontier of the American West and to protect the southwestern border of the Louisiana Purchase. The fort succeeded in its peacekeeping mission for more than 50 years, as no massacres or battles occurred there. The fort site is now managed by the Oklahoma Historical Society as the Fort Gibson Historical Site. It is a National Historic Landmark.

After the war in the 1850s, he served as chief engineer for river improvements in Des Moines, Iowa, for public infrastructure works in St. Louis, and for the American Central Railroad in Iowa. He became the mayor of Keokuk in 1856 and in the same year was elected as a Republican to represent Iowa's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Curtis and Timothy Davis (elected the same day to represent Iowa's 2nd congressional district) were the first Iowa Republicans elected to serve in the U.S. House. Curtis was re-elected in 1858 and 1860 and during his time in Congress was a strong advocate of a transcontinental railroad.

Iowa State of the United States of America

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states; Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest and Minnesota to the north.

Keokuk, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Keokuk is a city in and a county seat of Lee County, Iowa, United States, along with Fort Madison. It is Iowa's southernmost city. The population was 10,780 at the 2010 census. The city is named after the Sauk chief Keokuk, who is thought to be buried in Rand Park. It is in the extreme southeast corner of Iowa, where the Des Moines River meets the Mississippi. It is at the junction of U.S. Routes 61, 136 and 218. Just across the rivers are the towns of Hamilton and Warsaw, Illinois, and Alexandria, Missouri.

Iowas 1st congressional district

Iowa's 1st congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Iowa that covers its northeastern part. The district includes the cities of Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Democrat Abby Finkenauer is the current U.S. Representative.

Civil War service

Equestrian statue on the Keokuk riverfront Samuel Ryan Curtis monument, Keokuk.jpg
Equestrian statue on the Keokuk riverfront

He was a supporter of eventual President Abraham Lincoln, and was considered for a cabinet position in the Lincoln administration. However, after the Civil War broke out, Curtis was appointed colonel of the 2nd Iowa Infantry on June 1, 1861, prompting him to resign his congressional seat on August 4 of that year. [3] He was subsequently promoted to brigadier general, with the promotion backdated to May 17, 1861.

Abraham Lincoln 16th president of the United States

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman, politician, and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

Colonel (United States) Military rank of the United States

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, colonel is the most senior field grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and immediately below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services. The pay grade for colonel is O-6.

Brigadier general (United States) one-star general officer in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps

In the United States Armed Forces, brigadier general is a one-star general officer with the pay grade of O-7 in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. The rank of brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed services. The NATO equivalent is OF-6.

After organizing the chaos in St. Louis, Missouri, Curtis was given command of the Army of the Southwest on December 25, 1861, by Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck. The Army originally consisted of three divisions, the 1st commanded by Brig. Gen. Franz Sigel, the 2nd by Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth, and the 3rd by Col. Jefferson C. Davis. However, Sigel, a native German who held significant influence amongst the many German immigrants in the army, threatened to resign over having not been appointed to command of the army himself. Curtis subsequently gave him overall command of the first two divisions, consisting mainly of German immigrants, while creating a 4th Division commanded by Col. Eugene A. Carr.

The Army of the Southwest was a Union Army that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. This force was also known as the Army of Southwest Missouri.

In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest-permanent rank during peacetime in the uniformed-services. Higher ranks are technically-temporary ranks linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.

Franz Sigel Union Army general; U.S. civil servant

Franz Sigel was a German American military officer, revolutionist and immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the American Civil War. His ability to recruit German-speaking immigrants to the Union armies received the approval of President Abraham Lincoln, but he was strongly disliked by General-in-Chief Henry Halleck.

Curtis moved his headquarters south to Rolla, Missouri, to solidify Union control in Arkansas. In March 1862, his army won the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas. His success made him pensive rather than triumphant. A few days after the battle he wrote, "The scene is silent and sad. The vulture and the wolf now have the dominion and the dead friends and foes sleep in the same lonely graves." [4] He was promoted to major general for his success, effective March 21, 1862. On the same day in late March that he heard about his promotion, he also found out that his twenty-year-old daughter Sadie died of typhoid fever in St. Louis. [5]

Rolla, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Rolla is a city in and the county seat of Phelps County, Missouri, United States. The population in the 2010 United States Census was 19,559. Rolla is located approximately midway between St. Louis and Springfield along I-44. The Rolla, Mo Micropolitan Statistical area consists of Phelps County, Missouri.

Union (American Civil War) United States national government during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Union, also known as the North, referred to the United States of America and specifically to the national government of President Abraham Lincoln and the 20 free states, as well as 4 border and slave states that supported it. The Union was opposed by 11 southern slave states that formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy" or "the South".

Arkansas State of the United States of America

Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

After Pea Ridge, Curtis' small army moved east and invaded northeast Arkansas, capturing the city of Helena, Arkansas in July. In September, Curtis was given command of the District of Missouri, but Lincoln was soon forced to reassign him, after Curtis's abolitionist views led to conflict with the governor of Missouri. [6] He was reassigned to command the Department of Kansas & Indian Territory.

In October 1863, his son Major Henry Zarah Curtis, adjutant to Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt, was killed by Quantrill's Raiders. In this surprise attack at the Battle of Baxter Springs, Quantrill's men wore Federal uniforms and gave no quarter. [7] Samuel Curtis named Fort Zarah in memory of his son.

In 1864, Curtis returned to Missouri, fighting against the Confederate invasion led by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price. Curtis gathered the forces of his department together, including several regiments of Kansas State Militia, calling his force the Army of the Border. Price's incursion was halted by Curtis' victory at the Battle of Westport. Curtis was then reassigned to a completely different armed conflict, commanding the Army's "Department of the Northwest," which was in the closing phase of a military response to uprisings in southern Minnesota and Dakota Territory by Native Americans against settlers.

Later life and death

In late 1865, he returned to Iowa where he was involved with the Union Pacific Railroad until his death the following year in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, in Keokuk.

See also

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Pea Ridge Confederate order of battle

The Battle of Pea Ridge saw a Confederate States Army led by Earl Van Dorn attack a Union Army commanded by Samuel Ryan Curtis in northwestern Arkansas. Van Dorn divided his army into two columns under Sterling Price and Benjamin McCulloch and sent both in a deep envelopment of the Union position, forcing Curtis to face toward his own rear. Curtis sent one division under Eugene Asa Carr northeast and two more divisions under Peter Joseph Osterhaus and Jefferson C. Davis to the northwest. On the first day, Price's attack drove Carr's troops back in bitter fighting near Elkhorn Tavern. The second attack failed when McCulloch and his second-in-command were killed and his third-in-command was captured. On the second day, preceded by a devastating artillery bombardment directed by Franz Sigel, Curtis' army advanced and drove Van Dorn's army from the field. The battle secured Missouri for the Union, though the state afterward suffered from Confederate guerilla warfare and raiding columns.

Pea Ridge Union order of battle

The Battle of Pea Ridge saw a Confederate States Army led by Earl Van Dorn attack a Union Army commanded by Samuel Ryan Curtis in northwestern Arkansas. Van Dorn split his army into two columns under Sterling Price and Benjamin McCulloch and sent both circling behind the Union positions, forcing Curtis to face to his own rear. Curtis sent a division under Eugene Asa Carr northeast and two more divisions under Peter Joseph Osterhaus and Jefferson C. Davis to the northwest. On the first day, Price's attack drove Carr's troops back in brutal fighting near Elkhorn Tavern. The second attack miscarried when McCulloch and his second-in-command were killed and his third-in-command was captured. On the second day, preceded by an accurate artillery bombardment conducted by Franz Sigel, Curtis' army advanced and drove Van Dorn's forces from the field. The battle secured Missouri for the Union, though the state was afterward subjected to guerilla warfare and raiding columns.

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References

  1. Griffith, John. Samuel Ryan Curtis Find a Grave. Web. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  2. "Samuel R. Curtis," Cullum's Register of West Point Graduates
  3. Samuel Ryan Curtis (February 3, 1805 – December 26, 1866) Ohio Civil War Central. 14 February 2015. Web. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  4. Shea & Hess, p 275
  5. Shea & Hess, p 290
  6. National Park Service Biography
  7. Boatner, p 51

Sources

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Augustus Hall
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district

1857–1861
Succeeded by
James F. Wilson