Thomas Weir (American soldier)

Last updated
Thomas Benton Weir
Thomas B. Weir (US Army officer).jpg
BornSeptember 28, 1838
Nashville, Ohio
DiedDecember 9, 1876
New York City
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service186176
Rank Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg Captain (Regular Army)
Commands heldCompany D, 7th U.S. Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War Indian Wars

Captain Thomas Benton Weir (b. September 28, 1838 -– d. December 9, 1876) was an officer in the 7th Cavalry Regiment (United States), notable for his participation in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. Weir served under General George Armstrong Custer during the American Civil War, and after the war continued serving under his command up to the famous battle in 1876. During the Little Bighorn Battle, Weir disobeyed orders to remain in a defensive position at Reno Hill and led a cavalry group that attempted to come to Custer's aid. Weir and the group retreated back to Reno Hill in the face of overwhelming numbers of Native American warriors. A hill on the battlefield, Weir Point, is named in his honor and marks the farthest point of Weir's advance.

Battle of the Little Bighorn 1876 battle of the Great Sioux War

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass and also commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which resulted in the defeat of US forces, was the most significant action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It took place on June 25–26, 1876, along the Little Bighorn River in the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana Territory.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Contents

Reportedly deeply depressed by his experience in the historic battle, Weir's health declined, and he died only a few months afterwards, aged 38.

Civil War Experience

Weir was born in Nashville, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Michigan in June 1861. On August 27, 1861, he enlisted in Company B of the 3rd Michigan Cavalry and earned quick promotion to First Sergeant. By October 1861, he earned promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. In June 1862 Weir was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

Nashville, Ohio Village in Ohio, United States

Nashville is a village in Holmes County, Ohio, United States. The population was 197 at the 2010 census.

University of Michigan Public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

The University of Michigan, often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is Michigan's oldest; it was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state. The school was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

Shortly afterwards, he was taken prisoner by the Confederate States Army and was promoted again to Captain during the seven months he was held captive. After his release, Weir was given the job of Assistant Inspector General on the staff of (brevet) Major General George Armstrong Custer. [1]

Confederate States Army Army of the Confederate States

The Confederate States Army (C.S.A.) was the military land force of the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.

George Armstrong Custer United States Army cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars

George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars.

Battle of the Little Bighorn and Weir Point

During the Indian Wars on the Great Plains, Weir commanded Company D of the 7th Cavalry under Custer, as part of a two-pronged attack on a large Native American encampment on the Little Bighorn River in Montana on June 25, 1876. Custer had led a detachment north to attack the camp from that direction. Three companies, with Major Marcus Reno in overall command, attacked the south end of the village, but Reno's forces retreated from their initial attack on the south end of the village to a hilltop nearby, now known as Reno Hill, where they were joined by another three companies, including Weir's Company D, led by Captain Frederick Benteen as well as a pack train carrying supplies.

Great Plains broad expanse of flat land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada

The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Little Bighorn River river in the United States of America

The Little Bighorn River is a 138-mile-long (222 km) tributary of the Bighorn River in the United States in the states of Montana and Wyoming. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, was fought on its banks on June 25th and 26th, 1876, as well as the Battle of Crow Agency in 1887.

Weir's company, without orders, (and eventually followed by other soldiers including Benteen) moved north from the defensive position on Reno Hill, heading in the direction of the sound of firing from the direction where they believed Custer and his troops were fighting. However, Weir and the would-be relief were forced to retreat back to Reno Hill under fire where they were under further attack until relieved by General Alfred Terry two days later, when the Native American warriors withdrew. [2]

Alfred Terry Union Army general

Alfred Howe Terry was a Union general in the American Civil War and the military commander of the Dakota Territory from 1866 to 1869 and again from 1872 to 1886. In 1865, Terry led Union troops to victory at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in North Carolina.

Weir Point

Also known as Weir Ridge, Weir Point is about three miles south from where Custer and the soldiers with him were killed and about one and a half miles north of Reno Hill. Weir Point is the location where Captain Weir and those with him eventually realized after two hours [3] that Custer was beyond their aid, and that hostile warriors were advancing towards the relief force in substantial numbers. From Weir Point the surviving members of the 7th Cavalry withdrew back to the already-established defensive positions on Reno Hill.

In the present era, Weir Point is a modest pull-off on the paved lane that ends at Reno Hill, also known as the Reno-Benteen Battlefield. Weir Point is marked with an illustrated roadside sign naming the hill and showing an artist's rendition of what the artist believed Weir and those with him saw: clouds of dust rising from the bluffs to the north where Custer and his men were wiped out. [4]

Weir's Decline and Death

Deeply shaken by his experience after the famous battle and showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress, Weir's mental health declined rapidly. Weir wrote letters to Custer's widow, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, hinting at untold matters regarding her husband's death. [5] Formally posted back to New York City on recruiting duty, in the final months of his life he refused to go outside, began to drink heavily and in his last days was said to be extremely nervous, to the point of being unable to swallow.

He died in New York City less than six months after Custer's death, reportedly in a state of extreme depression. [2] He was buried at the Fort Columbus post cemetery on Governors Island in New York City. In the 1880s his remains were reinterred at Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Media portrayal

The role of Captain Weir is played by noted author and actor Robert Schenkkan in the 1991 television movie Son of the Morning Star. [6]

Related Research Articles

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site of the June 25 and 26, 1876, Battle of the Little Bighorn, near Crow Agency, Montana, in the United States. It also serves as a memorial to those who fought in the battle: George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry and a combined Lakota-Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho force. Custer National Cemetery, on the battlefield, is part of the national monument. The site of a related military action led by Marcus Reno and Frederick Benteen is also part of the national monument, but is about 3 miles (5 km) southeast of the Little Bighorn battlefield.

Marcus Reno Union Army general

Marcus Albert Reno was a United States career military officer who served in the American Civil War and under George Armstrong Custer in the Great Sioux War against the Lakota (Sioux) and Northern Cheyenne. Reno is most noted for his prominent role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This has since been a subject of controversy regarding his command decisions in the course of one of the most infamous defeats in the history of the United States military.

Frederick Benteen Union United States Army officer

Frederick William Benteen was a military officer who first fought during the American Civil War. He was appointed to commanding ranks during the Indian Campaigns and Great Sioux War against the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne. Benteen is best known for being in command of a battalion of the 7th U. S. Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in late June, 1876.

Goes Ahead Crow Scout with Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn

Goes Ahead was a Crow scout for George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry during the 1876 campaign against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne. He was a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and his accounts of the battle are valued by modern historians.

James Calhoun (soldier) soldier in the United States Army killed along with George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn

James Calhoun was a soldier in the United States Army during the American Civil War and the Black Hills War. He was the brother-in-law of George Armstrong Custer and was killed along with Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His brother-in-law Myles Moylan survived the battle as part of the forces with Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen.

Henry Moore Harrington was a military officer in the 7th United States Cavalry Regiment who went Missing in action during the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana Territory.

Wooden Leg Northern Cheyenne warrior

Wooden Leg (1858–1940) was a Northern Cheyenne warrior who fought against Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Charles Varnum United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Charles Albert Varnum was a career United States Army officer. He was most noted as the commander of the scouts for George Armstrong Custer in the Little Bighorn Campaign during the Great Sioux War, as well as receiving the Medal of Honor for his actions in a conflict at Drexel Mission following the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Charles DeRudio U.S. Army officer who fought in the 7th U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Charles Camillo DeRudio, originally Carlo Camillo Di Rudio, was an Italian aristocrat, would-be assassin of Napoleon III, and later a career U.S. Army officer who fought in the 7th U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Fredrick Frances Gerard was a frontiersman, army scout, and civilian interpreter for George Armstrong Custer's 7th U.S. Cavalry during the Little Bighorn Campaign.

Dr. James Madison DeWolf was an acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment who was killed in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Henry Rinaldo Porter was a Surgeon in the 7th U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Luther Hare Officer in the 7th U.S. Cavalry

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Frank Tolan United States Army Medal of Honor recipient

Frank Tolan was an American private in the U.S. Army who served with the 7th U.S. Cavalry during the Great Sioux War of 1876–77. He was one of twenty-two soldiers received the Medal of Honor for gallantry, volunteering to carry water to wounded soldiers on Reno Hill, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

Thomas Mower McDougall US Army officer

Thomas Mower McDougall was an officer in the United States Army, who took part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn but survived because he was with Major Reno and Captain Benteen.

White Swan Crow scout and painter

White Swan (c.1850—1904), or Mee-nah-tsee-us in the Crow language, was one of six Crow Scouts for George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry Regiment during the 1876 campaign against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne. At the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Crow Indian Reservation, White Swan went with Major Reno's detachment, and fought alongside the soldiers at the south end of the village. Of the six Crow scouts at the Battle of the Little Bighorn White Swan stands out because he aggressively sought combat with multiple Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, and he was the only Crow Scout to be wounded in action, suffering severe wounds to his hand/wrist and leg/foot. After being disabled by his wounds, he was taken to Reno's hill entrenchments by Half Yellow Face, the pipe-bearer (leader) of the Crow scouts, which no doubt saved his life.

Half Yellow Face

Half Yellow Face was the leader of the six Crow Scouts for George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry during the 1876 campaign against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne. Half Yellow Face led the six Crow scouts as Custer advanced up the Rosebud valley and crossed the divide to the Little Bighorn valley, and then as Custer made the fateful decision to attack the large Sioux-Cheyenne camp which precipitated the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. At this time, the other Crow Scouts witnessed a conversation between Custer and Half Yellow Face. Half Yellow Face made a statement to Custer that was poetically prophetic, at least for Custer: "You and I are going home today by a road we do not know".

Winfield Scott Edgerly United States general

Winfield Scott Edgerly was an officer in the United States Army in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Born in New Hampshire in 1846, he attended the United States Military Academy, graduating in 1870. He served on the frontier through the Indian Wars, including the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Wounded Knee Massacre; in the Spanish–American War; in the Philippine Insurrection; and (briefly) in World War I. He served in several command positions. He was an observer of the Kaiser Maneuvers in Germany in 1907. He was retired as a brigadier general for disability in 1909, was recalled briefly in 1917 and died in 1927. Edgerly is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

References

  1. "Thomas Benton Weir (1838-1876)" . Retrieved July 15, 2010.
  2. 1 2 Connell, Evan (1984). Son of the Morning Star. New York: North Poin Press. pp. 281–283. ISBN   0-86547-510-5.
  3. Lt. Edgerly (Carroll, The Gibson and Edgerly Narratives, p. 11: "We stayed out there [on the Weir Peaks] about 2 hours, according to my recollection...."
  4. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=86823
  5. http://www.historynet.com/libbie-custer-wounded-thing-must-hide.htm
  6. http://www.hollywood.com/tv/son-of-the-morning-star-59446565/credits/