Portrait of Darius Couch

During the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 – 15, 1862), Darius N. Couch’s Corps took part in the failed assaults on Marye’s Heights that resulted in a federal bloodbath. [Wikimedia Commons]

Darius Nash Couch - Facts

July 23, 1822 - February 12, 1897

Key fats about Darius N. Couch, a prominent Union general during the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Darius Nash Couch

Birth Date:

  • July 23, 1822

Birth Location:

  • Near South East, a village in Putnam County, New York

Parents:

  • Jonathan and Elizabeth (Penney) Couch

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1846)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • First Lieutenant (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)

Spouse:

  • Mary Caroline Crocker

Place of Death:

  • Norwalk, Connecticut

Date of Death:

  • February 12, 1897

Place of Burial:

  • Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Taunton, Massachusetts

Significance:

  • Darius N. Couch was the second of three children born to Jonathan and Elizabeth (Penney) Couch.
  • Darius N. Couch’s grandfather, Thomas Couch, was veteran of the Revolutionary War.
  • Darius N. Couch graduated from the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1846, ranked thirteenth in his class of 59 cadets.
  • Among Darius N. Couch’s classmates at the United States Military Academy were future Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and several future Union generals including John G. Foster, Jesse L. Reno, Charles C. Gilbert, George Stoneman, George H. Gordon, and Couch’s close friend, George B. McClellan.
  • Following his graduation from West Point, Darius N. Couch was brevetted to the rank of second lieutenant and assigned to the 4th U.S. Artillery.
  • During the Mexican-American War (April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848), Darius N. Couch was brevetted to first lieutenant for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct” during the Battle of Buena Vista (February 22-23, 1847).
  • On December 4, 1847, Darius N. Couch was promoted to the full rank of first lieutenant with the 4th Artillery.
  • At the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, Darius N. Couch was assigned to Fort Pickens, Florida, where he campaigned against the Seminole Indians for two years.
  • During the winter of 1852-1853, Darius N. Couch conducted a scientific expedition in Mexico for the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Two animal species identified by Darius N. Couch are still identified with his name, Couch’s Kingbird and Couch’s Spadefoot Toad.
  • On August 31, 1854, Darius N. Couch married Mary Caroline Crocker, the daughter of Samuel L. Crocker, a U.S Congressman from Taunton, Massachusetts. Their marriage, which lasted forty-two years, produced one daughter and one son.
  • Darius N. Couch resigned from the army, on April 30, 1855.
  • When the Civil War erupted, Massachusetts Governor John Andrew authorized Darius N. Couch to recruit a regiment of soldiers to help preserve the Union.
  • On June 15, 1861, the 7th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service under the command of Colonel Darius N. Couch.
  • On August 20, 1861, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 62 promoting Darius N. Couch to the rank of brigadier general, to date from May 17, 1861.
  • By the time Major General George B. McClellan launched his Peninsula Campaign in March 1862, Darius N. Couch commanded the 1st Division of the 4th Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Darius N. Couch was engaged at the Siege of Yorktown (April 5 – May 4, 1862), the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862), the Battle of Fair Oaks (May 31–June 1, 1862), the Battle of Oak Grove (June 25, 1862), and Battle of Malvern Hill (July 1, 1862).
  • Reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac, including Darius N. Couch’s Division, prevented the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30, 1862) from being worse than it could have been.
  • During the Maryland Campaign, Darius N. Couch’s Division was deployed to support the 4th Corps, but did not arrive at Sharpsburg until September 18, the day following the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862).
  • On September 26, Darius N. Couch’s Division was reassigned and became the 3rd Division of the 6th Army Corps. Couch was transferred to command of the 2nd Division of the corps.
  • On November 1, 1862, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 181, promoting Darius N. Couch to the rank of major general, to date from July 4, 1862.
  • On November 14, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order No. 184 (AoP), dividing the Army of the Potomac into three “grand divisions.” Couch was assigned to command the 2nd Corps of Major General Edwin V. Sumner’s Right Grand Division.
  • During the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 – 15, 1862), Darius N. Couch’s Corps took part in the failed assaults on Marye’s Heights that resulted in a federal bloodbath.
  • On February 5, Major General Joseph Hooker issued General Orders, No. 6 (AoP) announcing that Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s grand divisions were discontinued and that the army would be reorganized into eight corps. Hooker named Darius N. Couch as commander of the 2nd Corps.
  • During the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863), Major General Joseph Hooker temporarily passed command of the Army of the Potomac to Darius N. Couch, and ordered Couch to retreat.
  • When Abraham Lincoln visited the Union lines on May 10, 1863, after the Battle of Chancellorsville, Darius N. Couch reportedly told the president that he would no longer serve under Hooker and he requested reassignment.
  • On June 9, 1863, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 172 assigning Couch to command the Department of the Susquehanna, headquartered at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Darius N. Couch played a relatively minor role in the Gettysburg Campaign, skirmishing with Confederate cavalrymen who attempted to capture the Pennsylvania capital at Harrisburg.
  • During the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, Darius N. Couch abandoned his headquarters at Chambersburg when the town was threatened by Confederate General John McCausland’s marauding cavalry, who later burned the town on July 30, 1864.
  • On November 22, 1864, Darius N. Couch issued General Orders, No. 281 (Department of the Susquehanna) announcing that he was taking a temporary leave and that Major General George Cadwalader would assume command of the department during his absence.
  • On December 1, 1864, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 293, announcing that “The Department of the Susquehanna will hereafter be known as the Department of Pennsylvania, headquarters at Philadelphia.”
  • On December 1, 1864, Darius N. Couch issued General Orders, No. 74 (Department of the Susquehanna) stating that “In obedience to the orders of the lieutenant-general commanding the Armies of the United States I hereby relinquish command of the Department of the Susquehanna.”
  • Darius N. Couch was reassigned to command the 2nd Division of the 23rd Army Corps and reported for duty on December 5, 1864. He was placed in command of the corps’ second division on December 8.
  • Darius N. Couch led the 2nd Division of the 23rd Army Corps during the Union victory at the Battle of Nashville (December 15-16, 1864).
  • Darius N. Couch resigned from the volunteer army on May 26, 1865.
  • Darius N. Couch was an unsuccessful candidate for the governorship of Massachusetts in 1865.
  • In 1871, Darius N. Couch moved to Connecticut where he served as Quartermaster General (January 1, 1877- December 31, 1878) and as Adjutant General (January 1, 1883-January 1, 1885) of the state militia.
  • Between 1881 and 1886, Darius N. Couch was President of the Board of Trustees of the Fitchville, Connecticut Home for Disabled Soldiers.
  • Darius N. Couch died in Norwalk, Connecticut on February 12, 1897, at the age of 74.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Darius Nash Couch - Facts
  • Coverage July 23, 1822 - February 12, 1897
  • Author
  • Keywords Darius Nash Couch
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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