Portrait of David M. Gregg

On June 9, 1863, David M. Gregg commanded the Left Wing of the Union cavalry at the Battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry engagement of the Civil War. [Wikimedia Commons]

David McMurtrie Gregg - Facts

April 10, 1833 - August 7, 1916

Key facts about Brevet Major General David McMurtrie Gregg who was the longest tenured Federal cavalry division commander during the Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • David McMurtrie Gregg

Birth Date:

  • April 10, 1833

Birth Location:

  • Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • Matthew Duncan and Ellen (McMurtrie) Gregg

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1855)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)
  • Brigadier General (USVA)
  • Brevet Major General (USVA)

Spouse:

  • Ellen Frances Sheaff (1862)

Place of Death:

  • Reading, Pennsylvania

Date of Death:

  • August 7, 1916

Place of Burial:

  • Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania

Significance:

  • David M. Gregg was the third of nine children born to Matthew Duncan and Ellen (McMurtrie) Gregg.
  • David M. Gregg’s grandfather, Andrew Gregg was a United States Congressman from Pennsylvania who served in the House of Representatives from 1791 to 1807, and then in the Senate from 1807 to 1813.
  • David M. Gregg’s father died of fever on July 27, 1845 when young Gregg was just twelve years old.
  • David M. Gregg’s mother died on August 17, 1847 when young Gregg was just fourteen years old.
  • In 1850, Representative Samuel Calvin of Blair County secured an appointment for David M. Gregg at the United States Military Academy.
  • David M. Gregg entered the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1851, and graduated on July 1, 1855, finishing eighth in his class of 34 cadets.
  • David M. Gregg met his future wife, Ellen Frances Sheaff, the granddaughter of former Pennsylvania Governor Joseph Hiester, at his West Point commencement ceremonies.
  • Upon graduation from the Academy, David M. Gregg was brevetted as a second lieutenant with the 2nd U.S. Dragoons and assigned to garrison duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
  • On September 4, 1855, David M. Gregg was promoted to 2nd lieutenant with the 1st U.S. Dragoons, and sent to Fort Union, New Mexico.
  • David M. Gregg campaigned against American Indians in the Washington Territory from 1857 until 1861.
  • David M. Gregg was promoted to first lieutenant on March 21, 1861.
  • David M. Gregg was promoted to the rank of captain with the 6th U.S. Cavalry on May 14, 1861 and ordered east to the defenses of Washington, D.C.
  • On the recommendation of his first cousin, Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin of Pennsylvania, David M. Gregg was appointed colonel of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry in the volunteer army on January 24, 1862.
  • During George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign (March 17–August 14, 1862), David M. Gregg commanded the Cavalry Brigade of the 4th Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
  • David M. Gregg married Ellen Frances Sheaff on October 6, 1862.
  • David M. Gregg was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on November 29, 1862.
  • David M. Gregg assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Division following the death of Brigadier General George D. Bayard during the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 – 15, 1862).
  • Major General Joseph Hooker placed David M. Gregg in command of the 3rd Division of the newly-created Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac in December 1862.
  • David M. Gregg took part in Stoneman’s Raid of 1863 during the Chancellorsville Campaign.
  • On June 7, 1863, David M. Gregg was transferred to the command of the 2nd Division of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, the position he held for the rest of his service with the army.
  • On June 9, 1863, David M. Gregg commanded the Left Wing of the Union cavalry at the Battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry engagement of the Civil War.
  • During the Gettysburg Campaign, David M. Gregg’s cavalry division engaged Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart’s cavalry at the Battle of Aldie (June 17, 1863), the Battle of Middleburg (June 17, 1863), and the Battle of Hanover (June 21, 1863).
  • On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 3, 1863), David M. Gregg, commanding three cavalry brigades, thwarted Stuart’s attempt to flank and assault the Union rear as they withstood Picket’s Charge at Cemetery Ridge.
  • David M. Gregg served as interim commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac from March 26, 1864, until April 4, 1864.
  • During Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, David M. Gregg took part in the Battle of Haw’s Shop (May 28, 1864), the Battle of Trevilian Station (June 11–June 12, 1864) and the Battle of Saint Mary’s Church (June 24, 1864).
  • David M. Gregg was brevetted to major general of volunteers on August 1, 1864, and placed in command of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Siege of Petersburg.
  • David M.Gregg resigned his commission from the army on February 3, 1865.
  • Although David M. Gregg’s resignation letter cited only “pressing private duties and business” at home that demanded personal attention, it was widely assumed that he was unwilling to be superseded by Sheridan a second time.
  • On February 3, 1874, President Grant appointed David M. Gregg as the United States Consul at Prague, Bohemia, but Mrs. Gregg grew homesick, so Gregg resigned on June 28, 1874.
  • David M. Gregg took up residence in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1874.
  • In 1891, Pennsylvania voters elected David M. Gregg to one term as the state’s auditor general.
  • David M. Gregg died at Reading, Pennsylvania on August 7, 1916, less than a year after his wife’s passing.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title David McMurtrie Gregg - Facts
  • Coverage April 10, 1833 - August 7, 1916
  • Author
  • Keywords David McMurtrie Gregg
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 19, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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