Portrait of Gordon Granger

Gordon Granger’s declaration of freedom in Texas set off jubilant celebrations among former slaves and served as the progenitor of modern-day Juneteenth celebrations across America. [Wikimedia Commons]

Gordon Granger - Facts

November 6, 1822 - January 10, 1876

Key facts about Major General Gordon Granger, a career U.S. Army officer who held numerous commands and participated in many engagements in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Gordon Granger

Birth Date:

  • November 6, 1822

Birth Location:

  • Joy, Wayne County, New York

Parents:

  • Gaius and Catherine (Taylor) Granger

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1845)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Colonel (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)
  • Brevet Major General (USA)

Spouse:

  • Maria Letcher (1869)

Place of Death:

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

Date of Death:

  • January 10, 1876

Place of Burial:

  • Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky

Significance:

  • Gordon Granger was the only son and eldest of three children of Gaius and Catherine (Taylor) Granger.
  • Gordon Granger’s father was a farmer and sawmill owner.
  • Gordon Granger’s mother died when he was three years old and he spent much of his youth with his paternal grandparents.
  • Gordon Granger attended the local one-room school and taught school for two years before receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy.
  • Gordon Granger entered the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1841, and graduated on July 1, 1845, ranked thirty-fifth in his class of forty-one cadets.
  • Among his classmates at the United States Military Academy were future Union generals William F. “Baldy” Smith, Thomas J. Wood, Fitz-John Porter, and future Confederate General Kirby Smith.
  • Following his graduation from the United States Military Academy, Gordon Granger was brevetted a second lieutenant with the 2nd U.S. Infantry.
  • Shortly before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, Gordon Granger was transferred to the U.S. Mounted Rifles on July 17, 1846.
  • During the Mexican-American War, Gordon Granger took part in the Siege of Veracruz (March 9 – 29, 1847), the Battle of Cerro Gordo (April 17 – 18, 1847), the Battle of Contreras (August. 19 – 20, 1847), the Battle of Churubusco, (August 20, 1847) the Battle of Chapultepec (September 12 – 13, 1847), and the occupation of Mexico City on September 14.
  • During the Mexican-American War, Gordon Granger was promoted to second lieutenant on May 29, 1847, brevetted to first lieutenant on August. 20, 1847 (for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco) and brevetted to captain on September 13, 1847 (for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chapultepec).
  • Following the Mexican-American War, Gordon Granger served for roughly thirteen years in the American West (mostly in Texas and New Mexico).
  • On May 24, 1852, Gordon Granger was promoted to first lieutenant.
  • When the Civil War erupted, Gordon Granger was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the volunteer army and was assigned to mustering duty in Ohio, serving on the staff of Major General George B. McClellan from April 23 to May 31, 1861.
  • On May 5, Gordon Granger was promoted to the rank of captain in the regular army.
  • In June 1861, Gordon Granger was transferred to the staff of Major Samuel D. Sturgis in Missouri.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, for which he was brevetted to major “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct.”
  • Gordon Granger was promoted to the rank of colonel with the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Cavalry on September 2, 1861.
  • During the spring of 1862, Gordon Granger was placed in command of the Cavalry Division of Major General John Pope’s newly created Army of the Mississippi.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the Battle of New Madrid and the capture of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River during the spring of 1862
  • Gordon Granger was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 26, 1862.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the Siege of Corinth from April 29 to May 30, 1862.
  • Gordon Granger briefly commanded the 5th Division and Cavalry of the Army of the Mississippi from August 1 to September 5, 1862.
  • On September 17, 1862, Gordon Granger was promoted to major general of volunteers.
  • On October 7, 1862, Major General Horatio Wright, commanding Department of the Ohio, issued Special Order No. 51. Wright’s order appointed Gordon Granger to command the newly created Army of Kentucky.
  • November 17, 1862, Gordon Granger was appointed to the command of the District of Central Kentucky.
  • On June 8, 1863, Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding Department of the Cumberland, issued Special Field Order No. 156 reorganizing most of the units comprising the Army of the Kentucky. Many of the soldiers remained under Gordon Granger’s command as the Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the Tullahoma Campaign (June 24–July 3, 1863), driving Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee out of Middle Tennessee.
  • Gordon Granger commanded the District of the Cumberland, from June 24 to October 10, 1863.
  • Gordon Granger’s assistance to General George H. Thomas helped prevent a complete rout of Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863
  • Gordon Granger was later brevetted to colonel in the regular army “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chattanooga.”
  • On October 9, 1863, Gordon Granger was placed in command of the newly created 4th Army Corps.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the rout of Confederate troops at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 24, 1863.
  • Gordon Granger was brevetted to colonel in the regular army “for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chattanooga.”
  • Gordon Granger participated in the Knoxville Campaign during the autumn of 1863.
  • Some historians, as well as some of Gordon Granger’s contemporaries, believed his abrasive nature hindered the advancement of his military career. That seemed to be especially true in his relations with Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.
  • On April 4, 1864, the U.S. War Department issued General Order No. 144, announcing that “Maj. Gen. G. Granger is relieved from command of the Fourth Army Corps, and Maj. Gen. 0. 0. Howard is assigned in his stead.”
  • By July 1, 1864, Gordon Granger was in danger of being mustered out of volunteer service because he did not have a command.
  • On June 30, 1864, Gordon Granger received a relatively obscure assignment as a division commander under Major General Edward R. Canby in the Military Division of the Mississippi.
  • Gordon Granger took part in operations against Fort Gaines (August 4‑8, 1864), and the siege and bombardment of Fort Morgan (August 10‑22, 1864).
  • Gordon Granger was placed in command of the District of West Florida and Southern Alabama (Department of the Gulf), from September 12, 1864, through February 26, 1865.
  • On February 18, 1864, Gordon Granger was placed in command of the reorganized 13th Army Corps.
  • Gordon Granger took part in the siege and capture of Fort Spanish (March 27-April 8, 1865) and Fort Blakely (April 2-9, 1865), which eventually led to the occupation of Mobile, Alabama. For his leadership in those engagements, Granger was later brevetted to brigadier general in the regular army, effective March 13, 1865.
  • When the war ended, Granger was placed in command of the Department of Texas on June 10, 1865.
  • Upon arriving at Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 (Department of Texas) that declared freedom for all slaves in Texas.
  • Gordon Granger’s declaration of freedom in Texas set off jubilant celebrations among former slaves and served as the progenitor of modern-day Juneteenth celebrations across America.
  • Gordon Granger was relieved of his command of the Department of Texas on August 6, 1865.
  • Gordon Granger commanded of the Department of Kentucky on August 12, 1865 to January 15, 1866.
  • Gordon Granger mustered out of the volunteer army on January 15, 1866.
  • After leaving volunteer service, Granger remained in the regular army.
  • On July 28, 1866, January 15, 1866 Gordon Granger was promoted to colonel of the Twenty-fifth Infantry.
  • Gordon Granger commanded the District of Memphis from September 1, 1867, to February 18, 1868, and from October 6, 1868, to March 1869.
  • On July14, 1869, Gordon Granger married Maria Letcher, who was twenty years his junior. Their marriage produced one son and one daughter who died in infancy.
  • On December 15, 1870, Gordon Granger was assigned to the 15th Infantry and ordered to the New Mexico Territory.
  • On October 31, 1865, Gordon Granger was placed in command of the District of New Mexico.
  • Gordon Granger died on January 10, 1876 after suffering a stroke in Santa Fe.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Gordon Granger - Facts
  • Coverage November 6, 1822 - January 10, 1876
  • Author
  • Keywords Gordon Granger
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 1, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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