Robert B. Garnett portrait

Union forces mortally wounded Confederate Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford on July 13, 1861, making him the first general officer on either side to be killed during the American Civil War. [Wikimedia Commons]

Robert Selden Garnett, Jr. - Facts

December 16, 1819 - July 13, 1861

Key facts about Confederate Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett who was the first general officer on either side to be killed during the American Civil War.

Advertisements

Birth Date:

  • December 16, 1819

Birth Location:

  • Family plantation, “Champlain” in Essex County, Virginia

Parents:

  • Robert Selden Garnett Sr. and Olympia Charlotte (DeGouges) Garnett

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1841)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Major (USA)
  • Brigadier General (CSA)

Spouse:

  • Marianna E. Nelson (1857)

Place of Death:

  • Corrick’s Ford, Tucker County, Virginia

Date of Death:

  • July 13, 1861

Place of Burial:

  • Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York

Significance:

  • Robert S. Garnett was one of seven children born to Robert Selden Garnett Sr. and Olympia Charlotte (DeGouges) Garnett.
  • Robert S. Garnett’s father represented Virginia for five terms in the U.S. Congress.
  • Robert S. Garnett’s mother was the granddaughter of French playwright and feminist, Olympe de Gouges, who the Jacobins guillotined in 1793 during the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution.
  • Robert S. Garnett graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1841, 27th in his class of 52 cadets.
  • Robert S. Garnett’s cousin Richard attended United States Military Academy and later became a Confederate general who was killed during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Following his graduation from West Point, Robert S. Garnett was commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant on July 1, 1841, and assigned to the 4th U.S. Artillery in upstate New York.
  • On January 31, 1842, Robert S. Garnett was promoted to second lieutenant.
  • From July 5, 1843 to Oct. 17, 1844, Robert S. Garnett served as an assistant instructor of infantry tactics at the U.S. Military Academy.
  • Robert S. Garnett participated in the Battle of Palo Alto (May 8, 1846) and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma (May 9, 1846) with General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation.
  • Robert S. Garnett was promoted to first lieutenant on August 18, 1846.
  • On September 23, 1846 Robert S. Garnett was brevetted to captain for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Monterey (September 21 – 23, 1846).
  • Robert S. Garnett was brevetted to major on February 23, 1847, for distinguished service at the Battle of Buena Vista (February 22 – 23, 1847).
  • In 1849, Robert S. Garnett was ordered to carry dispatches to California. During his trip, Garnett completed a sketch that later was later adapted to complete the Great Seal of the State of California.
  • On March 9, 1851, Robert S. Garnett was promoted to captain.
  • From November 1852 to July 1854, Robert S. Garnett served as Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy under Superintendent Robert E. Lee.
  • On March 27, 1855, Robert S. Garnett was promoted to major.
  • Robert S. Garnett married Marianna E. Nelson of Boston, Massachusetts, on January 24, 1857.
  • Robert S. Garnett’s wife and young son died within six days of each other in September 1858.
  • After Virginia seceded from the Union, Governor John Letcher appointed Robert S. Garnett as a colonel and adjutant general of the Virginia Provisional Army on April 25, 1861.
  • The U.S. Army accepted Robert S. Garnett’s resignation on April 30, 1861.
  • After the Virginia Provisional Army was subsumed by the Confederacy, Robert S. Garnett was commissioned as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army on June 6, 1861.
  • On June 8, 1861, the Confederate government issued Special Orders, No. 67 placing Robert S. Garnett in command of “the troops to operate in Northern Virginia” (later known as the Army of the Northwest).
  • Robert S. Garnett was mortally wounded by a gunshot to the back at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford on July 13, 1861.
  • Robert S. Garnett was the first general officer to be killed during the Civil War.
  • Robert S. Garnett was originally buried in Baltimore.
  • On August 28, 1865, Robert S. Garnett’s remains were re-interred next to the graves of his wife and son at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Advertisements

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Robert Selden Garnett, Jr. - Facts
  • Coverage December 16, 1819 - July 13, 1861
  • Author
  • Keywords Robert Selden Garnett, Jr.
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021