Portrait of Samuel W. Crawford

Remarkably, Samuel Crawford never attained the rank of major general in the Union volunteer army, despite being a divisional commander for over two years. [Wikimedia Commons]

Samuel Wylie Crawford - Facts

November 8, 1827 - November 3, 1892

Key facts about Samuel W. Crawford, a Union general officer who was possibly the only person present for the beginning of the American Civil War at Fort Sumter and for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.

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Full Name:

  • Samuel Wylie Crawford

Birth Date:

  • November 8, 1827

Birth Location:

  • Near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • Reverend Dr. Samuel Wylie Crawford and Jane (Agnew) Crawford

Education:

  • University of Pennsylvania (1846)
  • University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (1850)

Occupation:

  • Surgeon

Career Summary:

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

Place of Death:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Death:

  • November 3, 1892

Place of Burial:

  • Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Significance:

  • Samuel W. Crawford was the son of the Reverend Dr. Samuel Wylie Crawford and Jane (Agnew) Crawford.
  • Samuel W. Crawford graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1846 at the tender age of nineteen.
  • Samuel W. Crawford received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1850.
  • Samuel W. Crawford joined the U.S. Army medical corps as an assistant surgeon in 1851.
  • Samuel W. Crawford was serving as a medical officer at Fort Sumter when the South Carolina Militia began bombarding the facility, touching off the American Civil War on the morning of April 12, 1861.
  • During the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Samuel W. Crawford manned one of the fort’s batteries returning fire on the South Carolina Militia.
  • In June 1861, Samuel W. Crawford traded his scalpel for a saber, accepting a major’s commission with the 13th U.S. Infantry.
  • On June 10, 1862, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 63, announcing that the U.S. Senate had confirmed President Abraham Lincoln’s appointment of Crawford as Brigadier General of Volunteers, effective April 25, 1862.
  • In May 1862, Samuel W. Crawford was placed in command of a brigade in Nathaniel P. Banks’s 5th Army Corps operating in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • Samuel W. Crawford’s brigade bore the brunt of the punishment inflicted by the Confederates at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862.
  • Samuel W. Crawford was severely wounded in the right thigh during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, causing him to miss the next eight months of the Civil War.
  • On June 1, 1863, Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman, commander of the Department of Washington, named Samuel W. Crawford to the command of the 1st and 3rd brigades of the Pennsylvania Reserves.
  • When Confederate General Robert E. Lee launched his Gettysburg Campaign, Samuel W. Crawford’s Pennsylvania Reserves were ordered to leave the defenses around Washington DC, and join the Army of the Potomac as the undersized 3rd Division of Major General George Sykes’s 5th Army Corps.
  • On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 2, 1863) Samuel W. Crawford led his division in a spirited charge down the slopes of Little Round Top, into an area that became known as “the Valley of Death.”
  • Brevetted to colonel in the regular army to date from July 2, 1863, for “gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Samuel W. Crawford took part in the Mine Run Campaign.
  • Promoted to lieutenant colonel with the 2nd Infantry in the regular army on February 17, 1864.
  • Samuel W. Crawford commanded the 3rd Division of Major General Gouverneur K. Warren’s 5th Corps, of the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of the Wilderness (May 5 – 7, 1864), the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8 – 21, 1864), and the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek (May 29 – 30, 1864).
  • Samuel W. Crawford was wounded during the Battle of Globe Tavern (August 18-21, 1864).
  • On February 14, 1865, Samuel W. Crawford was brevetted to major general in the volunteer army, to rank from August 1, 1864, for conspicuous gallantry in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Jericho Mills, Bethesda Church, Petersburg and Globe Tavern.
  • During the Appomattox Campaign, Crawford led his division astray during the Battle of Five Forks (April 1, 1865) causing his corps commander, Major General Gouverneur K. Warren to go searching for him. Vexed by Warren’s absence, Major General Philip Sheridan relieved Warren of his command after the battle.
  • Samuel W. Crawford was present when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, giving him the distinction of possibly being the only person who was present for the beginning of the Civil War at Fort Sumter and for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • On April 10, 1866, Samuel W. Crawford was brevetted to colonel in the regular army for “gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg” to date from July 2, 1863.
  • On April 10, 1866, Samuel W. Crawford was brevetted to brigadier general in the regular army for “gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Five Forks” to date from March 13, 1865.
  • On July 17, 1866, Samuel W. Crawford was brevetted to major general “for gallant and meritorious services in the field during the war,” to date from March 13, 1865.
  • Samuel W. Crawford mustered out of volunteer service on January 15, 1866.
  • After mustering out of volunteer service, Samuel W. Crawford he remained in the regular army at the rank of major with the 13th U.S. Infantry.
  • Remarkably, Samuel W. Crawford never attained the rank of major general in the volunteer army, despite being a divisional commander for over two years.
  • On February 22, 1869, Samuel W. Crawford was promoted to colonel with the 16th U.S. Infantry.
  • Samuel W. Crawford transferred to the 2nd U.S. Infantry on March 15, 1869.
  • Samuel W. Crawford retired on February 19, 1873, due to injuries he received during the Civil War.
  • At the time of his retirement, Samuel W. Crawford was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, U.S. Army Retired.
  • After his retirement, Samuel W. Crawford lobbied extensively for heightened recognition of his unit’s achievements during the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • After his retirement, Samuel W. Crawford purchased the ground where his men fought at the Battle of Gettysburg, to ensure that it was preserved. The forty-nine-acre tract eventually became part of the Gettysburg National Park.
  • In 1988 a bronze statue of Samuel W. Crawford was dedicated in Gettysburg National Park along Crawford Avenue, near Devil’s Den and Little Round Top.
  • Samuel W. Crawford served as a director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association from 1880 to 1892.
  • Samuel W. Crawford died at his home in Philadelphia on November 3, 1892.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Samuel Wylie Crawford - Facts
  • Coverage November 8, 1827 - November 3, 1892
  • Author
  • Keywords Samuel Wylie Crawford
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021