For a small Illinois town along the Mississippi River, it is quite amazing that nine Union generals were from Galena, Illinois.
The most famous of course was Ulysses S. Grant. The others were John Eugene Smith, John Corson Smith, William Rueben Rowley, John Aaron Rawlins, Ely Samuel Parker, Jasper Adalmorn Maltby, John Oliver Duerr, and Augustas Louis Chetlain.
Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Ohio but moved to Galena in 1860. He was originally commissioned a Colonel in the 21st Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in March 1864 and commanded all Union forces from that time through the war. He was appointed as Secretary of War in 1867 and then was elected President of the United States in 1872. He died in New York in 1885 and is buried in Grants Tomb in New York City’s Riverside Park.
Augustus Louis Chetlain was born in St. Louis but moved to Galena in 1826. There he operated a mercantile business. He helped organize the Jo Daviess Guards, the town’s first volunteer company for the Union war effort. He became a Captain of the 12th Illlinois Infantry. He attained the rank of Brevet Major General in June 1864 and worked to raise black troops in Tennessee and Kentucky. He died in 1914 and is buried in Galena.
John Oliver Duerr moved to Galena in 1860. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He rose through the ranks until being promoted to Brevet Brigadier General in July 1865. He died in 1880 and is buried in Monticello, Iowa where he had served as town mayor.
Jasper Adalmorn Maltby moved to Galena in the 1850s and operated a gunsmith shop. He was the inventor of a telescopic site. When the Civil War started, he helped organize the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and was elected Lt. Colonel. Maltby was wounded several times, but returned to battle only to be wounded again. He never recovered from the last wounds. He was promoted to Brigadier General in August of 1863. He died in March 1868 and is buried in Galena.
Ely Samuel Parker was a Seneca Indian who was an engineer. He was sent to oversee construction of a custom house and marine hospital in Galena in 1857. He became friends with Ulysses S. Grant. Parker joined Grant’s staff as his personal secretary and served through the war. Parker was with General Grant at the signing of the surrender at Appomattox courthouse on April 9, 1865. He was one of only two Native Americans to receive the rank of Brigadier General during the Civil War. He died in 1895 and is interred on Seneca lands in western New York.
John Aaron Rawlins was born in Galena and became an attorney. He was the Galena City Attorney and an elected delegate in support of Stephen A. Douglas for president. He served on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant and was promoted to Brigadier General in March 1865. He was appointed Secretary of War in March 1869. Rawlings died in September, 1869 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery, Washington, DC.
William Rueben Rowley was a teacher and government worker who moved to Jo Daviess County in 1843. He enlisted as First Lt. in the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served as aide-to-camp to General Ulysses Grant. In 1866 he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General for his war service. He died in 1886 and is buried in Galena.
John Corson Smith was a builder in Galena having moved there in 1854. He enlisted in the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in 1861. In 1865 he was promoted to Brevet General. He did in 1910 and is buried in Galena.
John Eugene Smith was an immigrant from Switzerland who operated a jewelry store in Galena for twenty-five years. When the war started he organized the Washburne Lead Mine Regiment (45th Illinois Infantry). He attained the rank of Major General. He is buried in Galena.
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