site logo
S. Sturgis

S. Sturgis

Federal (USA)

Brigadier General

Samuel Davis Sturgis

(1822 - 1889)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Education: US Military Academy, West Point, NY, Class of 1846

Command Billet: Commanding Division

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 2nd Division, IX Corps


see his Battle Report

Before Antietam

During the Mexican War, he served as a Lieutenant of Dragoons and was captured and held as a prisoner of war near Buena Vista, Mexico (soon exchanged). After the war, he served in the West, was promoted to First Lieutenant and Captain (March 1855), and took part in a number of Indian campaigns.

At the outbreak of the War he was in command of Fort Smith, Arkansas, with part of his regiment, the 1st U.S. Cavalry. All of his fellow officers resigned to go South; however, he refused and march his remaining troops with much of their government property to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was promoted to Major and at Wilson's Creek (MO) in August he succeeded to command of the Federal forces after the fall of General Nathaniel Lyon. The following March he was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers to rank from August 10, 1861, the day of the battle. After duty in the Washington defenses, he was ordered to the front to support General John Pope's Army of Virginia just prior to the Battle of Second Manassas. While attempting to secure priority for movement of his troops on the railroad, he was told that he must wait his turn as other troops and supplies were going forward to support Pope. His reaction was his now-famous remark, 'I don't care for John Pope one pinch of owl dung.'
(from Arlington Cemetery)

On the Campaign

Commanded the Second Division in the Federal Ninth (IX) Corps.

The rest of the War

He went west with IX Corps in 1863 and later had commands in Tennessee and Mississippi and the Department of the Ohio. In June 1864 he was in command at Brice's Cross Roads, Mississippi, his last action in War service.

After the War

In August 1865 he was mustered out of the volunteer service and returned to his regular rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 6th U.S. Cavalry. On May 6, 1869 be became Colonel of the 7th U.S. Cavalry (his Lieutenant Colonel was George Armstrong Custer). He was on recruiting duty at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn (1876). He was stationed at a number of Western forts during the two decades that followed the war and for four years he was Governor of the Soldiers Home in Washington. He was retired for age in 1886.

References & notes

Sources: Heitman, Francis Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, Washington, US Government Printing Office, 1903; and
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889

One son, James Garland Sturgis (1854-1876) was graduated at the United States Military Academy in 1875, and was killed in the battle at the Little Big Horn river, 25 June, 1876. He was in the 7th US Cavalry, G. A. Custer, commanding.
His namesake son, Samuel Davis Sturgis, Jr, (1861-1933) was graduated West Point in the Class of 1884, and was in the Artillery, rising to the rank of Major General, including service as Division commander in WWI. He retired in 1925.
His Grandson Samuel Davis Sturgis III (1897-1964), West Point Class of 1918, was also in career Army service, in the Engineers. He rose to be Lieutenant General and Army Chief Engineer before retiring in 1956.


6/11/1822; Shippensburg, PA


9/28/1889 St Paul, MN; burial in Arlington National Cemetery, VA