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H.S. Gansevoort

H.S. Gansevoort

Federal (USA)


Henry Sanford Gansevoort

(1835 - 1871)

Home State: New York

Command Billet: Battery Officer

Branch of Service: Artillery

Unit: 5th United States Artillery, Battery C

Before Antietam

He was educated at the Albany Academy, Phillips Andover Academy, Princeton College (class of 1855), and Harvard Law School (1858). Immediately before the War he was practicing law in New York City having previously completed the Grand Tour of Europe. He served briefly as Private in the 7th NY Militia in Washington DC , but soon obtained a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th US Artillery. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in March 1862 and served with his battery on the Peninsula and at Second Manassass.

On the Campaign

He was on the Maryland Campaign and saw action at Antietam on the 17th, having command of the battery for some of that day. He received a brevet to Captain for his "gallant and meritorious service" there. He described his experience a few days later in a letter home: the morning, about ten o'clock, General Hooker ordered our battery to the extreme front, and took it there himself. We passed through a wood, then over a ploughed field into a pasture. Above us in front was a cornfield and a wood. The enemy were driving our troops in front. The balls fell thick around us, but we came into battery quickly, and opened. Our execution was very great, but it was at a great expense. Our horses commenced to fall, until at least twenty were either killed or wounded. Our men fell fast, seventeen killed or wounded. My horse was shot in the flank by a Minie, and struck also by a piece of shell. My stirrup was broken by a ball, and I was wounded by a ball in the right cheek. It was a very narrow escape, but merely a flesh-wound, well already.

The infantry on our right fled, and also on our left. As we came in, a battery on our left retired, and we were left alone without support. The rebels were coming down upon us, and we would have retired to save our pieces ; but many of the horses were killed, and it was impossible. We therefore continued firing ; and, after a short time, the horses of the caissons (which were in the rear, and covered by woods) came up with the limbers of the caissons, containing fresh ammunition. We then received fresh supports, and the fight went on. The enemy after a while retired, and with the last horses we also retired, having accomplished our mission, but with great loss.

During the rest of the day, we were under a severe artillery fire, which killed several of our men. As I was taking the battery to a new position (the captain being on General Hooker's staff for the rest of the day), a solid shot passed by my head, and knocked off the head of the swing driver by my side. This was a very narrow escape. In the evening, I took my section to the town, where I obtained volunteers...

The rest of the War

He took a leave to take an appointment in the Volunteers as Lieutenant Colonel of the new 13th New York Cavalry on 20 June 1863. He was promoted Colonel of the regiment in March 1864. He and his unit spent the majority of their War service in Northern Virginia, most famously seeking and defending against raids of JS Mosby.

After the War

He mustered out of the Volunteers in August 1865 but remained in regular Army service, being promoted Captain in 1866. He saw duty at Fortress Monroe (VA), Barrancas (FL), and Fort Independence, Boston. He died of illness on the way home to Albany aboard the steamer Drew on the Hudson River.

References & notes

Biographical details courtesy the Schenectady Digital History Archive, sourced from Reynolds1, with service facts from Heitman2. The photo above is from M. Uriguen's excellent collection3. An 1875 memorial of him is online from Google Books; it's the source of his wartime letter quoted above. A formal portrait painting of him hangs in Harvard's Memorial Hall.


12/15/1835; Albany, NY


04/12/1871; near Rhinebeck, NY


1   Reynolds, Cuyler (editor), Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911, pp. 65-72  [AotW citation 880]

2   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, pg. 444  [AotW citation 881]

3   Uriguen, Mikel, Photo Gallery (Generals and Brevet Generals), Generals of the Civil War, Published c. 1998, first accessed 01 January 1998, <>, Source page: /bg/bg1.htm  [AotW citation 882]