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T. M. Anderson

T. M. Anderson

Federal (USA)


Thomas McArthur Anderson

(1836 - 1917)

Home State: Ohio

Education: St Mary's College (MD), Cincinnati Law, Class of 1858

Command Billet: Commanding Battalion

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 12th United States Infantry, Second Battalion


see his Battle Report

Before Antietam

He graduated from St Mary's College, Maryland in 1855, and from Cincinnati Law School in 1858, when he was admitted to the bar. In 1860 he was a lawyer and lived on his parent's large farm at Kinderhook south of Columbus, OH. At the start of the war, on 20 April 1861, he enlisted as a Private in Company A, 6th Ohio Infantry, but shortly afterward, probably through the influence of his uncle Major Robert Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd United States Cavalry, to date from 7 May 1861. He was promoted to Captain, 12th US Infantry a week later.1

On the Campaign

He commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 12th Infantry in Maryland in 1862 and later remembered:

... with the Army of the Potomac, marching to meet Lee in Maryland. At South Mountain we were under fire but held in reserve. The Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry was immediately in our front. I asked a young commissary-sergeant of the Twenty-third who was in command of his regiment. He told me Major Hayes. As he was an old acquaintance I rode forward and spoke to him. As the commissary sergeant was William McKinley, within two minutes I spoke to two men who subsequently became Presidents of the United States.

On the afternoon of the 16th of September, while we approached the battle-field of Antietam, some negroes were digging post-holes to the left of the road. When the enemy opened an artillery fire on us these discolored Americans tried to hide in the holes. When, however, some of their shells struck the ground near by and threw showers of dirt over them, they popped out of their holes and sprinted across the field, rolling over whenever a shell exploded. This performance amused our men so, that they seemed to lose all sense of fear. Our brigade marched on and formed line of battle to the left of Sharpsburg with the right resting below the stone bridge. Just before daybreak on the 17th the First Battalion crossed the bridge and took open order just beyond. Later in the day the Fourth and the Fourteenth went over, and this force moved up to the crest of the hill in front of Sharpsburg. Pleasanton's cavalry crossed over and formed to the right of the bridge. The Third Infantry and the battalion of the Eighth and Twelfth were held in support of the artillery, which was firing on the enemy from our side of the creek. In the afternoon I was directed to detail two men to assist in working the guns. As old Martin Burke had insisted on training our men in artillery drill, they were able to give most efficient assistance.

Near sundown all the rebel force in the center of their line except two regiments and a battery, had been sent down to resist Burnside's advance. Captain Dryer sent a note stating this fact and asked for orders. At that time General McClellan was consulting with Gen. Fitz-John Porter and General Sykes immediately in our front. I saw the note delivered to General McClellan. General Sykes told me after the war that General McClellan, after reading the note, seemed inclined to order forward the reserves to break Lee's center, but that General Porter reminded him that he commanded the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic. The order was not given and the golden opportunity to win a great victory was lost. There never was a better opening for an effective infantry advance and a brilliant cavalry charge.

The rest of the War

Captain Anderson was in action at Fredericksburg (December 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 1863), where he was wounded, then on sick leave and detached duty until February 1864. He was then on the Wilderness campaign and at Spottsylvania (May 1864), where he was again wounded. After recovery, in November 1864 he was assigned to General Hooker's staff.2

After the War

He rejoined the 12th United States Infantry as Commanding Officer at Richmond on 4 July 1865. He continued in career Army service, transferred to the 21st US Infantry on 21 September 1866 and promoted to be their Major on 26 March 1868. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 9th Infnatry on 20 MArch 1879, and, finally, to command the 14th US Infantry - appointed Colonel - on 6 September 1886.

During the Spanish-American War ...

Brigadier General Thomas McArthur Anderson commanded the vanguard of the U.S. expeditionary force (Eighth Army Corps) in the Philippines. His troops left San Francisco on May 25, 1898 and arrived in Cavite on June 1. Once Anderson's troops had arrived, U.S. forces laid siege to Manila, but only when General Arthur MacArthur's forces reached the Philippines in late July did the land war begin. Anderson led a division of 8,500 men against the Spaniards, unaware that Admiral Dewey and General Merritt had made a deal with the Spanish commander of Manila, Fermin Jaudenes y Alvarez to surrender soon after the fighting started. He relinquished the city to U.S. forces, purposely excluding Aguinaldo and Philippine nationalists.

Anderson stayed in the Philippines to fight the insurrectionists until General Henry W. Lawton succeeded him in 1899.
He was appointed Brigadier General in the Regular Army in March 1899, and retired in January 1900.

In 1910 he and his wife were living with his son Van and daughter Lizzie and her family in Portland, OR.

References & notes

Additional biographical data from Patterson4. The photograph is from the USAMHI.5 Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1860 and 1910. His gravesite is on Findagrave. He married Elizabeth Van Winkle Anderson (1850-1914) in Richmond, VA in February 1869 and they had 6 children.

More on the Web

The complete text of his Civil War Recollections are online, transcribed by the living historians of the 12th U.S. Infantry; the original account is among Anderson's Papers at the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections [finding aid].

See a fine photograph of him with his family at Fort Vancouver in about 1898, over on the blog.


01/21/1836; Chillicothe, OH


05/08/1917; Portland, OR; burial in Arlington National Cemetery, VA


1   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, pg. 165  [AotW citation 37]

2   Transcribed online by Chris Piering at the 12th US Infantry site, Jim Hurd, webmaster.
Anderson, Thomas M., Brigadier General, USA, Civil War Recollections of the Twelfth Infantry, Journal of the Military Service Institution of the US, 1907-09-01, pp. 379-393  [AotW citation 45]

3   US Library of Congress, The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War, Published 1999, first accessed 01 January 2002, <>, Source page: /anderson.html  [AotW citation 41]

4   Patterson, Michael Robert, Burials In Arlington National Cemetery, Published 1996-, first accessed 01 January 2001, <>, Source page: /tmanders.htm  [AotW citation 38]

US Army, Military History Institute (USAMHI), American Civil War (ACW) photographs, Military History Institute Photograph Database, Published c. 1998, first accessed 01 January 2005, <>, Source page: Anderson  [AotW citation 39]