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J. C. Tidball

J. C. Tidball

Federal (USA)


John Coldwell Tidball

(1825 - 1906)

Home State: Ohio

Education: US Military Academy, West Point, NY, Class of 1848;Class Rank: 7th

Command Billet: Battery Commander

Branch of Service: Artillery

Unit: 2nd United States Artillery, Battery A


see his Battle Report

Before Antietam

After West Point, 2nd Lt Tidball served in the Seminole Wars in Florida from 1849-1850. He spent three years in South Carolina before being assigned to frontier duty at Fort Defiance, New Mexico, where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. Tidball served on Coast Survey from September 6, 1854-September 20, 1859. He was garrisoned at the Artillery School for Practice at Fort Monroe, Virginia, until 1860. During this period he was part of the expedition sent to suppress John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry.

When the Civil War began, Tidball was stationed with Battery A of the 2nd U.S. Artillery at Fort Pickens near Pensacola, Florida. He was offered a captain's post in both his own battery and the 12th U.S. Infantry, but he declined the latter.

On the Campaign

General Pleasonton, commanding the Cavalry, described the deployment of Captain Tidball's battery at Antietam in his Report:

Finding the enemy had a cross-fire of artillery on the [Middle] bridge, and that his sharpshooters covered it in front, I first threw forward some cavalry skirmishers, and then advanced Tidball's battery by piece, under a heavy fire, to drive off the sharpshooters with canister. This plan in a short time succeeded in clearing the front sufficiently to obtain positions for Gibson's, Robertson's, Tidball's, and Hains' batteries, who opened on the enemy with great effect, having a direct fire in front and an enfilading fire in front of Sumner's corps on the right, and supporting the right of Burnside's corps on the left, the distance to Sumner's corps being nearly a mile, and something greater to that of Burnside's, my force being the only one in front, connecting the two corps. The fire was kept up over two hours...

Captain Tidball was cited, by Brevet, for gallantry at the battle.

The rest of the War

He took command of the 2nd Artillery Brigade for the Cavalry Corps (known as the Horse Artillery) of the Army of the Potomac as Lieutenant Colonel after the battle. He was promoted to Colonel of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery on August 28, 1863, and became Brigadier General and Artillery Chief of the 9th Army Corps the following August. During the Civil War, Tidball was breveted a total of six times for gallant and meritorious service on the field.

After the War

After he was mustered out of volunteer service on September 30, 1865, General Tidball resumed his position of Captain in the 2nd U.S. Artillery. He served in the west, where he was promoted to Major in 1867, and in Alaska, where he was in command of the District of Alaska and wrote the Manual for Heavy Artillery which later became a standard text at Artillery School at Fort Monroe. He was the Superintendent of Artillery Instruction at that institution from 1874-1881, when he became General Sherman's aide-de-camp. Tidball accompanied Sherman on his 1883 expedition across the western United States and Canada. In 1884 he returned to Virginia where he occupied the post of Commander of the Artillery School until his retirement in 1889. He was appointed Brigadier General on the retired list in 1904.

References & notes

Brief Bio text from Gettysburg College - holders of The Papers of John C. Tidball (original data apparently from his NY Times Obituary).

More on the Web

He's seen in two James F. Gibson photos taken earlier in 1862, at Gaines Mill, one of which is the source of his picture above. Search the Library of Congress Collection for "Tidball" to see them.

See also his NY Times Obituary of 16 May 1906.


1/25/1825; near Wheeling, VA


5/15/1906; Montclair, NJ; burial in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY