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Civil War Soldiers - Geary

Geary, John W., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland county, Pa., Dec. 30, 1819. He entered Jefferson college but was compelled to leave before graduation on account of his father's sudden death and loss of property, then taught school and was a civil engineer at the time of the outbreak of the Mexican war. He organized the "American Highlanders," and as lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd Penn. volunteer infantry joined Gen. Scott at Vera Cruz and commanded the regiment at Chapultepec, where he was twice wounded, and at Belen Gate the same day. His service won the approbation of the commanding general and he was made the first commander of the city and promoted colonel of his regiment. At the close of the war he went to California, was made first postmaster of San Francisco, and was authorized by President Polk to establish the postal service throughout California. He was elected by the people alcalde and first mayor of San Francisco, and also judge of the first instance. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention, where he was instrumental in securing the organization of California as a free state, and upon his return to Pennsylvania he retired for several years from public life to his farm in Westmoreland county. He was appointed by President Pierce governor of Kansas in 1856, but resigned the next year upon failing to secure the state a free state constitution. Upon the outbreak of the Civil war he organized, in April, 1861, a regiment of 1,500 men and reported for duty to Gen. Banks at Harper's Ferry, Va. He commanded in several engagements, distinguished himself and was wounded at Bolivar Heights, captured Leesburg, Va., March 8, 1862, and was made brigadier-general April 25. He was twice wounded at the battle of Cedar mountain, and on recovery was placed in command of the 2nd division of the 12th army corps, which he led in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He was subsequently transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, in Gen. Hooker's command, and distinguished himself at the battles of Wauhatchie and Lookout mountain. In Sherman's march to the sea he commanded the 2nd division of the 20th army corps, was the first to enter Savannah after its evacuation, Dec. 22, 1864, and for his conduct at the capture of Fort Jackson and gallantry at Savannah, he was appointed military governor of the city. He was brevetted major-general of volunteers, Jan. 12, 1865, "for fitness to command and promptness to execute." Upon returning to Pennsylvania in 1866, Gen. Geary was elected governor, and in 1869 he was re-elected. His administration was eminently successful, and, after his death, which occurred eighteen days after the expiration of his second term, the legislature erected a monument to his memory. Gen. Geary died in Hamburg, Pa., Feb. 8, 1873.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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