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Civil War Soldiers - Wadsworth

Wadsworth, James S., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born in Geneseo, Livingston county, N. Y., Oct. 30, 1807. He was the son of James Wadsworth, an extensive landowner and philanthropist of Geneseo, under whose care he received a thorough rudimentary education, after which he was sent to Harvard college and thence to Yale college, where he completed his studies. Soon after graduating he entered upon the study of law in Albany, finishing his course in the office of the great statesman and lawyer, Daniel Webster, and was admitted to the bar in 1833, but did not practice his profession, as the charge of his immense estate required his whole attention. A few years later Mr. Wadsworth turned his attention somewhat to local politics. A Federalist by education and a Democrat by conviction, he early took part in the "Free Soil" movement that divided the Democracy of the state, giving a zealous support to the presidential candidate of that party in 1848 and to the Republican candidates of 1856 and 1860. Like his father, he manifested a deep and active interest in the cause of education. He founded a public library at Geneseo; was a liberal subscriber to the endowment of Geneseo college; aided in the establishment of the school district library system; and in every way did what lay in his power to relieve suffering and diffuse the benefits of our free institutions. Acting as a commissioner under an appointment from the legislature of New York to the Peace Convention held in Washington in 1861, when it became evident that war was inevitable he was prompt to offer his services to the government. When communication with the capital was cut off he chartered two ships upon his own responsibility, loaded them with provisions and proceeded with them to Annapolis, where they arrived most opportunely to supply the pressing necessities of the government. Commencing his military career as a volunteer aide to Gen. McDowell at the first battle of Bull Run, upon the recommendation of that general, Wadsworth was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers in Aug., 1861, and in March, 1862, became military governor of the District of Columbia. In the election of governor of New York in Nov., 1862, Gen. Wadsworth was the Republican candidate, but was defeated by Mr. Seymour. In the following December he was assigned to the command of a division in the Army of the Potomac. At Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville he displayed great military skill, and at Gettysburg his division saved the first day. Upon the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac for the campaign of 1864, Gen. Wadsworth was assigned to the command of the 4th division, 5th corps, at the head of which he bravely met his death, in the battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864.

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

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