James Samuel Wadsworth was born on October 30, 1807 in Geneseo, New York. He was a wealthy landowner who devoted his life to pubic service and politics, eventually becoming a Free Soil Republican. At the start of the Civil War he offered himself to the Union cause, rising to command of a division. He was a candidate for Governor of New York but refused to leave the army to campaign and was not elected.
Rufus Dawes, the lieutenant colonel of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers in the Iron Brigade, wrote that Wadsworth, “was an intensely practical commander, indefatigable as a worker, and looking closely after details. No commander could do more for the personal comfort of his men.”
There is a monument to James Wadsworth on the Wilderness Battlefield. He was mortally wounded there on May 5, 1864. Fort Wadsworth is a strongpoint in the siege lines around Petersburg, Virginia, and can still be seen today. A larger and more substantial Fort Wadsworth guarded the west side of the entrance to New York Harbor.
From the front of the monument
Brevet Major General
James Samuel Wadsworth
United States Volunteers
1807 – 1864
in command of
First Division First Army Corps
Battle of Gettysburg
July 1, 2, 3 1863
From the rear of the monument
Volunteer aid-de-camp with the rank of Major on personal staff
of Brigadier General Irvin McDowell at Battle of Manassas July 21, 1861.
Brigadier General U.S.V. August 23, and from August 27, 1861 to
March 12, 1862, in command of a brigade of New York regiments in
McDowell’s Division, Army of the Potomac.
Military Governor of District of Columbia Mar. 17 to Nov. 19, 1862.
Commanded First Division, First Corps, from December 23 to 26, 1862;
First Corps, December 26, 1862 to January 4, 1863; First Division, First Corps
January 4 to February 27; First Corps, February 27 to March 8; and First
Division, First Corps, March 9 to March 22; March 25 to May 17; May 27 to
July 15, 1863.
Assigned October 9, to special duty-inspection of colored troops
to December 19, 1863. Detailed January 9, 1864; on Court of Inquiry.
Ordered March 15, 1864, to report to Gen. Meade. In command of
Fourth Division, Fifth Corps, March 27 to April 11; April 13 until mortally
wounded May 6, 1864, in the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia.
Died May 8, 1864.
Appointed Brevet Major General U.S.V., to rank from May 6, 1864
for gallant conduct at the Battle of Gettysburg and the Wilderness.
Location of the monument to James Wadsworth at Gettysburg
The monument to Brigadier General James Wadsworth is west of Gettysburg on the east side of Reynolds Avenue.
It is about 88 yards north of the Railroad Cut. (39°50’17.8″N 77°14’51.7″W)