A Civil War Biography

George Lucas Hartsuff

Hartsuff was born 28 May 1830 in Tyre, New York. In 1842 his family moved to Michigan. In 1848 he entered West Point from which he graduated 19th in the class of 1852 and was posted to the artillery. After a month of garrison duty in New York the new 2nd lieutenant was sent to Fort Brown, Texas where he did scouting and escort duty. He contracted yellow fever in December of 1853 and would not return to active duty until June 1854. He joined the 2nd US artillery in Florida on 1 July 1854. He spent the next nearly year and a half exploring and surveying the Indian country in Florida. On 20 December 1855, Hartsuff and an exploration party he was leading were attacked by Seminoles igniting the Billy Bowlegs or Third Seminole War. In the encounter Hartsuff was wounded twice and had to walk three days to safety. He would recover from his wounds and on 11 July 1856 was sent to Fort Columbus, New York. On 29 September 1856 he was assigned as an assistant artillery tactics instructor at West Point where he served until 14 June 1859. He was then sent to Fort Mackinac, Michigan where he served until the fall of 1860.

Hartsuff's Civil War service began with a secret expedition in April 1861 to reinforce Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola, Florida. In July 1861 he was appointed chief of staff in the Department of West Virginia under the command of William S. Rosecrans. Hartsuff was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and given command of the 3rd brigade, 2nd division in Irvin McDowell's III Corps. Hartsuff led these troops at Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run. This brigade, with Hartsuff still in command, became the 3rd brigade, 2nd division in Joseph Hooker's I Corps. Hartsuff led these troops at South Mountain and Antietam where he was severely wounded. He was promoted to major general on 19 November 1862. His wound kept him from combat service so he served mostly on court marshal duty. He was appointed to command the XXIII Corps in May 1863 and saw some duty in Kentucky and East Tennessee before ill health forced him to give up the position. He finally returned to field command in March 1865 in command of the defenses at Bermuda Hundred in the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. He was brevetted brigadier and major general in the regular army on 13 March 1865.

After the war Hartsuff remained in the army serving in the adjutant general department. In 1866 he was sent to the Department of the Gulf where he served as adjutant general. He would serve in this same capacity in the Fifth Military District and the Military Division of the Missouri. He retired in 1871 as a result of his war injuries. He died of pneumonia on 16 May 1874 in New York City. The autopsy showed the inflammation in his lungs was around the scar from the wound he had received while fighting Seminoles in Florida almost 19 years earlier.

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