A Civil War Biography

George Washington Getty

Getty was born 2 October 1819 in Georgetown, Washington D.C. He was appointed to West Point at the age of 16 graduating 15th in the class of 1840. As an artillery officer with the rank of lieutenant he fought with Winfield Scott's army during the war with Mexico for which service he was brevetted for gallantry. Getty fought the Seminoles in Florida in 1849-50 then again in 1856-57. He was promoted to captain in 1853.

The beginning of the war found Getty on the frontier assigned to the 4th US Artillery. On 28 September 1861 he was appointed lieutenant colonel and aide-de-camp in the Union volunteer service. He commanded 4 batteries of artillery during the 1862 Peninsula campaign. During the Maryland campaign he fought at South Mountain and Antietam as the acting Chief of Artillery in Major General Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps. Shortly after Antietam Getty was promoted to brigadier general to date from 25 September 1862. He commanded the 3rd Division of the IX Corps at Fredericksburg.

In March 1863, the division became the 2nd Division VII Corps when it was sent to Suffolk, where the Federal Army under Major General John A. Dix successfully resisted General James Longstreet's investment of the town, which guarded the southern approaches to Norfolk and Hampton Roads. On 19 April 1863 the Federals were heavily engaged at Hill's Point. Getty earned praise when he led an assault column in its successful attack on Battery (Fort) Huger. During his stay in Virginia Getty would temporarily commanded the VII Corps and the Army of Virginia. He was given command of all forces at Norfolk and Portsmouth on 15 July 1863 and would remain in command there until 14 January 1864.

Getty then rejoined the Army of the Potomac as its Inspector General. He was severely wounded while leading the 2nd Division of Major General John Sedgwick's VI Corps at the Wilderness. Getty was brevetted major general of volunteers when he returned to duty on 1 August 1864 following his recuperation. He again led the 2nd Division of the VI Corps this time during Major General Philip Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley campaign seeing action at Winchester, Cedar Creek, and Fishers Hill. During the siege of Petersburg Getty commanded the VI Corps now back attached to Army of the Potomac. It was his old 2nd Division that made the initial breakthrough at Petersburg on 2 April 1865. Getty's VI Corps was actively involved in pursuing the Army of Northern Virginia leading to the surrender at Appomattox on 9 April. For his war service Getty was brevetted brigadier and major general in the regular army on 13 March 1865.

Following the war Getty was appointed colonel in the 38th U.S. Infantry in 1866. He was transferred to the 3rd U.S. Artillery in 1871 then commanded the artillery school at Fort Monroe for six years. Getty, along with John Schofield and Alfred Terry, was a member of the 1879 court martial that exonerated Major General Fitz John Porter of charges stemming from Porter's involvement at Second Bull Run. After a 48 year army career Getty retired in 1883 to a farm at Forest Glen, Maryland where he died on 1 October 1901, one day shy of his 82nd birthday.

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