Born in Leeds, ME, Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard (right) graduated from West Point in 1854. A deeply religious man, he was given command of the 3rd Maine Infantry at the start of the Civil War. Quickly rising to brigade command, Howard lost his right arm at the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862. Recovering, he ascended to lead a division at Antietam when Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick was wounded. Taking part in the disaster at Fredericksburg that December, Howard assumed command of the largely German XI Corps the following spring. In this role, Howard suffered two major setbacks when his men were routed at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and driven back at Gettysburg on July 1. Sent west in September, Howard and XI Corps aided in the relief of Chattanooga in November. The following spring, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman assigned Howard to lead IV Corps in the Army of the Tennessee. Taking part in the Atlanta Campaign, he assumed command of the army after Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson was killed in July. Playing a key role in the city's fall, Howard later led the right wing of Sherman's March to the Sea in November and December. Moving north with Sherman in the spring of 1865, he advanced through the Carolinas and was present when Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered in late April. After the war, Howard led the Freedmen's Bureau and later conducted a campaign against the Nez Perce which saw him capture Chief Joseph. Retiring in 1894, he died at Burlington, VT in 1909.
Civil War - Western Commanders:
- Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant
- Major General William S. Rosecrans
- Major General William T. Sherman
- Major General George H. Thomas
- Major General James B. McPherson
Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress