Brevet Major General Adelbert Ames (USV)

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Major General Adelbert Ames (USV)

Adelbert Ames was born in East Thomaston, Maine, on 31 October 1835. His father Jesse was a sea captain who would later purchase Ames Mill (renowned for producing Malt-O-Meal) in Northfield, Minnesota. Adelbert became a sailor serving briefly on his father's ship.

He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1861, fifth in his class of forty-five. His class graduated a month early, while the 1862 class graduated early in June due to the oncoming civil war.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Artillery, eight days later he was promoted to first lieutenant in the 5th U.S. Artillery. During the Battle of First Bull Run, he was seriously wounded in the right thigh but refused to leave his guns. He was brevetted to the rank of major on 21 July and in 1893 received the Medal of Honor for this performance.

He returned to duty as part of the defenses of Washington, D.C., and then fought in McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. Col. Henry J. Hunt, chief of the artillery of the Army of the Potomac, commended Ames for his conduct at the Battle of Malvern Hill, and he received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel on 1 July 1862.

Although he was becoming an excellent artillery officer, significant promotions would only be available in the infantry. Ames returned to Maine and was assigned to command the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

The 20th Maine fought in the Maryland Campaign but saw little action at the Battle of Antietam. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, Ames led his regiment in one of the last fatal charges on 13 December 1862 against Marye's Heights. In May 1863, during the Chancellorsville Campaign, Ames volunteered as an aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, commander of the V Corps.

On 20 May, Ames was promoted to brigadier general and assume command of a brigade in the XI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Lt. Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain took command of the 20th Maine and led it to fame at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Ames also performed admirably under difficult circumstances at Gettysburg. His division commander Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow was wounded and captured on the first day of fighting. Ames led the division in retreat through Gettysburg to a position on Cemetery Hill. On 2 July, Ames' division bore the brunt of the assault on East Cemetery Hill by Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's Confederates. Ames himself even took part in the hand-to-hand fighting.

In 1864, Ames', now commanding a brigade in the X Corps of the Army of the James, served under Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. In the future, he would become Butler's son-in-law.

Ames shifted between brigade and division command following his service in the Army of the Potomac. He led the successful assault in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher and received a brevet promotion to major general in the Union Army and brigadier general in the Regular Army on 13 March 1865, for his role in the battle.

In 1868, Ames was appointed to be provisional governor in Mississippi. He took several steps to advance the rights of freed slaves, appoint the first black office-holders in state history. Despite white supremacist terrorism and violence, a general election was held in 1869.

The Mississippi Legislature elected Ames to the U.S. Senate after the readmission of Mississippi to the Union. He served from 24 February 1970 to 10 January 1874 as a Republican. He married Blanche Butler on 21 July 1870.

In 1873, he was elected governor of Mississippi and resigned his senate seat. In December 1874, Democrats launched a coup against the sheriff in Vicksburg. When the sheriff called on his supporters to restore him to office, there was a battle that ended in the Colfax Massacre. The situation deteriorated and Ames signed a peace treaty with Democratic leaders in which they guaranteed a full, free, fair election, which they did not keep. Democrats terrorized Republican voters and gained firm control of both houses of the legislature. In 1876, the legislature drew up articles of impeachment against him. Removal was certain, especially after his black lieutenant governor had been removed and the line of succession led to a Democrat. Ames', to avoid an expensive trial, agreed to resign his office on 29 March 1876.

In 1898, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in the Spanish-American War and fought in Cuba. During the Battle of San Juan Hill, the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division suffered high casualties with its brigade commander killed and the next two ranking regimental commanders wounded. Ames was assigned to command the brigade during the Siege of Santiago.

Ames died on 13 April 1933 in Ormond Beach, Florida. He was the last surviving fully ranked general who had served in the Civil War.

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