Brigadier General Darius N. Couch (USV)


Aug 27, 2016
Hangzhou, China (Wisconsin, USA)

Brigadier General Darius Nash Couch (USV)

Darius Nash Couch was born 23 July 1822 in the village of Southeast in Putnam County, New York. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1846 and was commissioned second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery.

He saw action during the Mexican-American War at the Battle of Buena Vista where he was brevetted first lieutenant for "gallant and meritorious conduct." Following the war, he served at various posts. From 1853 to 1854, he conducted a scientific mission for the Smithsonian Institution in northern Mexico. He discovered the species known as Couch's kingbird and Couch's spadefoot toad. He is commemorated in the scientific names of two reptile species: Sceloporus couchii and Thamnophis couchii; one frog: Scaphiopus couchii; and one bird: Tyrannus couchii.

In 1855, he resigned his commission and became a New York City merchant. Then he moved to Taunton, Massachusetts, and worked as a copper fabricator in the company owned by his wife's family.

On 15 June 1861, Couch was appointed colonel of the 7th Massachusetts Infantry. In August, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded the 1st Division, IV Corps, Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles. However, in late July 1862, his health began to fail and he offered his resignation. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan refused to send it to the War Department, and instead Couch was promoted to major general. He missed the Battle of Antietam.

On 14 Novemeber 1862, Couch was assigned command of the II Corps and led it during the Battle of Fredericksburg as part of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner's "Right Grand Division". Couch's divisions were led by Winfield Scott Hancock, Oliver Otis Howard, and William French. His corps lost over 4,000 men during the Fredericksburg Campaign.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker reorganized the army, with Couch retaining II Corps command with Hancock, French, and Brig. Gen. John Gibbon leading his divisions (Howard was promoted to command XI Corps). Couch was now the senior corps command and second-in-command to Hooker during the Chancellorsville Campaign. On 2 May, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Hooker was concussed by an artillery shell hitting a post he was leaning on. Hooker resisted turning over temporary command to Couch, but finally Couch was given command and he decided to withdraw the army to defensive lines to the north.

However, Couch swore to never serve under Hooker again and requested reassignment. President Abraham Lincoln offered him command of the Army of the Potomac replacing Hooker, but he declined, citing poor health. He commanded the newly created Department of the Susquehanna during the Gettysburg Campaign. Fort Couch in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, was constructed under his direction. Assigned to protect Harrisburg, Couch directed militia to skirmish with enemy cavalry elements at Sporting Hill, one of the war's northernmost engagements.

Confederates again invaded Couch's department in August 1864 when Brig. Gen. John McCausland burned the town of Chambersburg. In December, Couch took command of XXIII Corps, Army of the Ohio.

He unsuccessfully ran as the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1865. He briefly served as president of a mining company in West Virginia. Couch moved to Connecticut in 1871, where he served as the Quartermaster General, then Adjutant General, for the state militia until 1884. He died in Norwalk, Connecticut, on 12 February 1897.