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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1840

Vol. II
p53
1049

(Born N. Y.)

Oliver L. Shepherd

(Ap'd N. Y.)

33

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1836, to July 1, 1840, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 1, 1840.

Second Lieut., 3d Infantry, Oct. 2, 1840.

Served: on frontier duty at Ft. Gibson, I. T., 1840‑41; in the Florida War, 1841‑42; in garrison at Ft. Stansbury, Fla., 1842‑43, — and Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1843‑44; on frontier duty at Ft. Jesup (Camp

(First Lieut., 3d Infantry, Nov. 3, 1845)

Wilkins), La., 1844, 1845; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846, being engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8, 1846, — and Battle of Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, May 9, 1846; on Recruiting service, 1846‑47; in the War with Mexico, 1847‑48, being p54engaged in the Skirmish at the National Bridge, Aug. 12, Plan del Rio, Aug. 15, and Ocalaca, Aug. 16, 1847, — Battle of Contreras, Aug. 19‑20,

(Bvt. Captain, Aug. 20, 1847, for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct
in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex.)

1847, — Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, — Storming of Chapultepec, Sep. 13, 1847, — and Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico,

(Bvt. Major, Sep. 13, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chapultepec, Mex.)

Sep. 13‑14, 1847; in garrison at East Pascagoula, Mis., 1848; on frontier

(Captain, 3d Infantry, Dec. 1, 1847)

duty at San Antonio, Tex., 1848‑49, — March to El Paso, 1849, — Ft. Bliss, Tex., 1849‑50, — Doña Ana, N. M., 1850‑51, — Ft. Conrad, N. M., 1851‑52, — Camp Vigilance, N. M., 1852, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1853, — on Court Martial at Ft. Fillmore, N. M., 1853‑54, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1854, — Navajo Country, 1854, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1855, — Court Martial at Ft. Bliss, Tex., 1855, — Albuquerque, N. M., 1855‑56, — Scouting, 1856, against the Apache Indians, being engaged in a Skirmish on the Sierra del Almagre, N. M., Mar., 1856, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1856‑57, — Albuquerque, N. M., 1857, — Gila Expedition, 1857, being engaged in a Skirmish at the Cañon de los Muertos Carneros, N. M., against Mogollon Indians, May 24, 1857, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1858‑59, — Navajo Expedition, 1859, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1859, — Scouting, 1859, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1859‑60, being engaged in its defense against Navajo Indians, Apr. 30, 1860, — March to Texas, 1860, — Ft. Clark, Tex., 1860‑61, — and Ft. Duncan, Tex., 1861; en route to Indianola, and thence to New York, 1861; and in garrison at Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in command of battalion of 3d Infantry in the defenses of Washington, D. C., May‑June, 1861; on mustering duty at New York city, July to Dec.,

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 18th Infantry, May 14, 1861)

1861; in the Tennessee and Mississippi Campaign (Army of the Ohio), Dec., 1861, to June, 1862, being engaged in the Advance upon and Siege of Corinth, Mis., Apr.‑May, 1862, routing a Rebel camp, May 17, 1862, —

(Bvt. Colonel, May 17, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Siege of Corinth, Mis.)

and pursuit of the Rebels to Baldwin, Mis., May 30‑31, 1862; in Major-General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Buell's movement through Alabama and Tennessee to Louisville, Ky., July to Sep., 1862; on Court of Inquiry at Allegheny Arsenal, Pa., Oct. to Nov., 1862; in Major-General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Rosecrans' Tennessee Campaign (Army of the Cumberland), Nov., 1862, to Apr. 17, 1863, commanding

(Colonel, 15th Infantry, Jan. 21, 1863)

brigade of regulars in the Battle of Stone River, Dec. 31, 1862, to Jan. 3, 1863; and as Superintendent of Regimental Recruiting Service at Ft. Adams, R. I., May 7, 1863, to Feb. 13, 1866.

Bvt. Brig.‑General, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Stone River, Ten.

Served: on leave of absence, Feb. 21 to Nov. 10, 1866; in command of regiment, headquarters Macon, Ga., Nov. 10, 1866, to Dec. 31, 1867; on leave of absence and awaiting orders, Dec. 31, 1867, to Mar. 6, 1868; in command of regiment and Sub-District of Alabama, Mar. 6 to Aug. 12, 1868, — and post of Marshall, Tex., Aug. 27 to Sep. 3, 1868; awaiting orders, before Sub-Judiciary Committee of the U. S. House of Representatives, and on Court of Inquiry, 1868‑69; in command of regiment, p55June 11 to Nov. 13, 1869; and on leave of absence to Dec. 15, 1870; and

(Retired from Active Service, Dec. 15, 1870,
on his own application, after 30 Consecutive Years of Service)

in confinement, undergoing sentence of Court Martial, Apr. 2, 1878, to Apr. 2, 1879.a

[Supplement, Vol. IV: 1890‑1900]

Vol. IV
p54
Military History. — Retired officer, — removed to New York City, 1890.

Died Apr. 15, 1894, in New York, N. Y.: Aged 79.

See Annual Association of Graduates, U. S. M. A., 1894, for an obituary notice.


Thayer's Note:

a If in a summary of a military career mention of a court-martial is unavoidable, not so in an obituary notice — de mortuis nil nisi bonum — thus not a word of it in the report of the Association of Graduates.

A hundred and some years later, however, the reader deserves better than to be mystified; the details follow. Col. Shepherd was court-martialed for having diverted money from a fund subscribed by the officers and soldiers of the Regular Brigade, Army of the Cumberland, to erect a monument to the memory of those who fell at the battle of Stone River; and was found guilty. The high-profile case was reported in The New York Times in 1878: Shepherd was defended by Elihu Root. Mark Wells Johnson points out (That Body of Brave Men: The U. S. Regular Infantry and the Civil War in the West, p720): "In current legal practice a retired officer can be tried by court-martial for offenses that occurred while the officer was in the service. Since all of Shepherd's offenses took place subsequent to his retirement, it is questionable whether the War Department had jurisdiction in this case. Since the Army did not have a retirement system prior to the Civil War, the legal status of military retirees was still ambiguous territory in the 1870s. Looking at the case with twenty first-century hindsight, it would have been more appropriate for Shepherd to have been tried in a civil court."

Here are contemporaneous reports in The New York Times as the case progressed:

(February 28, 1878)

The Shephard Court-Martial.

Trial of Col. Oliver L. Shephard on charges of embezzlement — outline of the evidence.

The court-martial recently authorized by the War Department, at Washington, to investigate charges of embezzlement made against Col. Oliver L. Shephard, of Newport, R. I., held its second session yesterday at the Army Building, in Houston-street. There were present Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William F. Barry, Second Artillery; Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry J. Hunt, Fifth Artillery; Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Marcus D. L. Simpson, Lieut.‑Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Romeyn B. Ayres, Third Artillery; Lieut.‑Col. Elwell S. Otis, Twenty-second Infantry; Lieut.‑Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry M. Black, Eighteenth Infantry; Lieut.‑Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Chauncey McKeever, Major Gustavus A. DeRussy, Third Artillery; Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George P. Andrews, Fifth Artillery; Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Hamilton, First Artillery; Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Clermont L. Best, First Artillery; Major William H. Brown, Eighteenth Infantry; and also the Judge Advocate, Col. G. N. Leiber, and Col. O. L. Shephard and his counsel, Mr. Root.

The evidence which has been already taken in the case shows that while Col. Shepherd was in command of the Regular Brigade of the Army of the Cumberland in 1863 and 1864, a fund of about $2,000 was raised by the officers and soldiers of the brigade for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the battle of Stone River. This fund was intrusted to Col. Shephard, and nothing more was heard of it until a meeting of the officers of the Regular Brigade was held in this City in the latter part of 1875. At that meeting a committee was appointed, consisting of Col. S. B. Lawrence, Col. Gunther, and Capt. Kettletas, to communicate with Col. Shephard with the view of inducing him to make a final disposition of the fund which would meet the wishes of the subscribers. From that time up to January last negotiations were carried on between the Chairman of this committee, Col. S. B. Lawrence, of this City, and Col. Shephard, which resulted in an appeal to the military authorities at Washington on the part of the committee. Among the witnesses who have already given their testimony before the court are Col. Lawrence and Mr. Philip W. Crater, Assistant Cashier of the National Newark Banking Company, where Col. Shephard deposited the monument fund in 1864. The $2,000 was then invested in Government bonds, which were afterward given as collateral security to raise a loan. In May, 1871, these bonds were sold to pay off the loan, and since the demand was made on Col. Shephard to apply the monument fund to the purpose for which it was originally intended, he has been endeavoring to dispose of some real estate he owns in this City to raise the made. He never denied having received the $2,000, but when requested to hand it over to the committee appointed by the officers of the brigade he failed to do so, giving various excuses from time to time. Col. Shephard has not yet called any witnesses in his defense, the testimony for the prosecution not having yet closed.


(March 3, 1878)

The Shephard Court-Martial.

Close of the case for the prosecution — favorable testimony for the defense — an acquittal expected.

The court-martial appointed to inquire into the charges made against Col. Shephard in reference to the fund deposited with him in 1864 for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of the officers and soldiers who were killed at the battle of Stone River, resumed its session yesterday morning at the Army Building in Houston-street. Col. William F. Barry, Second Artillery, presided. There were also present: Col. Henry J. Hunt, Fifth Artillery; Col. Marcus D. L. Simpson, Lieut.‑Col. Romeyn B. Ayres, Third Artillery; Lieut.‑Col. Elwell S. Otis, Twenty-second Infantry; Lieut.‑Col Henry M. Black, Eighteenth Infantry; Lieut.‑Col. Chauncey McKeever, Major Gustavus A. DeRussy, Third Artillery; Major George P. Andrews, Fifth Artillery; Major John Hamilton, First Artillery; Major Clermont L. Best, First Artillery; Major William H. Brown, Eighteenth Infantry; and also the Judge Advocate, Col. G. N. Leiber, and Col. O. L. Shephard and his counsel, Mr. Root. Col. G. N. Leiber, the Judge-Advocate, by whom the witnesses against Col. Shephard were examined, having announced to the court that the case for the prosecution had closed, Mr. Root, counsel for the accused, called Mr. Homer Morgan, of No. 2 Pine-street, as a witness for the defense. From the nature of the testimony given by Mr. Morgan there seems to be little doubt that Col. Shepherd will be honorably acquitted of the charges preferred against him, although the case for the prosecution was so ably conducted by Col. Leiber that a decidedly unfavorable impression was created against Col. Shephard during the first sessions of the court. Every document bearing upon the question under consideration was methodically introduced and marked as an exhibit, and these, combined with the testimony of the witnesses examined by the Judge-Advocate appeared to make out a strong case against Col. Shephard. The testimony given by Mr. Morgan, however, has satisfactorily explained the position in which Col. Shephard has been placed during the past four or five years, and must restore him to the good opinion of his brother officers. Mr. Morgan is one of largest real estate brokers in the City, and has been engaged in the business for upward of 40 years. He has known Col. Shephard for many years and was solicited by him to undertake several real estate operations for him within the past two or three years, which covers the period during which the negotiations were carried on between himself and the committee in New-York appointed to look after the monument fund. It appears from the testimony of Mr. Morgan that Col. Shephard owned a very valuable piece of property at One Hundred and Forty-first-street, and other real estate property in One Hundred and Fifty-seventh-street. This property was valued at $80,000 in 1868, besides which he owned a house in East Fifty-Second-street. When Col. Shephard retired from the Army a few years ago he was worth over $120,000, and consequently believed that he could at any time realize without difficulty the amount of the monument fund, which was originally only $1,900, but which at present, with accrued interest, would be about $3,000. When he allowed the monument fund of $2,000, invested in Government bonds, to be appropriated for other than the purposes for which it was intended, he had not the remotest idea that he would have the least difficulty in raising the amount upon his property in New-York whenever he might be required to do so. But such has been the shrinkage in the value of real estate property within the past few years, and especially within the last six months, that, although he importuned Mr. Morgan to dispose of a portion of his property, it was impossible to do so. Col. Shephard urged upon him the necessity he was under of realizing $3,000 or $4,000 within the past two months, to meet pressing demands, but such was the condition of affairs at present in real estate business that Mr. Morgan could not effect a sale. He believed that Col. Shephard's property in this City was fairly and honestly worth $88,000 in 1869; at present it was not worth $25,000. During the past year, and especially during the last six months, he stated that property has been more depreciated than it has been for the last 40 years; he believes it is more depreciated than it was in 1837. Although there are large capitalists in the City, he said there was a general disinclination to part with money, or to make any investment in real estate; so that he experienced as much difficulty in effecting the sale of a house on the south side of Central Park as if it was 10 miles outside the City. Nobody, in fact, wanted to buy, and consequently those who desired to sell could find no purchaser, so great was the stagnation which prevailed. He made every effort to realize the amount required by Col. Shephard, but found it impossible to make a sale. Mr. Morgan's testimony produced the most favorable effect upon the members of the court, and his brother officers were glad to find an explanation of circumstances connected with the monument fund which appeared to cast grave suspicions upon his honor and integrity. It is expected that the trial will close to‑morrow.


(March 7, 1878)

The Shephard Court-Martial.

Closing arguments on both sides — probability that a decision will be reached to‑morrow.

The testimony in the Shephard court-martial, which has been in session at the Army Building, in Houston-street, during the past week, having closed on Tuesday, the court heard the arguments of Mr. Elihu Root for the defense yesterday, and of the Judge Advocate, Col. G. N. Leiber, for the prosecution. Mr. Root delivered an impressive address to the members of the court, in the course of which he reviewed the evidence of Mr. Homer Morgan and other real estate brokers who were examined as witnesses for the defense, with the view of establishing the innocence of Col. Shephard in respect to the charges made against him. He argued that the accused never had any intention of diverting the monument fund subscribed by the officers and soldiers of the Regular Brigade, Army of the Cumberland, from the purpose for which it was originally intended, namely, to erect a monument to the memory of those who fell at the battle of Stone River. He referred to Col. Shephard's real estate property in New-York, in coal lands in Pennsylvania, and other investments, amounting in the aggregate to at least ten times the amount of the monument fund, which was originally not more than $2,000, and contended that, under all the circumstances, no blame could be attached to him for appropriating the monument fund, believing, as he did, that he could at any time furnish the amount by effecting the sale of a portion of his property, but which, owing to the great depression which had recently prevailed in the real estate market, he was unable to do when pressed by the committee of officers who had taken the matter in charge. He argued that there was nothing reprehensible in Col. Shephard's action in relation to the fund, and that since he had never denied it, never refused to surrender it to those duly authorized to receive it, and was still ready and willing to hand it over as soon as he could realize the amount from his property, the court was bound to acquit him. Col. Leiber, as Judge Advocate, delivered a brief but forcible address in which he called the attention of the court to the nature of the evidence which had been introduced against Col. Shephard. He believed that the committee named in 1875, to look after the monument fund, was properly appointed and was duly authorized to receive the funds from Col. Shephard, and pointed out the inconsistency with which the accused had dealt with this committee from the commencement of their negotiations with him in 1875, at one time recognizing their authority to receive it and promising to hand it over and then denying their authority. He dwelt particularly upon the fact that it was 14 years since the fund intrusted to Col. Shephard was created for the sacred purpose of erecting a monument to the fallen heroes of the battle of Stone River, and he would ask what became of that fund, and upon whom should the blame rest for its misappropriation if not upon the accused. He also called the attention of the court to the sacredness with which such a fund should have been guarded, and impressed the fact upon them that money received in trust should under no circumstances be appropriated for any other purpose than that for which it was intended. The court will probably render a decision in the case to‑morrow, after which the evidence taken during the proceedings will be forwarded to the military authorities at Washington.


And finally, this brief squib of April 8, 1878 — in which the Times at last spells the man's last name right (but gets his middle initial wrong):

Court-Martial of Col. Shepherd.

Providence, R. I., April 7. — Col. O. S. Shepherd, of Newport, a retired officer of the United States Army, has been tried by court-martial for neglecting to pay over the fund contributed by his brother officers in 1864 for a monument on the Stone River Battle Ground, and President Hayes has approved the sentence, which is that Col. Shepherd be confined within the limits of the post at Fort Adams for one year, and thereafter until the money, $1,903, with interest from 1864, shall be paid. Col. Shepherd was put under arrest yesterday.

The sentence was about as light as it could be: only a year, free range of the entire post, and Fort Adams is in Newport, R. I., so he was near his home, his wife and his family.


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