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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1847

Vol. II

(Born N. Y.)

Romeyn B. Ayres

(Ap'd N. Y.)


Romeyn Beck Ayres: Born Dec. 20, 1825, East Creek, NY.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1843, to July 1, 1847, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Artillery, July 1, 1847.

Served: in the War with Mexico, 1847‑48, at Puebla and the City of

(Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, Sep. 22, 1847)

 p326  Mexico; in garrison at Ft. Preble, Me., 1848‑50, — Ft. Adams, R. I., 1850‑51, — Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1851‑52, — Ft. Independence, Mas.,

(First Lieut., 3d Artillery, Mar. 16, 1852)

1852‑53, — Ft. Adams, R. I., 1853, — Ft. Brown, Tex., 1853, — Ft. Wood, N. Y., 1854, — Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1854, — and Benicia, Cal., 1854‑55; and on frontier duty at Ft. Miller, Cal., 1855, — Ft. Snelling, Min., 1855‑57, — Expedition to the Yellow Medicine River, Min., 1857, — Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., 1857, — conducting Recruits to California, 1858, — Ft. Yuma, Cal., 1858‑59, — and Ft. Gaston, Cal., 1859; in garrison at San Francisco, Cal., 1859; on Recruiting service, 1859; and in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va. (Artillery School for Practice), 1859‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in

(Captain, 5th Artillery, May 14, 1861)

the Defenses of Washington, D. C., July 7‑16, 1861; in the Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, being engaged in the Action of Blackburn's Ford, July 18, 1861, — and Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., July 23 to Aug. 7, 1861; in Recruiting Company at Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 11 to Oct. 1, 1861; as Chief of Artillery of General W. F. Smith's Division, Oct. 1, 1861, to Nov., 1862, and of 6th Army Corps, Nov., 1862, to Apr. 4, 1863; in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., Oct. 1, 1861, to Mar. 15, 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar. to Aug., 1862, being engaged in the Siege of Yorktown, Apr. 5 to May 4, 1862, — including the Skirmish on Warwick Creek, Apr. 5, 1862, and Action of Lee's Mills, Apr. 16, 1862, — Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862, — Action at New Bridge, May 23, 1862, — Action at Garnett's Farm, May 26, 1862, — Battle of Gaines's Mill, June 27, 1862, — Action at Golding's Farm, June 28, 1862, — Battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862, — and Skirmish at Harrison's Landing, July 2, 1862; in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Sep. to Oct., 1862, being engaged at the Battle of Crampton's Gap, South Mountain, Sep. 14, 1862, — and Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862; on sick leave of absence, Oct. 15 to Dec. 1, 1862;

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Nov. 29, 1862)

in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, as Chief of Artillery of 6th Army Corps; on sick leave of absence, Jan. 27 to Apr. 4, 1863; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), being engaged in the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2‑4, 1863, in command of Brigade, 5th Army Corps; in the Pennsylvania Campaign, in command of Division 5th Corps (Army of the Potomac), June to July, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2‑3, 1863, — and Pursuit of the enemy to Warrenton, Va.

(Bvt. Major, July 2, 1863,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)

July, 1863; in command of Division, Aug. 14 to Sep., 1863, at New York city during draft; in the Rapidan Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Nov. to Dec., 1863, being engaged in the Combat at Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7, 1863, — and Mine Run Operations, Nov. 26 to Dec. 3, 1863; in guarding the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Jan. to May, 1864; in the Richmond Campaign (Army of the Potomac), May, 1864, to Apr., 1865, being engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness,

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., May 5, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Battle of the Wilderness, Va.)

May 5‑6, 1864, — Battle of Laurel Hill, May 8, 1864, — Battles around Spottsylvania, May 10‑12, 1864, — Battle of Jericho Ford, May 21, 1864, — Battle of Tolopotomy, May 29, 1864, — Battle of Bethesda Church,  p327 May 30, 1864, — Assault of Petersburg, June 18, 1864, — Siege of Petersburg, June 18 to Aug. 15, 1864, in which he was wounded, June 20, 1864,

(Bvt. Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Aug. 1, 1864, for Conspicuous Gallantry in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, Jericho Mills, Bethesda Church, Petersburg, and Globe Tavern, and for Faithful Services in the Campaign)

— Battles of the Weldon Railroad, Aug. 18‑21, 1864, — Combat of

(Bvt. Colonel, U. S. Army, Aug. 18, 1864,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle on the Weldon Railroad, Va.)

Chapel House, Oct. 1, 1864, — Action of Rowanty Creek, Oct. 27, 1864, — Destruction of Weldon Railroad, Dec., 1864, — Battle of Dabney's Mill, Feb. 5, 1865, — Reconnoissance of White Oak Road, Mar. 31, 1865, — Battle of Five Forks, Apr. 1, 1865, — Pursuit of the Rebel Army of

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Battle of Five Forks, Va.)

(Bvt. Major-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion)

North Virginia under General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lee, terminating in its surrender at Appomattox C. H., Apr. 9, 1865, — and return to the Potomac, Apr. 11 to May 12, 1865; and in command of 3d Division Provisional Corps, June 28, 1865, — and of District of the Shenandoah, Aug. 23, 1865, to Apr. 30, 1866.

Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Apr. 30, 1866.

Served: as Member of Tactics Board, June 25, 1866, to Feb. 4, 1867;

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 28th Infantry, July 28, 1866)

in awaiting orders, Feb. 4 to Dec. 31, 1867; on frontier duty at Little Rock, Ark., Dec. 31, 1867, to Sep., 1868; as Acting Assistant Inspector-General of the Department of Louisiana, Sep. 13, 1868, to Jan. 7, 1870;

(Transferred to 19th Infantry, Mar. 15, 1869)

on frontier duty at Little Rock, Ark., to May, 1870; in garrison at Jackson Barracks, La. to June 21, 1870; on leave of absence, June to Sep., 1870; in garrison at Baton Rouge, La., Ship Island, Mis., and Jackson

(Transferred to 3d Artillery, Dec. 15, 1870)

Barracks, La., to Jan., 1871, — at Key West, Fla., Jan. 28 to May, 1871, — at Ft. Jefferson, Fla., May 24 to Oct. 3, 1871, — at Key West, Fla., Oct. 4, 1871, to Nov., 1872, — at Madison Barracks, N. Y., Dec. 9, 1872, to Feb. 5, 1877, — and at Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., Feb. 8 to July 22, 1877; in command of battalion of troops at Baltimore, Md., and Mauch Chunk, Pa., for suppressing Railroad Disturbances, July 22 to Oct. 24, 1877; in command of regiment and post of Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., Oct. 24, 1877, to Aug. 7, 1879, — of Ft. McHenry, Md., Aug. 21, 1879, to Jan. 28, 1881,

(Colonel, 2d Artillery, July 15, 1879)

— of Washington Barracks, D. C. (Member of Court of Inquiry concerning the Greely Relief Expedition, Nov. 18, 1883, to Apr. 15, 1884), to June 2, 1885, — and of post of St. Francis Barracks, Fla., to June 9, 1886; on sick leave of absence, to Oct. 1, 1886; in command of regiment and post of St. Francis Barracks, Fla., to May 6, 1887; on sick leave of absence, to Oct. 22, 1877; in command of regiment and post of St. Francis Barracks, Fla. to Dec. 28, 1887; and sick to Dec. 4, 1888.

Died, Dec. 4, 1888, at Ft. Hamilton, N. Y.: Aged 63.

Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.​a

Biographical Sketch.

Bvt. Major-General Romeyn B. Ayres was born, Dec. 20, 1825, at  p328 East Creek, Montgomery County, N. Y. After receiving a good classical education he entered the Military Academy, from which he was graduated, July 1, 1847, and promoted to the Artillery. He was at once ordered to Mexico, but was too late to take any part in the war, except as one of the garrison at Puebla and of the Capital. Upon his return to the United States he was engaged in the ordinary duties of his arm of service till the outbreak of the Rebellion, in which he took a conspicuous part.

As a Captain of Artillery he was engaged in all the operations of the Bull Run, Virginia Peninsular, and Maryland Campaigns, as shown in his foregoing Military History. For his soldierly conduct in these campaigns he was appointed, Nov. 29, 1862, a Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers. As Chief of Artillery of the 6th Army Corps, he was engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg; in command of a Brigade of the 5th Corps, fought at Chancellorsville; and at the head of a Division of the same Corps, won his brevet of Major at Gettysburg. After the pursuit to Warrenton, Va., Ayres's Division was ordered to New York city to aid in suppressing the draft riots, after which he rejoined the Army of the Potomac in time to take part in the Combat at Rappahannock Station and the Mine Run Operations. In the final or Richmond Campaign, Ayres took a prominent part in most of the battles, from the Wilderness to the surrender of the Rebel Army at Appomattox Court House, after which he had command of the 3d Division Provisional Corps, and of the District of the Shenandoah till the Rebellion collapsed. For his gallant and meritorious services in the Civil War he received no less than six brevets, the last being of Major-General in both the Regular Army and the Volunteers. His after services, till his untimely death, are given in sufficient detail in his synoptical history.

For a summary of his characteristics I am indebted to his classmate, Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Hamilton, which here follows: —

"Ayres, as a youth, came to West Point at the age of seventeen from Amsterdam, N. Y. His father was a highly respected physician of that place, and bred up a large family of success­ful sons, in the professions and in commercial life. Ayres was his class's authority in Latin. He always stood respectably in his studies, but never was a book man. He satisfied himself in after life in keeping au courant with the affairs of the day. He was a very close observer of his fellow-man, careful of his person, and not a little vain of a fine soldierly bearing, — fully six feet, and every inch a soldier. There was nothing of the martinet or petit-maître about him; on the contrary, he only affected the characteristics of true manhood. In the field his style was that of the brilliant executor, rather than of the plotting strategist. He had withal a remarkable eye to at once take in the situation on the field, and was the quickest of tacticians.

"As a Cadet he was poor in debate; any of us could confound him in chopping logic, but he always 'got there, just the same,' by some aphorism or some mot, which mostly conquered. These were not borrowed, hackneyed proverbs, but original apothegms, pungent, pithy, which brought a convincing picture to the solution of the case. More of such are remembered by his intimates of him than probably of any other man. He loved to cut the Gordian knot of sophistry.

"So in the treatment of the 'old sodjer,' one never got the better of him. 'Captain, it is my first offense since I joined the company; if you let me off this time, I can promise you it will never happen again.' Nobody could think, by his manner, but that Ayres believed it all; but the answer came: 'Yes, I never overlook a first offense; with your good intentions for future, a slight punishment will only fortify your good resolutions.'

"On a march in Texas, during a few days' rest he happened to pitch his camp near the permanent command of an officer who ranked him.  p329 This officer was a strict constructionist of 'Army Regulations,' and had his reveille 'at daybreak.' Ayres had ever liked his morning nap; and his senior, very unnecessarily, considering the transientness of the junction, assumed command over Ayres, and ordered him to comply with the 'Regulations.'

"After the interview Ayres retired to his camp and issued the following order, sending his senior a copy:—

" 'Headquarters Co. —, 3d Artillery,
Camp –––––, –––––, 185–.

" 'Company Orders. Until further orders, daylight in this camp will be at six o'clock.

" 'R. B. Ayres,
1st Lieut., 3d Artillery,
Commanding Co. —.'

"During the Rebellion, a colonel of his brigade showed a timidity before the enemy too observable to the command to be over­looked by the brigadier. What passed at the subsequent interview nobody will ever know, but the next day the colonel was found in the hottest part of the action. Soon an officer of his regiment reported to Ayres, 'General, poor Colonel ––––– is killed.' 'Thank God!' says Ayres, 'his children can now be proud of him.'

"Ayres was a very social man, in the best sense of that word; considerate of his fellow-man, and full of fun without ever sacrificing his dignity to indulge it."

Thayer's Note:

a A fair amount of additional information, mostly genealogical, with an eyewitness account of his wedding to his second wife, and another of his funeral, are provided at Michael Robert Patterson's site.

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Page updated: 24 Jan 15