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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1830

Vol. I

(Born Md.)

Robert C. Buchanan

(Ap'd D. C.)


Robert Christie Buchanan: Born Mar. 1, 1811, Baltimore, MD.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1826, to July 1, 1830, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 1, 1830.

Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, July 1, 1830.

Served: in garrison at Baton Rouge, La., 1831‑32, — Ft. Crawford, Wis., 1832, — in the "Black Hawk" War, 1832, being in command of the gunboats on the Wisconsin River during the Battle of Bad Axe River, Aug. 2, 1832, — Ft. Armstrong, Ill., 1832, — and Baton Rouge, La., 1832‑33; on Recruiting service, 1833; in garrison at Baton Rouge, La., 1833‑34, — and New Orleans, La., 1834‑35; as Adjutant 4th Infantry, at Regimental headquarters, Feb. 4, 1835 to Nov. 30, 1838; in the Florida War against the Seminole Indians, 1836, 1837‑38,​c being engaged

(First Lieut., 4th Infantry, Mar. 16, 1836)

on Staff duty, in the Skirmishes at Camp Izard, Feb. 27, 28, 29, and March 5, 1836, — Combat of Oloklikaha, Mar. 31, 1836, — and Battle of Okee-cho-bee, Dec. 25, 1837; in the Cherokee Nation, 1838, while transferring the Indians to the West; on Commissary duty, at Louisville,

(Captain, 4th infantry, Nov. 1, 1838)

Ky., 1838‑39; on frontier duty at Ft. Gibson, I. T., 1839‑40, — opening Military Road to Ft. Smith, Ark., 1840‑41; in the Florida War against the Seminole Indians, 1841‑42; on frontier duty at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1842‑44, — and Camp Salubrity, at Natchitoches,º La., 1844‑45; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑48, being engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May 8, 1846, — Battle of Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, May 9, 1846, — Battle of Monterey,

(Bvt. Major, May 9, 1846, for Gallant and Distinguished Services in the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, Tex.)

 p463  Sep. 21‑23, 1846, — in command of Battalion of Maryland Volunteers, Nov. 25, 1846, to May 30, 1847, — Skirmishes of Paso de Ovejas, June 20,

(Lieut.-Colonel, Battalion of Maryland Volunteers, Nov. 25, 1846)

near Plan-del‑Rio, June 22, and near El Pinal, July 5, 1847, — Capture of San Antonio, Aug. 20, 1847, — Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, — Battle of Molino del Rey, Sep. 8, 1847, — Battle of Chapultepec, Sep. 13, 1847, — Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico, Sep. 13‑14,

(Bvt. Lieut.-Col., Sep. 8, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Molino del Rey, Mex.)

1847, — and as Acting Inspector-General, Jan. 27 to Oct. 24, 1848; on frontier duty at Ft. Niagara, N. Y., 1849‑50; on Recruiting service, 1850‑52; on frontier duty at Benicia, Cal., 1852‑53, — Ft. Humboldt, Cal., 1853‑56, — in command of the District of Southern Oregon and

(Major, 4th Infantry, Feb. 3, 1855)

Northern California, Mar. 7 to July 13, 1856, being engaged against the Rogue River Indians, Mar. 16 to July 10, 1856, when hostilities terminated by the removal of the Tribes; on recruiting service, 1857; as Superintendent of Western Recruiting Service at Newport, Ky., July 1, 1857, to July 1, 1859; on Court-martial duty, 1859‑60; on detached service at Washington, D. C., 1860‑61; and on frontier duty at Ft. Dalles, Or., 1861, — and at Los Angeles, Cal., 1861.

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

(Lieut.-Colonel 4th Infantry, Sep. 9, 1861)

defenses of Washington, D. C., Nov. 27, 1861, to Mar. 10, 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar.‑July, 1862, in command of 4th Infantry, to May 24, 1862, and subsequently of a brigade of Regular Infantry, being engaged in the Siege of Yorktown, Apr. 5-May 4, 1862, — Battle of Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862, — Battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862, — and Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862; in

(Bvt. Colonel, June 27, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, Va.)

Northern Virginia Campaign, Aug.‑Sep., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of Manassas, Aug. 30, 1862; in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Sep.‑Nov., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, — Skirmish at Potomac Run, Sep. 18, 1862, — and march to Falmouth, Va., Oct.‑Nov., 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Nov. 29, 1862, to Mar. 4, 1863)

(Army of the Potomac), Dec. 1862, to Jan. 27, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862; in command of Ft. Delaware, Mar. 16 to Apr. 14, 1863; as Asst. Provost Marshal General, Chief Mustering and Disbursing Officer, and Superintendent of Volunteer Recruiting Service, for New Jersey, Apr. 29 to Nov. 6, 1864; in command

(Colonel, 1st Infantry, Feb. 8, 1864)

of 1st Infantry, at New Orleans, La., Dec. 6, 1864, to Aug. 27, 1864; on sick leave of absence, Aug. 26 to Dec. 1, 1865; and as Member of

(Bvt. Brig.‑General U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Malvern Hill)

Military Commission at Washington, D. C., Dec. 1, 1865, to Jan. 26,

(Bvt. Major-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Distinguished Services at the Battles of Manassas and Fredericksburg, Va.)

1866, to investigate the complaints of Prussia against enlistments in Massachusetts in 1863, — of Board for the Examination of Breech-loading  p464 Arms, Mar. 10 to Aug. 1, 1866; in waiting orders, Aug. 1, 1866, to Jan. 30, 1867.

Served: as Member of Commission on Claims of the State of Iowa, Jan. 30, 1867 to Jan., 1868; as Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Jan. 2, 1868, to Jan. 8, 1869; and in command of District of Louisiana, Jan. 2, 1868, to Jan. 8, 1869, — of Department of Louisiana, Jan. 8 to Mar. 31, 1869, — and of his regiment, Apr., 1869, to Dec. 15, 1870, at Ft. Wayne, Mich., to June 16, 1870, and Ft. Porter, N. Y., to Dec. 15, 1870.

Retired from Active Service, Dec. 31, 1870,
on his own application, after 30 Years of continuous Service.

Died, Nov. 29, 1878, at Washington, D. C.: Aged 67.

Buried, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Biographical Sketch.​a

Bvt. Major-General Robert C. Buchanan, was born, 1811, in Baltimore, Md. He was graduated from the Military Academy, July 1, 1830, and promoted to the Infantry, in which arm of service he passed through every grade; was, for several years, Adjutant of his Regiment; became a Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers; and for over a third of a century was actively engaged in every duty of his profession, as detailed in his foregoing Military History.

In Indian Wars he took part, during the Black Hawk hostilities of 1832, commanding the gunboats on the Wisconsin River, — in Florida, 1836‑38, was engaged in the Battle of Okee-cho-bee and several minor actions against the Seminoles, — and, 1856, was scouting against the Rogue River savages; in the Mexican War, 1846‑48, he participated in nearly every battle from Palo Alto to the Capture of the Capital; and during the Rebellion, 1861‑65, was engaged in the various contests of the Peninsula, Northern Virginia, and Rappahannock campaigns. In these wars, for his gallant and meritorious services, he received no less than five brevets from Major to Major-General.

After the termination of the Civil War, he held a most important command in Louisiana in very troublous times of the reconstruction period, when it required the utmost discretion to avoid bloodshed and preserve the peace.​b Of these trying services, his Asst. Adjutant-General, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Neill, says: "Buchanan's course was strongly characterized by wisdom, firmness, and moderation under the most trying and difficult circumstances in which a Department Commander has ever been placed since the war.

"On the meeting of the Legislature, anticipating trouble and bloodshed, by his strong and manly and prompt action I believe he saved the city of New Orleans from a massacre.

"I do not know any officer of the army whose personal and official integrity, whose impartial discharge of the very delicate and highly responsible duties of his post, stands higher than that of Robert C. Buchanan. He was the very soul of honor, and one of the first soldiers under whom I served.

"I cannot find words to express my admiration of Buchanan, on account of the remarkable coolness, good sense, and sound judgment which he always displayed under the most exciting scenes, when grave issues were at stake.

"Our country has never given him the credit which he deserves for the great success which he achieved in the prevention of bloodshed and preserving the peace while the city of New Orleans was seething with disloyalty, riot, and threatened bloodshed."

General Buchanan was one of the most prominent Infantry officers of  p465 the Army, in which he performed long, faithful, and honorable service. Though a rigid disciplinarian, he was always kind and considerate to subordinates; just and incorruptible in all his dealings; dignified and courtly in his demeanor; gallant and chivalrous on the battlefield; and ever a worthy and noble exemplar to his profession.

Thayer's Notes:

a This biographical sketch is an abridgment of the obituary in the 1879 report of the Association of Graduates.

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b Gen. Neill's assessment that follows is largely shared by John Kendall in his History of New Orleans, pp323‑330, passim. The reason for it — it's not that common to call for the commendation of a subordinate — is made clear in the AOG obituary (see my previous note).

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c Lt. Buchanan kept a journal during the Seminole War; it has been published, taking up 19 printed pages in The Florida Historical Quarterly, 29:132‑151. (The material as edited is still under copyright: the link is to the limited-access JSTOR transcription.)

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