But I don't recall ever hearing a story of a Canadian that went south and did all three. Today's blog is about such a man.
Stranger yet, a 1910 census indicated that he emigrated to the United States in 1837. Strange as that was the year he was born.
The history books are very vague and so far we know not where in Canada John C. Gilmore came from, but info tells us he was born on 18 April 1837, and as stated above apparently moved to the US that same year. Probably not on his own. He probably lived at Louisville NY in 1861.
John was attending law school at the St Lawrence Academy in Potsdam New York when President Abe Lincoln put out the call in 1861 for 75,000 men to enlist. John would be assigned to the 16th New York Volunteer Infantry on 7 May 1861. His term would be for 2 years. (A little shy of the 50 he would go on to stay with the services.) Just 2 days earlier James also signed up. And James was also from Canada and would go on to earn a Medal of Honor in this same regiment. But he was much older than John when he left Canada. He was 5 years old. But a little more on him later today, and much more in a later blog on Allen.
John not only signed up, he and another law student from the Academy actually raised the company that came from Potsdam. He was so popular that he was elected to its position of Captain, and thus the officer that was to command the company, one of many in the 16th NY. His commissioned would be dated for early July of 61 but back dated to 7 May. He was 24 years old at the time.
In early May Gilmore would find himself in command on not one but three companies doing battle at West Point Virginia when several others were badly wounded, killed or had gone missing. The enemy were later reported to have slit the throats of many Union soldiers, used some for apparent bayonet practice, and stripped other bodies for any thing of value...including their very clothing. After the battle a Brig. General would write his superiors and note that... "Captain Gilmore, who commanded the three companies of the 16th New York engaged, has received the commendation of his superior officer for the skill and gallantry displayed during the action."
His regiment moved on to Richmond on 25 June and on the 27th Gilmore would be wounded, probably slightly, at Gains Mills where his company helped to secure two field guns the Union lost earlier to the enemy. Here his regiment lost 3 officers and 55 men to either being killed or mortally wounded,.. including their regimental commander. Another 7 officers and 166 men were wounded in that fight. The unit went into battle with very high morale and the soldiers worn into battle a special straw hat made by a friend of the regiment.
The regiment then moved on to Malvern Hill, and the Maryland campaign, and then fought at Crampton's Gap where fellow Canadian James Allen would earn his Medal of Honor with a stunning ruse that saw him capture an enemy flag, weapons and about 16 Southern troops who he had to surrender over to his company commander. And that was none other then Captain Gilmore, but more on this in another blog.
A few days later in September of 1862 Captain Gilmore would perform heroically at Antietam. In December he would receive a brevet promotion to major for his gallant and meritorious service here, and this would be backdated to September. Then came Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg. Performance here would also result in a brevet promotion... to the rank of Lt Colonel, but again that came later. With the promotion to Major, he would be taken out of his company and assigned duties at the regimental level.
In late April of 1863 Gilmore's regiment would be fighting at Chancellorsville and days later would be in the thick of battle at Salem Heights, part of the overall Chancellorsville campaign. Gilmore should not have even been in battle at the time. In fact, neither should any of the officers or men. Their two year term of service enlistments was up, and no more was required of them. They could have done what so many others had done, simply walked off the field and went home. But Gilmore and all the rest of the officers took up a vote and decided man for man that they would stay and continue to serve their country. And then the men took the same vote, and they did likewise.
At Salem Heights the regiment was in the front line of battle and came under most intense firing. In short order the unit had lost to death or bad wounds 6 officers and over 90 soldiers. It was here that Captain Gilmore had grabbed the units colours and raced across the front lines under direct fire and rallied the men to move forward, and it was for this very action that some 30 years later Gilmore was recommended for, and later received the Medal of Honor.
Just a few days later the unit would muster out of service at Albany NY, and Gilmore would do the same effective 22 May 1863. It would not be long before Major Gilmore was again being promoted by brevet to that of a Lt Colonel and given command of the 193rd Regiment, NY Infantry. This was a one year term and when it finished he joined the regular US Army where he would serve for the next 40 years.
He would also do some time as the Assistant Adjutant General of the US Army, and in October of 1892 the War Office sent him a letter advising that the President had awarded him the Medal of Honor, when, as a Major, and at Salem Heights Virginia, his distinguished conduct back in 1863 was then being recognized with the medal.
Just prior to the start of the Spanish American War the president would write him advising that he had yet again been promoted by brevet to the rank of Brig. General as pictured above on right, and was being placed on the direct staff of Lt General Miles in Cuba. He would follow Miles with further service as Chief of staff in Puerto Rico.
In 1910 General Gilmore finally took of his uniform and retired and received a wonderful scroll advising that he would maintain his rank and be on the retired list... and no doubt subject to further recall if needed. (Hope he left his phone of the hook!)
Canadian born General John C Gilmore came into this world on 18 April 1837. That was 181 years ago last Thursday. He passed away in December of 1922 and lies at rest with several family members at Arlington and so close to so many that he served with over a half century.