Crawford, Jr., Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892

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Crawford was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1846 and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1850. He joined the U.S. Army as an assistant surgeon in 1851 and served in that capacity for ten years.

Crawford was the surgeon on duty at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, during the Confederate bombardment in 1861, which represented the start of the Civil War. Despite his purely medical background, he was in command of several of the artillery pieces returning fire from the fort.

A month after Fort Sumter, Crawford decided on a fundamental career change and accepted a commission as a major in the 13th U.S. Infantry. He served as Assistant Inspector General of the Department of the Ohio starting in September 1861. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on April 25, 1862, and led a brigade in the Department of the Shenandoah under Major General Nathaniel Banks. The brigade participated in the Valley Campaign but saw no actual combat. Its first taste of battle was during the Northern Virginia Campaign, when it was assigned to the Army of Virginia under Maj. Gen. John Pope. At the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Crawford's brigade launched a surprise attack upon the Confederate left, routing a division that included the Stonewall Brigade. The Confederates counterattacked, however, and Crawford's brigade, which was unsupported by other units, was driven back with 50% casualties.

At the Battle of Antietam, Crawford temporarily commanded his division when Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams was elevated to command the XII Corps. Crawford's temporary command was short, however, when he was wounded in the right thigh. He stayed on the field until he became weak from loss of blood and had to be carried off. The wound took eight months to heal properly and he was unable to return to the field until May 1863, when he was given command of the Pennsylvania Reserves Division in the defenses of Washington, D.C. In commanding this division, Crawford was following in the footsteps of two Union Army luminaries: John F. Reynolds and George G. Meade.

In June 1863, the Pennsylvania Reserves Division was added to the Army of the Potomac for the Gettysburg Campaign. Crawford was in a difficult situation. His training was as a surgeon, not as an infantry officer, and although he had experience at the brigade level, his eight-month recuperation meant that his skills were at minimal levels at the start of a critical campaign. Furthermore, the troops of his division had just spent six months on easy garrison duty around Washington and were not fully combat ready. On July 2, 1863, Crawford and his division arrived at Gettysburg in the rear of the V Corps, led by Maj. Gen. George Sykes. He was ordered to the front to assist the brigade of Col. Strong Vincent on Little Round Top, but the battle had already petered out by the time his division arrived.

Meanwhile, the Confederate troops of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's Corps had swept through the Devil's Den, driving the Union defenders back to Plum Run, a stream just to the west of Little Round Top, and an area that became known to the soldiers as "the Valley of Death". Crawford's division swept down the slope of Little Round Top along with the brigades of Colonels William McCandless and David J. Nevin. McCandless's brigade led the charge, but Crawford apparently desired some of the glory and seized his own division's colors from a surprised sergeant to lead them in the charge, too. The charge was successful, meeting little resistance, and the Confederates were driven from the Valley of Death.

Although this was a relatively minor engagement and casualties were light, Crawford spent the remainder of his life basking in the glory of Little Round Top. After the war, Crawford was prominent in preserving the Gettysburg Battlefield and at one point attempted to raise money to cover the hill with a large memorial building and museum dedicated to his division. (This plan was a failure, and Little Round Top remains close to its original condition, although sprinkled with smaller monuments.) Crawford also spent considerable effort politicking to get the official records of the war to acknowledge his role as the savior of Little Round Top. He even offered former Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws a "grade in the army" if he would write a letter stating that Crawford and his men drove McLaws troops back, but McLaws refused.

Crawford remained in command of the Pennsylvania Reserve Division in the V Corps for the rest of the war. In the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign he also commanded a garrison in the siege that consisted of his first two brigades, a division from the IX Corps, and a few other regiments and artillery units; his third brigade was temporarily assigned to another V Corps division. On December 12, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Crawford for appointment to the brevet grade of major general, to rank from August 1, 1864, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on February 14, 1865. On August 18, he was wounded at the chest in the action at the Weldon Railroad. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in the regular army for the Battle of Five Forks and to major general on March 13, 1865. At Five Forks, his division drifted away through heavy woods from the main attack on the Confederate left. Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, commander of V Corps, personally rode off to retrieve Crawford's division. His absence during the attack was one of the reasons cited by Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan to relieve Warren. Although Crawford was the senior general in the corps, Sheridan named a more junior officer (Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin) to replace Warren.

Crawford was present for Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865, making him one of the few soldiers to be present at both the beginning and the effective end of the Civil War.

Crawford retired from the Army on February 19, 1873, and was given the rank of brigadier general, U.S. Army Retired. He authored the book The Genesis of the Civil War, published in 1887. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was interred in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

In 1988, a statue of Crawford was dedicated at Gettysburg depicting him clutching a bullet-riddled American flag.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892. [Notes] 1863 Jul. 1-3, at the battlefield Gettysbg / S. W. Crawford. Smith College, Neilson Library
creatorOf Belmont, August, 1813-1890. August Belmont papers, 1853-1887. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Papers of Robert Anderson, 1819-1948 (bulk 1836-1870). Library of Congress
referencedIn Benson John Lossing Collection University of Virginia. Library. Special Collections Dept.
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
referencedIn Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964. Anson Conger Goodyear collection, 1813-1890 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Alston, William Algernon, 1830-1867. Letter, 1861 Mar. 15, Charleston [S.C., to] Samuel Wylie Crawford. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
creatorOf Allen, Mary Rivers. Collection of letters and autographs, 1846-1881 Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Autograph File, C, 1554-2002. Houghton Library
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Papers, 1861-1870. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Commissioners of the Confederate States of America to the Government of the United States. Letter book, 1861 Feb. 27-Apr. 11. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Samuel Wylie Crawford papers, 1860-1886. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
referencedIn Robert Anderson Papers, 1819-1948, (bulk 1836-1870) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892. Samuel Wylie Crawford papers, 1860-1892. Library of Congress
referencedIn Anson Conger Goodyear Collection, 1813-1890 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Gardner Rand, Troy, N.Y., 1874 Jan. 8. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Cockrell, Francis Marion, 1834-1915. Military officer correspondence, 1848-1904. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Records of the Adjutant General's Office. 1762 - 1984. Generals' Papers and Books. 1830 - 1884. Papers and Books of Samuel Wylie Crawford National Archives at Washington, D.C
referencedIn August Belmont papers, 1853-1887 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Papers, 1883. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Gardner Rand, Troy, N.Y., 1874 Jan. 8. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Babb, James Elisha, 1864-1934. James E. Babb Memorial collection, 1860-1942 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Samuel Wylie Crawford Papers, 1860-1892 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
referencedIn Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. Letter : Washington, D.C, to Colonel S. W. Crawford, Washington, D.C., 1872 Jan. 25. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Alfred and Elizabeth Brand Collection of Civil War and Lee Family Papers, 1757-1925, (bulk 1838-1868) David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Massachusetts Civil War collection, 1724-1933 (inclusive);, 1861-1912 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891. Papers of Benson John Lossing [manuscript], 1852-1892. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Crawford, Samuel W. -- Brigadier General National Archives at Washington, D.C
referencedIn Dawson, Henry B. (Henry Barton), 1821-1889. Letter, [188u?] Feb. 24 (Morrisonia, N.Y.) to Gen. [Samuel Wylie] Crawford. University of South Carolina, System Library Service, University Libraries
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1829-1892. Papers [microform]. University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
creatorOf Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892. S. W. Crawford letter to Justice Blatchford, 1887 July 2. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn Walker, Leroy Pope, 1817-1884. Leroy Pope Walker correspondence, 1883 January 17. Library of Congress
referencedIn Photographic Portrait File The Huntington Library
referencedIn James E. Babb Memorial collection, 1860-1942 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Colonel S.W. Crawford, Washington, D.C., 1872 Jan. 25. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Consolidated Military Officer's File of General Samuel W. Crawford National Archives at Washington, D.C
referencedIn Philip Case Lockwood memorial collection of Civil War portraits and autographs, 1862-ca. 1886. Houghton Library
creatorOf Alabama. Governor (1868-1870 : Smith). Administrative files, 1867-1884. Alabama Department of Archives and History
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Coolidge" to "Curtis". Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
Role Title Holding Repository
contributorOf 1864 - Crawford, S W - File No. A894 National Archives at Washington, D.C
contributorOf Crawford, S W - State: [Blank] - Year: 1860 - File Number: C235 National Archives at Washington, D.C
contributorOf Crawford, F W - State: Alabama - Year: 1870 National Archives at Washington, D.C
contributorOf 1868 - Crawford, L W - File No. C716 National Archives at Washington, D.C
contributorOf 1865 - Crawford, L W - File No. C1190 National Archives at Washington, D.C
Relation Name
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correspondedWith Beauregard, G. T. (Gustave Toutant), 1818-1893 person
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associatedWith Blatchford, Samuel, 1820-1893. person
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correspondedWith Capers, Ellison, 1837-1908 person
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correspondedWith Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889 person
correspondedWith Dawson, Henry B. (Henry Barton), 1821-1889. person
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correspondedWith Floyd, John B. (John Buchanan), 1806-1863 person
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correspondedWith Gregg, Maxcy, 1814-1862 person
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correspondedWith Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870 person
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correspondedWith Pemberton, John C. (John Clifford), 1814-1881 person
correspondedWith Pickens, F. W. (Francis Wilkinson), 1805-1869 person
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memberOf United States. Army corporateBody
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correspondedWith Walker, Leroy Pope, 1817-1884. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Philadelphia PA US
Franklin County PA US
Dinwiddie County VA US
Petersburg VA US
Fort Sumter (historical) SC US
Washington City DC US
Antietam MD US
Appomattox VA US
New Philadelphia PA US
Gettysburg PA US
Culpeper County VA US
Subject
Surgeons
Veterans
Weldon Railroad, Battle of, Va., 1864
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862
Cedar Mountain (Culpepper County, Va.), Battle of, 1862
Civil War, 1861-1865
Five Forks, Battle of, Va., 1865
Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.)
Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863
Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863
Military supplies
Petersburg, Siege of, 1864-1865
Reconstruction
Riots
Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1862
Occupation
Soldiers
Army officers
Authors
Physicians
Activity

Person

Birth 1827-11-08

Death 1892-11-03

Male

Americans

English

Information

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