Forsyth, James W. (James William), 1836-1906

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James William Forsyth was a United States Major General. Early in his career, Forsyth served in the 9th US Infantry, spending time in Washington Territory at Fort Bellingham and on the San Juan Islands at Camp Pickett. As a lieutenant, Forsyth served in the 9th US Infantry, spending time in Washington Territory at Fort Bellingham and on the San Juan Islands at Camp Pickett. As a lieutenant, Forsyth served in the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac and Major General Philip H. Sheridan. Forsyth remained Chief of Staff for Sheridan after the war, engaging in military campaigns against Comanche, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Kiowa Indians. He later spent time inspecting and monitoring relations with various Indian agencies. This work led to his role as commander in the battle at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890, involving a Sioux community near Pine Ridge agency in South Dakota. In 1897, as Commander of California, Forsyth was promoted to Major General and retired to his birthplace of Ohio.

From the description of James W. Forsyth family papers, 1803-2004 (bulk 1850-1896) (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 505881107

James William Forsyth (1836-1906), United States army officer.

From the description of James W. Forsyth papers, 1865-1932 (inclusive), (bulk 1870-1898). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702132913

James William Forsyth, born in Ohio, attended West Point from 1851-56 and received a commission as second lieutenant in the 9th U.S. Infantry. After serving in Washington Territory at Fort Bellingham and Camp Pickett, Suan Juan Island, Forsyth was promoted to first lieutenant in 1861 and returned to the East to command Union forces in the Civil War. From 1862-63 he served with the Army of the Potomac and in 1864 became Chief of Staff for Major General Philip H. Sheridan.

Forsyth continued on Sheridan's staff after the war and served as acting inspector general in the Military Division of the Gulf. Forsyth moved with Sheridan when the latter became commander of the Department of the Missouri in 1866. Forsyth served first as the department's secretary and then as an inspector, with an appointment in the cavalry. He took part in military campaigns against the Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa Indians in 1868-69. Forsyth went to Europe in 1870 as an official observer of the Franco-Prussian War.

During the late 1870s Forsyth spent much of his time inspecting Indian agencies and reporting on the relations with Indians on and off reservations in the military department of the Missouri, roughly Montana and the Dakotas. Forsyth commanded cavalry units in the 1878 Bannock campaign, and in succeeding years, spent most of his time inspecting cavalry units throughout the West.

In 1885 Forsyth was in command of Fort Maginnis, Montana, where the army was monitoring the Crow, Cree, and the Gros Ventres (Atsina) Indians. He was promoted to colonel in 1886 and placed in command of the 7th Cavalry stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. In December 1890, Forsyth led his troops to the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota. Sioux Indians had left the agency and many were involved in the Ghost Dance religion. On December 29, in the midst of mounting tension, Forsyth's attempt to disarm the Indians turned into a fight, later known as the Wounded Knee massacre. On the following day, Forsyth again engaged the Indians at Drexel Mission. Forsyth's actions were investigated at General Miles's instigation, and although he was cleared of any wrongdoing, Forsyth resented Miles's accusations.

Forsyth was commissioned brigadier general in December 1894 and appointed commander of the Department of California. He served in this position until his promotion to Major General in May 1897 when he retired from the military.

In 1867 James Forsyth married the daughter of the governor of Ohio, William Dennison. She died around 1888. By 1877, the couple had four children: a son, William Dennison Forsyth, who also entered the military, Marion, Betsy, who married Dallas Bache, a career military officer, and a fourth child. On retirement, Forsyth moved back to his native Ohio. He died in Columbus on October 24, 1906.

From the guide to the James W. Forsyth papers, 1865-1932 (inclusive), 1870-1898, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

James Williams Forsyth was born in Maumee, Ohio, on August 26, 1834, to James Henry Forsyth and Charlotte Templeton Jackson. After graduating from West Point in 1852, he served at Bellingham Bay and Camp Pickett in Washington Territory from 1856 through 1861. During the Civil War, Forsyth served on the staff of Major General McClelland as an inspector general major and a provost marshal general. He saw action as a major in the 10th Cavalry. When Philip H. Sheridan was given command of a cavalry corps in 1864, Forsyth joined him as his chief of staff. Forsyth was involved in many key battles and distinguished himself in the Shenandoah Valley and Richmond campaigns, for which he was brevetted brigadier general.

From 1866-1867, Forsyth commanded a cavalry brigade and acted as assistant inspector general of the Department of the Gulf. From 1869 to 1873, he was Sheridan's aide-de-camp in the Division of the Missouri, and accompanied him to Europe as an observer during the Franco-Prussian War. Forsyth returned to frontier duty until 1886, when he was promoted to colonel of the 7th Cavalry. The following year he was given command of Fort Riley, Kansas. There he established a school for cavalry and light infantry. In 1890, Forsyth commanded the troops which slaughtered the remnants of the Sioux Nation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Though Forsyth was initially relieved of his position because of outrage over the massacre, the Secretary of War exonerated him and reinstated his command. He was further promoted to brigadier general in 1894 and major general in 1897.

Forsyth married Elizabeth Dennison in 1867; they had four children. Forsyth died in Columbus, Ohio, on October 24, 1906.

From the guide to the James Forsyth papers, Forsyth, James papers, 1851-1881, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Harries, George Herbert, 1860-. George Herbert Harries papers, 1891-1898. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Ingalls, Rufus, 1820-1893. Autograph letter signed : H.Q., A.P., to Capt. J.W. Forsyth, 1863 Apr. 3. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Sherman, Edwin Allen, 1829-1914. Edwin Allen Sherman papers, 1872-1971, (bulk 1896-1913). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Statement of Brigadier General James W. Forsyth, 1891-1895 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Rare Book & Manuscript Library General Manuscript Collection, 1789-2013 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Philip Case Lockwood memorial collection of Civil War portraits and autographs, 1862-ca. 1886. Houghton Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
creatorOf James W. Forsyth papers, 1865-1932 (inclusive), 1870-1898 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Forsyth, James W. (James William), 1836-1906. James W. Forsyth family papers, 1803-2004 (bulk 1850-1896) University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Grant, Frederick Dent, 1850-1912. Yellowstone River expedition of 1875 papers, undated. U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center
referencedIn Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888. Philip Henry Sheridan papers, 1853-1896 (bulk 1862-1887). Library of Congress
creatorOf Forsyth, James William, 1836-1906. James W. Forsyth papers, 1865-1932 (inclusive), (bulk 1870-1898). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Hoppin, W. Sioux on the warpath, scrapbooks, 1890. Cornell University Library
creatorOf James Forsyth papers 1851-1881 Forsyth, James papers William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Harries, George Herbert, 1860-. George Herbert Harries papers, 1891-1898. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Forsyth, James W. (James William), 1836-1906. James Forsyth papers, 1851-1881. William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925. Letter : to Major G. W. Baird / by Nelson Appleton Miles, 1891 Nov. 20. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Philip Henry Sheridan Papers, 1853-1896, (bulk 1862-1887) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bell, J. Franklin. person
associatedWith Buffalo Bill, 1846-1917 person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Forsyth, Lizzie Dennison person
associatedWith Graham, William Montrose, 1834-1916. person
associatedWith Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 person
associatedWith Harries, George Herbert, 1860- person
associatedWith Henry, Guy Vernor, 1839-1899. person
associatedWith Hoppin, W. person
associatedWith Ingalls, Rufus, 1820-1893. person
associatedWith Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875 person
associatedWith Libby Prison. corporateBody
associatedWith Lockwood, Philip Case, 1844-1897 person
associatedWith Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925. person
associatedWith Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, 1808-1873. person
correspondedWith Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888. person
associatedWith Sherman, Edwin Allen, 1829-1914. person
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Cavalry. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Cavalry, 1st. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Cavalry, 7th corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Dept. of California. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Dept. of the Missouri. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Dept. of the Missouri. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Fort Peck Indian Reservation (Mont.)
United States
Montana
United States
Montana--North America
Fort Riley (Kan.)
Fort Maginnis (Mont.)
Wolf Point Indian Agency (Mont.)
United States
Fort Shaw (Mont.)
Fort Maginnis (Mont.)
Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Mont.)
Fort Peck Indian Reservation (Mont.)
Presidio of San Francisco (Calif.)
Fort Browning (Mont.)
Fort Riley (Kan.)
Wolf Point Indian Agency (Mont.)
Fort Shaw (Mont.)
United States
Fort Browning (Mont.)
Presidio of San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif.)
Fort Belknap Indian Reservation (Mont.)
Subject
Trading posts
Trading posts
Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890
Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890
Yankton Indians
Assiniboine Indians
Atsina Indians
Bannock Indians
Crow Indians
Dakota Indians
Franco
Gros Ventre Indians (Mont.)
Indian reservations
Indian reservations
Indians of North America
Indians of North America
Indians of North America
Indians of North America
Piegan Indians
Santee Indians
Sedan Campaign, 1870
Occupation
Soldiers
Soldiers
Activity

Person

Birth 1835-08-08

Death 1906-10-24

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