Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871

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Anderson was born at "Soldier's Retreat," the Anderson family estate near Louisville, Kentucky. His father, Richard Clough Anderson Sr. (1750–1826), served in the Continental Army as an aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War, and was a charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati; his mother, Sarah Marshall (1779–1854), was a cousin of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1825, and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Regiment of Artillery.

A few months after graduation, he became a private secretary to his older brother Richard Clough Anderson, Jr., who was serving as the US Minister to Gran Colombia. He served in the Black Hawk War of 1832 as a colonel of Illinois volunteers, where he had the distinction of twice mustering Abraham Lincoln in and once out of army service. He also was in charge of transporting Black Hawk to Jefferson Barracks after his capture, assisted by Jefferson Davis.

Returning to regular Army service as a first lieutenant in 1833, he served in the Second Seminole War as an assistant adjutant general on the staff of Winfield Scott, and was promoted to captain in October 1841.

In the Mexican–American War, he participated in the Siege of Vera Cruz, March 9–29, 1847, the Battle of Cerro Gordo, April 17–18, 1847, the Skirmish of Amazoque, May 14, 1847, and Battle of Molino del Rey on September 8, 1847. He was severely wounded at Molino del Rey while assaulting enemy fortifications, for which he received a brevet promotion to major.

Due to his wounds, Anderson was on sick leave of absence during 1847–48. He was then in garrison at Fort Preble, Maine from 1848 to 1849. He then served from 1849 to 1851 as a member of the Board of Officers to devise "A Complete System of Instruction for Siege, Garrison, Seacoast, and Mountain Artillery," which was adopted on May 10, 1851. He then returned to garrison duty at Fort Preble from 1850 to 1853.

From 1855 to 1859, in view of his precarious health and probably also due to his connections to General Winfield Scott, Anderson was assigned to the light duty of inspecting the iron beams produced in a mill in Trenton, New Jersey for Federal construction projects. (While residing in Trenton, Anderson became a Freemason and was a member of Mercer Lodge No. 50.) He eventually received a permanent promotion to major of the 1st Regiment of Artillery in the Regular Army on October 5, 1857. He was the author of Instruction for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot in 1839.

In November 1860, Anderson was assigned to command of U.S. forces in and around Charleston, South Carolina. When South Carolina seceded in December 1860 Anderson remained loyal to the Union, despite being a native of Kentucky and a former slave owner. He moved his small garrison from Fort Moultrie, which was indefensible, to the more modern, more defensible, Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston Harbor. In February 1861 the Confederate States of America was formed and took charge. Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, ordered the fort be captured. The artillery attack was commanded by Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, who had been Anderson's student at West Point. The attack began April 12, 1861, and continued until Anderson, badly outnumbered and outgunned, surrendered the fort on April 14. The battle began the American Civil War. No one was killed in the battle on either side, but one Union soldier was killed and one mortally wounded during a 50-gun salute.

Robert Anderson's actions in defense of Fort Sumter made him an immediate national hero. He was promoted to brigadier general in the Regular Army, effective May 15. Anderson took the fort's 33-star flag with him to New York City, where he participated in a Union Square patriotic rally that was the largest public gathering in North America up to that time.

The modern meaning of the American flag, according to Harold Holzer in 2007 and Adam Goodheart in 2011, was forged by Anderson's stand at Fort Sumter. Holzer states that New York City:

responded with a "feast of the American flag." Eyewitnesses estimated that as many as 100,000 flags quickly went on display across the city. To punctuate this feast of national colors, New York's graphic artists rushed out patriotic engravings and lithographs depicting avenging soldiers or gowned goddesses, bayonets upthrust, carrying "The Flag of Our Union" into future battles....Composers dedicated songs like "Our Countries Flag" to President Lincoln, and adorned their published sheet music with colorful images of resolute soldiers gripping the national banner.

During the war the flag was used throughout the North to symbolize American nationalism and rejection of secessionism. Goodheart explains the flag was transformed into a sacred symbol of patriotism:

Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory ... and displayed on special occasions like the Fourth of July. But in the weeks after Major Anderson's surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew ... from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads. ... [T]hat old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.

Anderson then went on a highly successful recruiting tour of the North. His next assignment placed him in another sensitive political position, commander of the Department of Kentucky (subsequently renamed the Department of the Cumberland), in a border state that had officially declared neutrality between the warring parties. He served in that position from May 28, 1861. Historians commonly attribute failing health as the reason for his relinquishment of command to Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman, on October 7, 1861. But a letter from Joshua Fry Speed, Lincoln's close friend, suggests Lincoln's preference for Anderson's removal. Speed met with Anderson and found him reluctant to implement Lincoln's wishes to distribute rifles to Unionists in Kentucky. Anderson, Speed wrote to Lincoln on October 8, "seemed grieved that [he] had to surrender his command ... [but] agreed that it was necessary and gracefully yielded."

In 1862 Anderson was elected an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati. Anderson's grandnephew, Ambassador Larz Anderson, was highly active in the Society.

Anderson's last military assignment was a brief period as commanding officer of Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, in August 1863. Anderson officially retired from the Army on October 27, 1863, "for Disability resulting from Long and Faithful Service, and Wounds and disease contracted in the Line of Duty", but continued to serve on the staff of the general commanding the Eastern Department, headquartered in New York City, from October 27, 1863 until January 22, 1869. On February 3, 1865, Anderson was brevetted a major general for "gallantry and meritorious service" in the defense of Fort Sumter.

After Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox and the effective conclusion of the war, at the behest of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Anderson returned to Charleston in uniform. Four years after lowering the 33-star flag in surrender, Anderson raised it in triumph over the recaptured but badly battered Fort Sumter. However, hours after the ceremony of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln.

After the war, Anderson became a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. In 1869, he discussed the future of the U.S. Army with Sylvanus Thayer. Afterward, they helped establish the Military Academy's Association of Graduates (AoG).

Anderson died in Nice, France, seeking a cure for his ailments. He was interred at West Point Cemetery.

Anderson's brother, Charles Anderson, served as Governor of Ohio from 1865 to 1866. A second brother, Larz Anderson II was the father of Nicholas Longworth Anderson who served as a general in the Union Army. Nicholas' son, Larz Anderson III, was a diplomat and a leading member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Another brother, William Marshall Anderson, was a Western explorer and Ohio attorney. A zealous Catholic and Confederate sympathizer, he briefly moved to Mexico during the reign of Emperor Maximilian in hopes of establishing a Confederate colony there.[ W. Marshall Anderson's son, Thomas M. Anderson, was a brigadier general who fought in the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War.

In 1845, Anderson married Eliza Bayard Clinch (1828–1905), the daughter of Duncan Lamont Clinch. They were the parents of five children: Marie (1849–1925), Sophie (1852–1934), Eliza, Robert Jr. (1859–1879) and Duncan. Anderson was the great-grandfather of actor Montgomery Clift through his daughter Maria, although this relationship has not been definitively established by genealogical sources. Allegedly, the doctor who delivered Ethel Anderson Clift told her when she was an adult that she was the illegitimate daughter of Maria Anderson and Woodbury Blair, but no documentation exists to verify the relationship. Nonetheless, the legend continues. Virtually all sources that advance this theory reference Ethel's own statements or Clift's biographies.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Major Robert Anderson collection, 1861. Kentucky Historical Society, Martin F. Schmidt Research Library
creatorOf Robert Anderson letters, 1842-1861 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Letter, 1861. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Wallace, Emma, fl. 1870. Photograph album of Emma Wallace [manuscript], ca. 1870. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Anson Conger Goodyear Collection, 1813-1890 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Robert Anderson : miscellaneous papers, 1836-1864 (bulk 1860-1864). The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. Description of ceremonies at Fort Sumter, 1865 May 28. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Stephen W. Church papers, Church, Stephen W. papers, 1859-1861 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Records of the Adjutant General's Office. 1762 - 1984. Union Battle Reports. 1874 - 1899. Telegram from Major Robert Anderson to the Secretary of War
creatorOf Abercrombie, John J., 1798-1877. Military officer correspondence, 1865-1903. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Leland, Samuel Wells, 1824-1884. Samuel Wells Leland papers, 1845-1876. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896,. Civil War Leaders Ephemera Collection. 1860-1865 (bulk). Porterville Public Library
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Autograph orders signed : Athens, Tennessee, to Capt. G.S. Drane, 1838 Nov. 8. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Williams, Micajah Terrell, 1792-1844. Papers, 1741,1802-1906. Library of Congress
referencedIn Bodley family. Bodley family papers, 1773-1939. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850. Orders, Headquarters Fort Brook, Tampa Bay, 1838 September 8th. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Anderson, Richard Clough, 1788-1826. Papers of Richard Clough Anderson, 1781-1892. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Papers of Robert Anderson, 1819-1948 (bulk 1836-1870). Library of Congress
referencedIn Waggoner, N. W. b. 1834. Diary 1861 January 1 - December 31. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Johnson, Absalom Y. (Absalom Yarbrough), 1821-1907. Diary, 1860-1864. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892. Samuel Wylie Crawford papers, 1860-1892. Library of Congress
referencedIn Spring, Rebecca. Rebecca Spring papers, ca. 1830-1900. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn S. Griswold Flagg collection, 1825-1938 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Consolidated Military Officer's File of General Robert Anderson United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Anderson Family papers, 1810-1848 The Huntington Library
referencedIn Wickliffe, C. A. (Charles Anderson), 1788-1869. Charles Anderson Wickliffe : miscellaneous papers, 1826-1863. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Civil War collection. The Filson Historical Society
contributorOf Consolidated Military Officer's File of Robert Anderson, New York, 1864 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Church, Stephen Wardwell, 1833-1906. Stephen W. Church papers, 1859-1861. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
referencedIn Anderson family. Anderson family papers, 1810-1948. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Civil War letter of Maj. Robert Anderson, 1861 Jan. 16. Navarro College
referencedIn Flagg, S. Griswold. S. Griswold Flagg collection, 1825-1938 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866. Letters, 1857-1863. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn United States. Army. Programme of the order of exercies at the re-raising of the United States flag on Fort Sumter; 1865 Apr. 14, Charleston, S.C. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
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 Robert B. Anderson Papers. 1933 - 1989. Photographs Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn General Orders No. 17 1861 October 1 Broadside. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Anderson, William Pope, 1874-1951,. Anderson Family : papers, 1805-1911. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Wallace, Emma, fl. 1870. Photograph album of Emma Wallace, ca. 1870. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn True, Clinton Jones, 1836-ca.1880. Clinton Jones True papers, 1861-1892 1873-1880. University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Bryan, P. O. "Special" to [the Charleston Daily] "Courier," 1861 Jan. 16. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Letters to L.M. Flournoy, 1853-1864. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863. John J. Crittenden papers, 1836-1861. University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library
referencedIn Anderson-Latham family : papers, 1711-1911. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Beauregard, G. T. (Gustave Toutant), 1818-1893. Letter, 1861. Harold B. Lee Library
referencedIn Anderson-Brooke family : papers, 1793-1983. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889. Papers. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Samuel Wylie Crawford Papers, 1860-1892 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Anderson family. Anderson Family : miscellaneous papers, 1796-1834. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896,. John A. McAllister Papers, 1820-1885 (bulk 1860-1866). Porterville Public Library
referencedIn Philip Case Lockwood memorial collection of Civil War portraits and autographs, 1862-ca. 1886. Houghton Library
referencedIn Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Letter : Washington, D.C., to [Robert] Anderson, n.p., 1863 Aug. 15. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Anderson, Charles, 1814-1895. The story of Soldier's Retreat : a memoir. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Dawson, Henry B. (Henry Barton), 1821-1889. Letter, [188u?] Feb. 24 (Morrisonia, N.Y.) to Gen. [Samuel Wylie] Crawford. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
referencedIn Autograph File, A, 1518-2002. Houghton Library
creatorOf Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964. Anson Conger Goodyear collection, 1813-1890 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Robert Anderson Papers, 1819-1948, (bulk 1836-1870) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn William Warland Clapp correspondence, 1790-1891 (inclusive), 1840-1891 (bulk). Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson, Charles, 1814-1895. person
associatedWith Anderson, Eliza Bayard. person
correspondedWith Anderson family. family
associatedWith Anderson family. person
associatedWith Anderson Family, 1810-1848 family
correspondedWith Anderson, Larz, 1866-1937 person
associatedWith Anderson, Richard Clough, 1788-1826. person
associatedWith Anderson, William Pope, 1874-1951, person
correspondedWith Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867 person
correspondedWith Barnum, P. T. (Phineas Taylor), 1810-1891 person
associatedWith Beauregard, G. T. (Gustave Toutant), 1818-1893. person
associatedWith Bodley family. family
associatedWith Bruce, L. D. person
associatedWith Bryan, P. O. person
associatedWith Church, Stephen Wardwell, 1833-1906. person
associatedWith Clapp, William Warland, 1826-1891 person
correspondedWith Clinch, Duncan Lamont, 1787-1849 person
associatedWith Cooper, Samuel, 1798-1876. person
correspondedWith Crawford, Samuel Wylie, 1827-1892. person
associatedWith Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863. person
associatedWith Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889. person
associatedWith Dawson, Henry B. (Henry Barton), 1821-1889. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
correspondedWith Dix, John A. (John Adams), 1798-1879 person
correspondedWith Doubleday, Abner, 1819-1893 person
associatedWith Drane, G. S., Capt, person
associatedWith Dudley, Ethelbert L., d. 1862. person
correspondedWith Fish, Hamilton, 1808-1893 person
associatedWith Flagg, S. Griswold. person
associatedWith Flagg, S. Griswold. person
associatedWith Flournoy, Lafayette Montgomery. person
leaderOf Fort Moultrie (S.C.) corporateBody
leaderOf Fort Sumter corporateBody
associatedWith Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890. person
associatedWith Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964. person
associatedWith Hainland, Carrie. person
correspondedWith Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894 person
associatedWith Johnson, Absalom Y. (Absalom Yarbrough), 1821-1907. person
associatedWith Lawton, Eba Anderson, d. 1919. person
associatedWith Leland, Samuel Wells, 1824-1884. person
correspondedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 person
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. person
associatedWith Lockwood, Philip Case, 1844-1897 person
associatedWith McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896, person
associatedWith McClellan, George B. (George Brinton), 1826-1885. person
associatedWith Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Commandery of the State of Massachusetts, collector. corporateBody
correspondedWith Newell, William A. (William Augustus), 1817-1901 person
correspondedWith Pickens, F. W. (Francis Wilkinson), 1805-1869 person
associatedWith Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866. person
correspondedWith Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891 person
associatedWith Sprague, J. F. person
associatedWith Spring, Rebecca. person
correspondedWith Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869 person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850. person
associatedWith Thomas, Lorenzo, 1804-1875. person
associatedWith Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. person
associatedWith True, Clinton Jones, 1836-ca.1880. person
associatedWith United States. Army. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army. Artillery Regiment, 1st. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army. Artillery Regiment, 3rd. corporateBody
leaderOf United States. Army. Dept. of the Cumberland. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Department of State corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf United States Military Academy corporateBody
associatedWith Waggoner, N. W. b. 1834. person
associatedWith Wallace, Emma, fl. 1870. person
associatedWith Wickliffe, C. A. (Charles Anderson), 1788-1869. person
associatedWith Williams, Micajah Terrell, 1792-1844. person
associatedWith Williams, Stephen K. person
associatedWith Workman, James H. (James Henry), 1843-ca. 1914 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Cumberland County ME US
Fort Moultrie SC US
West Point NY US
Mexico 00 MX
Fort Sumter (historical) SC US
Nice B8 FR
Florida FL US
Louisville KY US
Newport RI US
Republic of Colombia 00 CO
Illinois IL US
Subject
Seminole War, 2d, 1835-1842
Governor
Mexican War, 1846-1848
Fortification--History--Sources
Vera Cruz, Battle of, 1847
Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.)--Siege, 1861
Cerro Gordo, Battle of, Mexico, 1847
Coast defenses--United States
Black Hawk War, 1832
Civil War, 1861-1865
Occupation
Army officers
Soldiers--19 century.--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1805-06-14

Death 1871-10-26

Male

Americans

English

Information

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