President Abraham Lincoln Appoints a Cavalry Officer Who Would Soon Command a Regiment and Be Decorated For Heroism at Antietam

An extremely early military appointment - March 1861 - with the Civil War Looming but before it had broken out

James E. Harrison, though born in Virginia, served the Union cause during the Civil War. He received his first appointment as a Second Lieutenant to the 2d U. S. Cavalry in June 1856, and was stationed in Texas and various forts in the West until December 1858, when he was assigned to...

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President Abraham Lincoln Appoints a Cavalry Officer Who Would Soon Command a Regiment and Be Decorated For Heroism at Antietam

An extremely early military appointment - March 1861 - with the Civil War Looming but before it had broken out

James E. Harrison, though born in Virginia, served the Union cause during the Civil War. He received his first appointment as a Second Lieutenant to the 2d U. S. Cavalry in June 1856, and was stationed in Texas and various forts in the West until December 1858, when he was assigned to scouting Indians. He returned East, and with the Civil War imminent he was promoted to First Lieutenant 2d U.S. Cavalry in March 1861 and then to Captain 5th U.S. Cavalry in May of that year. Harrison was engaged in the Peninsular campaign and commanded a regiment in the Army of the Potomac from September 1862 to June 1863. During that time he served at the battles of Antietem, Chancellorsville, and Brandy Station, among many others. He was Breveted Major U.S. Army for gallant and meritorious services at the battle of Hanover Court House, and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army for gallant and meritorious services at the battle of Antietam. In July of 1864 Harrison was assigned to be Inspector-General of Cavalry in the Department of Arkansas, and was later appointed as Special Inspector of Cavalry in West Mississippi.

Document signed, as President, Washington, March 29, 1861, effective retroactively to February 27, 1861, an ornate, vignetted commission, with an eagle, cannons and flags, appointing Harrison to the rank of “First Lieutenant in the Second Regiment of Cavalry.” The document is countersigned by Secretary of War Simon Cameron.

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