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Robert Wilson Shufeldt
Major, United States Army
New York State Flag
Mr. Patterson:

My name is Walt Cross, I am a retired Army Master Sergeant. I am researching Major Shufeldt with an eye to writing his biography. I came across your excellent photograph of his headstone at Artlington.

I thought I would tell you a bit about the Major. He served as an Army surgeon from 1876 to 1891 at Fort Laramie, yoming but primarily at Fort Wingate, New Mexico. In July of 1876 he was one of the first visitors to the site of the Little Big Horn battle and collected human remains under somewhat questionable circumstances. Colonel Sheridan, brother of General Phillip Sheridan, was in charge of the burial detail under Lieutenant Nowlan of the 7th Cavalry. He had instructed that no one be allowed on the site as burials were peformed. While passing by with a detachment of the 5th Cavalry, Shufeldt took a skull and later sent it to the Army Medical Museum.  It resides today in the Smithsonian.

I later identified these remains as those of Second Lieutenant Henry Moore Harrington in my book "Custer's Lost Officer."

Shufeldt spent most of his career as an Army surgeon at Fort Wingate and in addition to his military duties performed as a curator for the AMM and the SI in the field of ornithology.  Son of a Navy admiral, he served as a warrant officer during the Civil War. I have some additional details if you are interested.

However, I would like your permission to use your photograph of his headstone in my biography of him. Thanks.
 Walt Cross, November 2006



Additional Information From Walt Cross: Dcember 2006

As a boy he lived in Havana Cuba where his father was the American Consul-General during the Lincoln administration.  In 1864 his father (who bore the same name) was recalled to active Navy service and took command of the USS Proteus, a Union steamer gunship.  Robert was appointed a warrant officer and assigned to his father's ship as signal officer and ship's clerk.  (His father, Robert Wilson Shufeldt, is interesting, attaining the rank of Admiral and forcing Korea open to western trade in the same manner as Commodore Perry in Japan).
 
After the Civil War Robert attended Cornell University (now George Washington University) to study medicine and was appointed a Lieutenant in the Medical Department.  In 1876 he was initially assigned to Fort McHenry, Maryland.  He requested duty in the west and was sent to Fort Laramie, Wyoming either late in 1876 or early in 1877.  In 1880 he was assigned to Fort Wingate, NM and appointed a curator with the Army Medical Museum to serve as such in conjunction with his medical duties as an Army surgeon.  He was also appointed an honorary curator of the Smithsonian Institution.
 
From 1880 until his retirement as a Captain in 1891 due to a heart condition, Robert surveyed the desert southwest, conducting a biological survey of mammals and birds. During this time he published approximately 1100 articles, books, and papers for such publications as "The Auk", the foremost journal for ornithology. He also assisted Captain Washington Mathews in his anthropological work among the Navajo of New Mexico and Arizona.
 
Robert was recalled to active duty in 1904 and promoted to Major under an act by Congress promoting Civil War veterans. He served on active duty during World War I in the Army Medical Museum.
 
He was married three times, to Catherine Babcock, the mother of his two sons, Robert III and Percy W. Shufeldt. He then married  Florence Audubon, granddaughter of the famous naturalist and ornithologist John James Audubon, and finally he married Alfhild Dagny Lowum, daughter of a Norwegian sea Captain.


Robert Wilson Shufeldt of New York
Appointed from the District of Columbia, Assistant Surgeon, 5 August 1876
Retired 25 February 1901

Robert Wilson Shufeldt was born in New York in 1850.  He served as a Surgeon in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Major.  He died on 21 January 1934 and was buried with full military honors in Section 6 of Arlington National Cemetery.  His wife, Alfhild Dagny Lowum Shufeldt (born in 1871 and died on 11 May 1934) is buried with him.
SHUFELDT, A D W/O ROBERT W

DATE OF DEATH: 05/11/1934
DATE OF INTERMENT: 05/14/1934
BURIED AT: SECTION 6  SITE 9710
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
 WIFE OF RW SHUFELDT, MAJOR USA

SHUFELDT, ROBERT W
MAJ USA RET NY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
DATE OF DEATH: 01/21/1934
DATE OF INTERMENT: 01/23/1934
BURIED AT: SECTION 6  SITE 9710
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

SHUFELDT, A D W/O ROBERT W
DATE OF DEATH: 05/11/1934
BURIED AT: SECTION 6  SITE 9710
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
 WIFE OF RW SHUFELDT, MAJOR USA


Posted: 1 January 2005 Updated: 19 February 2006 Updated: 26 August 2006 Updated: 2 December 2006 Updated: 3 December 2006

RW Shufeldt Gravesite PHOTO December 2004
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 2 December 2004