Thomas Gamble Pitcher
Brigadier General, United States Army
Born in the river town of Rockport, Indiana, October 23, 1824. At age 17 he was appointed to the United States Military Academy and graduated in the class of 1845, ranking next to last in that class. He was posted to 5th United States Infantry as a brevet Second Lieutnenant, and served in the military occupation of Texas which immediately preceded Mexican War and was breveted for gallantry in battle during the war.
He was appointed First Lieutenant of the 8th United States Infantry in 1849 and Captain in 1858. When the Civil War began he was depot commissary at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas. His only active service in the war was at the battle of Cedar Mountain, a preliminary to Second Manassas, where he commanded battalion of skirmishers in Prince's Brigade of Augur's Division. During the battle he received a severe wound in knee which made him an invalid for a number of months.
On March 20, 1863, he was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers to rank from November 29. From June 1863 until end of war he was on duty as state provost marshal general, first in Vermont and subsequently in Indiana for the Federal government. While stationed in Vermont, his subordinates were literally driven out of the town of Rutland, Vermont, by a force of 500 Irishmen who refused to register to fight for their adopted country. Of all the nationalities represented in US in 1861, Irish were the most bitterly anti-Negro. Tending to settle in urban centers, they regarded Negroes as challengers to their own livelihoods. This situation is pointed up by the fact that Irish immigrants were employed North and South to clear and level forest land and to build the early railroad grades. In the South an able-bodied Negro was worth far more than a hired Irishman; hence, scores of the latter died in the malarial swamps of Alabama and Mississippi. The Irish of New York and New England were something less than distinguished for patriotism in their opposition to draft. Eventually the authority of the U.S. prevailed, however, and he was able to move to Indianapolis, where he directed affairs of the bureau until his muster-out of volunteer service in 1866.
At this juncture he became simultaneously Colonel of the 44th United States Infantry and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, the latter honor accorded to few and never previously to one who had graduated so low in his own class, which is a testimonial either to his ability or to the state of affairs in the War Department at the time. He served as Superintendent of West Point from August 28, 1866 until September 1, 1870. His appointment to the position was at a time when a power struggle between President Johnson and Republican Radicals was building up to its climax. It is probable that officers of greater reputation declined position. He was succeeded by such illustrious names as T. H. Ruger, J. M. Schofield, O. O. Howard, Wesley Merritt, and John Parke. It may also be significant that when he relieved G. W. Cullum in command of West Point, the latter subsequently found nothing to write about him in his Biographical Register except the bare facts of his career.
From 1870 until 1877 he was governor of the
Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C., and the following year was retired
"for disability contracted in the line of duty." Seventeen years later
he died, probably of tuberculosis, at Fort Bayard, New Mexico, October
21, 1895. He was buried in Section 3 (Grave 2046) of Arlington National
Cemetery. His wife, Mary J. Pitcher, July 4, 1832-December 25, 1894,
is buried with him.
October 22, 1895 - General Thomas G. Pitcher, retired, died yesterday atFort Bayard, New Mexico. General Pitcher was born in Indiana, from which State he entered the Military Academy in 1841. From 1862 to 1866 he was in the volunteer service, being mustered out as a Brigadier General, to which grade he was brevetted for most distinguished services. He retired in 1878.
PITCHER, THOMAS GAMBLE
BRIG GEN USA
DATE OF DEATH: 10/21/1895
BURIED AT: SECTION 3 SITE LOT 2046
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
PITCHER, MARY I W/O THOMAS GAMBLE
John Pitcher, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army. The son of Thomas Gamble Pitcher. 1864-1926; Matilda C. Pitcher, the wife of John Pitcher. 1864-1924; William Lewis Pitcher, Colonel, United States Army. 27th United States Infantry. The son of Thomas Gamble Pitcher. He is buried in an adjacent site in Section 3. December 29, 1852-October 24, 1930. "The eternal God is Thy Redemer and underneath are the everlasting arms," and his wife, Anna BowieHarris Pitcher, died 29 December 1945.
Photo Courtesy of Russell P. Dodge
Posted: 15 November 2000 Updated: 4 December 2001 Updated: 22 December 2003 Updated: 7 August 2006 Updated: 24 September 2007