Thomas Parke Gere
First Lieutenant, United States Army
at Chemung County, New York, December 10, 1842, he earned the Medal of
Honor while serving as First Lieutenant & Adjutant, 5th Minnesota Volunteer
Infantry near Nashville, Tennessee, on December 16, 1864 (during the Civil
He died on January 8, 1912 and was buried in
Section 1 (Grave 361) of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Emma Gere
(died on November 22, 1929), is buried with him.
Thomas Parke Gere was no stranger to conflict when Company B, 5th Minnesota Infantry, joined the remainder of the regiment in Mississippi in late 1862. Three months earlier, Gere commanded a force of about 30 soldiers and 200 settlers who repelled Santee Sioux attacks at Ft. Ridgely, Minn., during the U.S.-Dakota Wars.
Nearly two years of action throughout the South hardened the Minnesotans when they arrived at Nashville in late 1864. Gere, now a first lieutenant assigned to Company S, had risen to acting assistant adjutant general of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the 16th Corps.
Attached to the Army of the Tennessee, the regiment commanded by Gere's older brother, Lieutenant Colonel William B. Gere, helped blunt enemy efforts to cut the supply lines of General William T. Sherman's troops, striking deep into Georgia.
On December 16, the Minnesotans charged the enemy lines and Gere's taking of the colors of the 4th Mississippi Infantry earned him the Medal of Honor. The Wellsburg native is one of two Chemung County natives to wear the award. Sergeant John Denny of Big Flats received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Indian Wars. A February Star-Gazette story profiled his life. Monuments to both men are located in Elmira's Wisner Park.
Following the Battle of Nashville, Gere saw action in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama before leaving the Army in April 1865. He died November 22, 1929, and is the lone area Medal of Honor recipient buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Gere, born September 10, 1842, was the youngest of eight children (three died in infancy) of George and Sarah Gere who moved the family to Minnesota three years later. He enlisted in the Army in January 1862 at Fort Snelling, Minn., (now St. Paul) and quickly rose through the ranks. Seven weeks later, he wore the stripes of a First Sergeant, pinned on a second lieutenant's gold bars March 14 and in August the silver bars of a First Lieutenant.
Was he an exemplary soldier or did he benefit from his brother's position and influence? Determining a definitive answer more than 150 years later is a daunting task, but Gere's judgment at Fort Ridgely demonstrated that the young officer possessed a large measure of common sense.
The command of Fort Ridgely fell to Gere after the ranking officer died during an ambush by warring Sioux Indians. About 400 Sioux attacked the fort August 20, 1862, but were driven back. Two days later, a force of 800 warriors attacked. Although outnumbered nearly three to one, the fort's defenses included an artillery battery.
Gere, still three weeks short of his 20th birthday,
acknowledged his lack of experience. He put a veteran sergeant in charge
of the artillery and the more experienced soldier quickly trained the troops
and settlers to fire the heavy guns. The bombardments forced the Sioux
to retreat with heavy casualties.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant and Adjutant, 5th Minnesota Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tennessee, 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Chemung County, New York. Date of issue: 24 February 1865.
Citation: Capture of flag of 4th Mississippi
Photo courtesy of Raymond L. Collins
Updated: 29 September 2000 Updated: 8 July 2002 Updated: 15 March 2003 Updated: 25 July 2003 Updated: 26 March 2006 Updated: 20 May 2006
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003