Born at Kalida, Ohio, October 9, 1843, he served as a Private, Company D, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry from April 12, 1861. He subsequently entered West Point and graduated in the Class of 1867. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant, 7th United States Cavalry, June 17, 1867 and was promoted through the grades to Brigadier General, January 17, 1907.
He was breveted Major, February 27, 1890, and awarded the Medal of Honor for “most distinguished gallantry” at Bear Paw Mountain against Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians, September 30, 1877.
He served in all the campaigns and Indian fights of his regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel (Brevet Major General) George A. Custer, until Custer's death.
He originated the Cossack and Rough Riding maneuvers for the Army Cavalry and was a member of the Board which devised drill regulations for Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry for the Army.
He served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines during the Insurrection there.
He was retired by operation of law on October 9, 1907.
He was also Senior Vice Commander in Chief of the Loyal Legion of the United States and was a 32 degree Mason. He was the author of “Cavalry Fire Disciplines,” “Custer's Last Battle,” “Some Reminiscences, Including An Account of General Sully's Campaign Against The Southern Plains Indians,” “Some Reminiscences Including The Washita Battle of November 26, 1868.”
He died on April 1, 1932 and was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery. His second wife, Ida D. Emely Godfrey (1856-1941), whom he married on October 6, 1892, is buried with him.
GODFREY, EDWARD S.
Rank and organization: Captain, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Bear Paw Mountain, Montana, 30 September 1877. Entered service at: Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio. Born: 9 October 1843, Ottawa, Ohio. Date of issue: 27 November 1894.
Led his command into action when he was severely wounded.
April 1932 Press Report:
GENERAL E. S. GODFREY, INDIAN FIGHTER, DIES IN 88TH YEAR
COOKSTOWN, New Jersey, April 1, 1932 – Brigadier General Edward S. Godfrey, veteran of the Indian wars, died here tonight at the age of 88.
The General’s death following an attack of heart disease which had kept him in bed for some time in his old colonial house here filled with antiques and relics of his campaigns. The house has been in the possession of Mrs. Godfrey’s family for more than 200 years.
Funeral services will be held next Tuesday at the Memorial Chapel in Arlington National Cemetery. The body will be taken to Washington Tuesday morning.
General Edward S. Godfrey of the old Army died in a quiet little village in New Jersey at the ripe age of 88. He was a typical West Pointer of the old school, proud of his profession, and having certain standards of behavior that are rather uncommon in this age of advancement by the use of political influence. He never attained higher rank than that of Brigadier General, but he was retired for age long before the World War. General Godfrey was at the time of his death the oldest graduate of the Military Academy and the only surviving officer of the Little Big Horn campaign, in which Colonel George A. Custer and 277 troopers of the Seventh Cavalry were, killed to a man by Indians ten times their numbers, who were better armed with repeating rifles.
In the Little Big Horn campaign, Edward S. Godfrey was a Lieutenant in Captain Benteen’s force, which, with Major Reno’s troops, was operating in support of Colonel Custer’s main body. When scouts reported an Indian village in an unexplored country, Custer divided his command into three “battalions,” Reno was ordered to begin an attack on the village; Custer was to proceed up the river to reinforce Reno; while Benteen had orders to scout to the left and deal with bands of Indians he encountered. Major Reno had only 112 men, and, finding in his front a greatly superior body of the enemy, halted, took cover, and finally retreated across the river. Godfrey severely criticized the tactics of Reno, holding that it he had engaged the Indians their concentration on Custer might have been prevented. Reno had his defenders, among them General W. S. Edgerly, who was also a Lieutenant in Benteen’s command. Judge Advocate Graham also championed Reno. In spite of a distinguished Civil War record, Reno was dismissed from the army. There is no doubt that General Godfrey did his duty “as he saw it” in condemning Reno. The latter’s fate was, however, another tragedy of the Little Big Horn campaign.
OLD INDIAN FIGHTER BURIED IN ARLINGTON
Full Military Honors Paid Gen. E. S. Godfrey,
Survivor of Custer Massacre.
Brigadier General Edward Settle Godfrey 88 retired Indian fighter of the Army who died Friday at his home in Cookstown, New Jersey, was buried this afternoon in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. General Godfrey was a survivor of the historic massacre of General Custer and his men.
Services were held at Fort Myer Chapel at 2 o'clock. The following were
Major General Edward F. McGlachin, Jr.; Major General William J. Snow, Major General Charles D. Rhodes, Major General George H. Cameron, Brigadier General Thomas H. Slaven and Colonel Henry H. Sheen, all retired; Colonel C. T. Rizer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Danford, Captain Robert G. Carter, retired and Graham H. Powell.
General Godfrey was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in leading his command in action against hostile Nez Perces at Bear Paw Mountain, Montana, September 30, 1877. At the burial of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, General Godfrey led two platoons of medal of honor men who took part in those ceremonies.
He was a veteran of the Civil War, having served as a private in the 21st Ohio Infantry, and was commissioned as second lieutenant after his graduation from the Military Academy in 1867.
General Godfrey is survived by widow, Mrs. Ida E. Godfrey of Cookstown; a daughter, Miss Mary Godfrey of the city, and son, Dr. E. S. Godfrey Jr. Albany, New York.
GODFREY, EDWARD S
- BRIG GENERAL U S ARMY RETIRED
- DATE OF DEATH: 04/01/1932
- BURIED AT: SECTION 3 SITE 4175-F
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
GODFREY, IDA E W/O EDWARD S
- DATE OF DEATH: 02/11/1941
- BURIED AT: SECTION 3 SITE 4175-E
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard