Guy Vernor Henry – Major General, United States Army

Born at Fort Smith, Indian Territory (now Arkansas), March 9, 1839, he graduated from West Point on May 5, 1861 and served throughout the Civil War and Indian Wars as Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier General in the Regular Army.

He received successive brevets for gallantry in various battles and was breveted Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for gallantry at Rose Bud, Montana, where he was shot through the face while fighting Indians. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 5, 1893 for his Civil War Service at the battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 where he was serving as Colonel, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

He was later Colonel of the all-black 10th U.S. Cavalry and was commanding Fort Assinniboine during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He served as military governor of Puerto Rico following that war.

He died at his home in New York City on October 27, 1899 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Distinguished Officer Succumbs to an Attack of Pneumonia
Famed As an Indian Fighter
Rewarded For Bravery in the Civil War and on the Frontier
Governor of Puerto Rico

October 28, 1899 – New York, New York – Brigadier General Guy V. Henry, United States Army, who until recently was Military Governor of the Island of Puerto Rico, died at 3:50 o’clock yesterday morning at his home, 139 Madison Avenue.  Pneumonia, which developed from a cold contracted nine days ago was the cause of his death.

“Fighting Guy” Henry, as he was called, was known throughout the Army as a brilliant and fearless campaigner.  In the Civil War, the subsequent Indian campaigns, and the Spanish-American War he distinguished himself both in the field and in the council tent, obtaining, as a final recognition of his conspicuous services, the appointment to the chief authority in Puerto Rico after that island had come under the rule of the United States.  From his entrance into West Point in 1856 to the time of his death, General Henry’s military career was of unbroken success.

If inheritance counts for anything, General Henry was born under decidedly advantageous conditions.  His grandfather was Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, and his father was Major William S. Henry, who was stationed at Fort Smith, Indian Territory, when General Henry was born on March 3, 1839.  Accustomed to life in an Army post and to military ways, young Henry decided early in life to follow the profession of arms.  He entered the United States Military Academy in 1856, completing the required course, which at that time covered five years, in 1861 – just in time for the Civil War.

As a Second Lieutenant in the First Regular Artillery, and later as a First Lieutenant in the same regiment, he served until November 1863, when he was chosen Colonel of the Fortieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  Although his more brilliant achievements took place after that time, he had been by no means inactive before, having served in the Bull Run Campaign of 1861 as an aide on General McDowell’s staff, and afterward in the operations at Key West, Florida; Hilton Head, South Carolina, and in the battle of Pocotaligo in South Carolina. He also participated in the attacks on Charleston and the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  After being relieved of the volunteer command in 1865, when the Fortieth Massachusetts was mustered out, he returned to duty with the regular artillery.  He was brevetted a Major for distinguished gallantry in the Civil War.

It was in the Indian Wars after 1870 that General Henry made his greatest reputation as a fighter.  In that year he was assigned to the Third Cavalry, and went to the frontier, where he remained until 1892.  From the first year of his experience in the West General Henry saw plenty of lively fighting, chasing the Apaches over the sandy plains of Arizona or ferreting out the wily Sioux from their lairs in the Dakota hills.  Rough campaigning on horse and on foot fell to his lot, and through it all the men under his command felt that “Fighting Guy” knew the Indians and their ways and they followed him blindly on his daring raids against the redmen.

When Sitting Bull was the terror of the frontiersmen in Dakota and the neighboring States, there was no officer of greater repute than this dashing cavalryman.  He accompanied General Crook in the Big Horn and Yellowstone expeditions as commander of a squadron, and in the battle of Rosebud Creek lost one of his eyes. In this engagement, though shot and apparently dying, he continue to rally his men until his strength gave out and he sunk unconscious on the ground.  The wound that partially deprived him of his sight was made by a 44-calibre ball that penetrated both cheeks, severing the optic nerve; and after the battle his condition was found so perilous that he was sent to California. There he recovered after several months, and later was brevetted a Brigadier General for his bravery in the action.

Many are the incidents related of “Fighting Guy” by his old comrades.  On one occasion in the Fall of 1874 he was in command of a small troop of cavalry that went in pursuit of some Cheyenne Indians who had been setting fire to placed along the frontier in Dakota.  After a brief fight around a village in which the enemy had intrenched themselves, the pursuit led toward the Canadian border, and the Indians rode into a severe storm and camped there.  A large storm of sleet and hail came up, freezing the men’s hands and feet and causing many of the horses to drop in their tracks. One of the subordinate officers ventured to suggest a halt.  “No,” answered Henry, and rode on.  At last, on the following day, a brief halt was ordered, a fire was started and coffee was made.  The surgeon of the expedition went to Henry and reported that five troopers were suffering with frozen feet.

The commander’s reply was: “Help me off with my glove.”  His hand was frozen.  The surgeon said no more and Henry, without permitting any treatment to be applied to the injured member, gave the order to mount. Again the pursuit proceeded, with men dropping by the roadside or enduing the torture as best they could, and a stop was only made when the Canadian boundary line had been reached and the expedition could go no further.
In the Wounded Knee campaign of 1890 and 1891, Henry was Major of the Ninth Cavalry. During that series of engagements he was involved in many fights and always came off with distinction.  Once he rode with three troops to Wounded Knee from Fort Robinson, 118 miles, in less than twenty-five hours, and on another occasion he rescued the Seventh Cavalry from a perilous position where they were entirely surrounded by Indians.  In 1892 he became Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment and in the next year was transferred to the Third Cavalry.  Four years later, in 1897, he was made Colonel of the Tenth Cavalry.

Soon after hostilities began with Spain in 1898, Colonel Henry was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers and on December 7, 1898 he was made Major General of Volunteers, his commission as Brigadier General in the Regular Army having been given him on October 11, soon after his appointment to the corresponding volunteer rank.  He commanded a brigade under General Miles in Puerto Rico and when General Brooke was relieved of the Governorship of the Island he was succeeded by General Henry, who held the position until he was recalled to Washington last May.  Since then he had been awaiting orders and last week he was appointed to the command of the Department of the Missouri.  It was his intention to leave for Omaha several days ago, and his sickness came on in the midst of preparations for the trip.

General Henry’s brevets for distinguished services in the Regular Army were many.  Congress voted him a Medal of Honor for “noteworthy and conspicuous gallantry while Colonel of the Fortieth Massachusetts volunteers, when leading the assaults of his brigade on the enemy’s works at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1, 1864, where he had two horsed shot under him, one while in the act of leaping over the breastworks of the enemy.”

General Henry is survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter, Mrs. James W. Benton.  One of the sons, Major Guy V. Henry, Jr, is in Iloilo.  He was graduated from West Point in 1898 and is now Major of the Twenty-sixth Infantry.  O the older sons, T. Lloyd Henry is in British Columbia and W. Seton Henry is here, having been continually by his father’s bedside, together with Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Benton.

It has been decided to take the body to Washington tomorrow afternoon. It will lie in state in St. John’s Church in that city until Monday morning when the interment will take place in Arlington Cemetery.  There may be a short funeral service here at the family residence, but that point has not been determined, and it is likely that no service except the one at the grave will be held at Washington.  As escort from one of the New York regiments will attend the body to Washington. The body will be escorted from the house to the ferry in this city by National and State troops. Of the latter there will be the Seventh, Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first regiments. An order to the three regiments was issued last night by Brigadier General Smith to assemble in their armories at 10:30 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Troops Escort the Dead Soldier’s Body Through the Streets
Brief Services At The House
Strident Blast of a Bugle Interrupts the Clergyman’s Words
Borne to the National Capital

New York, New York – October 30, 1899 Amid the military pomp and circumstance that he loved so well, the strains of sweet and solemn dirges played by the clear-toned brasses of three martial bands, and the gloom of darkening skies, from which rain poured in intermittent showers, the body of Brigadier General Guy V. Henry, the first American Governor General of Puerto Rico, was bore through the city yesterday between hushed and respectful crowds of citizens on its way to its final resting place in Arlington Cemetery at Washington. It was an imposing spectacle, well calculated to impress, as it did, all who beheld it, the supreme tribute of a mighty city to a warrior who had served the Nation faithfully and well.

The body lay in the morning in a casket covered with black cloth and with silver mountings, in the parlor of General Henry’s home, at 139 Madison Avenue.  The plate bore the simple inscription “General Guy V. Henry, United States Army, Died, October 27, 1899, Age 60 Years.”

Upon the coffin, which was partially covered with the National flag, tributes of beautiful flowers were heaped, and at the foot of the bier sloped in a bank of red and white and green to the floor. The mantel was also banked with blossoms, forming a floral altar, as it were, beside the bier. Only relatives and intimate friends were admitted to the funeral services, which were very brief. They were conducted by Rev. John Huske, assistant rector of St. Thomas’ Protestant Episcopal Church, was robed in his white surplice.  The members of the family present were Mrs. Guy V. Henry, Mrs. J. H. Benton, daughter of the deceased, and W. Seton Henry, son of the deceased.  Two other sons were unable to be present – Guy V. Henry, Jr., who is on his way to the Philippines and T. Lloyd Henry, who is in the West but who is expected to reach Washington in time for the funeral there.

Others in the gathering included the official pallbearers, Colonel John J. Rogers, Fifth Artillery; Colonel J. W. Clous, Deputy Judge Advocate General; Colonel Peter D. Vroom, Inspector General; Lieutenant Colonel Tully McCrea, Fifth Artillery; Lieutenant Colonel Carle A. Woodruff, Seventh Artillery; Lieutenant Colonel John A. Myrick, Second Artillery; Major J. B. Burbank, Fifth Artillery; Captain B. K. Roberts, Fifth Artillery; Lieutenant T. B. Mott, aide-de-camp of General Merritt, representing the commander of the Department of the East and Lieutenant Peter Traub, who was an aide-de-camp of General Henry and was in charge of the funeral arrangements; honorary pallbearers, General A. S. Webb, Colonel D. Appleton, Major Azel Ames, who was a member of General Henry’s staff in Puerto Rico; Major Francis H. Mills, who was chief Civil Engineer of the Department of Puerto Rico; Dr. Herbert Shaw; G. K. Harroun; W. R. Corwine; and Henry Harrison Lewis, General Henry’s literary executor. Also Colonel W. C. Church; Colonel J. H. Patterson, Major Grugan and Major Warner.

At 11 o’clock, while the mourners stood around the coffin, the clergyman read a portion of the burial service.  The service was marked by a striking and impressive incident.  After the solemn reminded of the nothingness and uncertainty of one’s mundane existence, the hopeful promise of a life to come was being given, and as the minister uttered the words “the dead shall sirs” the strident blast of a bugle blown just outside the window broke the stillness, interrupted the minister, and blared its echoing order to the troops massed far up and down the avenue. There was no music in the house. That was to come afterward. But the minister concluded the service by reciting, amid half-suppressed sobs, the hymn, “Brief life is here our position.” Then, after the assembly had taken a last look at the soldier’s face, eight Sergeants of Artillery from Governors Island shouldered the coffin and bore it to the gun carriage waiting without.

Meanwhile Wendel’s second Battery and the Seventy-first, Sixty-ninth and Seventh Regiments, in full uniform, had formed along the avenue from Thirty-fourth Street to Madison Square. They were under the personal command of General George Moore Smith, commander of the Fifth Brigade of the National Guard.  The Seventh had turned out in full force, and with a band of fifty pieces, to do honor to the distinguished officer  who during the greater part of his military career was the friend and instructor of the regiment.  The Seventy-first men also responded readily, but the Sixty-ninth was not strongly represented.


Rank and organization: Colonel, 40th Massachusetts Infantry. Place and date: At Cold Harbor, Virginia, 1 June 1864. Entered service at: Reading Pennsylvania. Birth: Fort Smith, Indian Terrritory (Arkansas). Date of issue: 5 December 1893.


Led the assaults of his brigade upon the enemy's works, where he had 2 horses shot under him.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/27/1899



Guy V. Henry and his son, Guy V. Henry, Jr., during the Spanish-American War, 1898.
Photo courtesy of the United States Army

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