Robert Byington Mitchell – Brigadier General, United Staes Army

Robert Byington Mitchell was born at Mansfield, Ohio, April  4, 1823. For some reason it was recorded that he graduated from both Kenyon College, Ohio, and Washington College, Pennsylvania, although neither school has a record of his attendance. By what may be more than a coincidence, General John Grant Mitchell was born in Ohio and was a graduate of Kenyon College.

After studying law in Mount Vernon, he started a practice in Mansfield, and served in the Mexican War as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Ohio Volunteers, and in 1855 he was elected mayor of Mount Gilead, Ohio. The following year moved to Linn County in the Kansas Territory, where he espoused the Free State cause although a Democrat; he served in the territorial legislature, as a delegate to the Leavenworth convention, as treasurer of the territory, and as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1860 in Charleston.

With the outbreak of the Civil War he was commissioned a Colonel of the 2nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry and was badly wounded at the battle of Wilson's Creek in August. The following year Lincoln appointed him a Brigadier General to rank from April 8, 1862, and he was given command of a mixed Brigade at Fort Riley. At the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, in October he commanded the 9th Division of Gilbert's Corps. He was then stationed at Nashville for a number of months and during the Chickamauga Campaign acted as Chief of Cavalry of Thomas' Army of the Cumberland. Just before battle of Chattanooga he was ordered to Washington, D.C. for court martial duty.

The Dictionary of American Biography states that this move was due to “severe wounds which incapacitated him for field duty,” a condition of affairs not borne out by his own published correspondence in the Official Records. During the years 1864 and 1865 he commanded the Distrist of Nebraska, then the District of North Kansas, and finally the District of Kansas.

The same day was honorably mustered out of the Army (January 15, 1866) his nomination to be Governor of New Mexico Territory was confirmed by the Senate, and he took the oath of office on June 6, 1866. “He failed to take his duties either seriously or with dignity, affronted the legislature by leaving Santa Fe and absented himself for months without explanation.” The legislature was forced to the expedient of forwarding bills which it had passed to Washington, D.C. for approval by the Congress.

After substantial other friction developed he resigned in 1869 and returned to Kansas. After an unsuccessful bid for a Congressional seat in 1872, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he died January 26, 1882.  He was buried with full military honors in ection 2, Grave 1023, of Arlington National Cemetery.

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