George Dashiell Bayard

Union General George D. Bayard        George Dashiell Bayard was born in Seneca Falls, New York, on December 18, 1835. He grew up in a pioneering family in the Iowa Territory. His parents removed to Iowa in his early youth, and he attended a military school kept by Major Dorn. He learned fencing from Colonel Korponay, an exiled Hungarian soldier, and from him acquired the military spirit that led him to seek an appointment as a cadet. Appointed to West Point in 1852, he graduated in 1856 as a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Cavalry, serving with young Lt. James E. B. Stuart. Bayard fought against Indians on the frontiers of Kansas and Colorado for about five years. On the 1860 expedition against the Kiowas and Comanches, he received a severe arrow wound in the face on July 11. The barbed end of the arrow would stay in his face for several months until appropriate medical care could be located at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. Recovered from his hideous and disfiguring wound, Bayard was promoted to first lieutenant in March 1861, and to captain of the now re-designated 4th U.S. Cavalry on August 20, 1861.

        Later in 1861, he was commissioned colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, raised in Philadelphia. His regiment served in the defenses of Washington, D.C. and on the line of the Rappahannock River until the spring campaigns of 1862. Bayard trained and disciplined his volunteer troops by sending them on scouting details in the countryside. During a probe of Confederate bridge defenses outside Falmouth, Virginia, his troops got caught in a trap, and had to fight their way out. Although rifle fire hit his horse three times, Bayard survived the engagement unharmed. As a result of his successful leadership, Bayard was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers on April 28, 1862, and took command of a brigade of cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley, serving throughout Jacksons Valley Campaign. When the Army of Virginia was formed in July, Bayard was appointed chief of cavalry of the III Corps, and served with great distinction in the Second Manassas Campaign. When the Army of the Potomac was restructured that fall, Bayard was promoted to cavalry commander for the Left Grand Division.

Grave of George D. Bayard        With Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnsides appointment to command the Army of the Potomac, Bayard resumed a field command. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, he commanded a six-regiment brigade. On December 13, 1862, while visiting the headquarters of Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, commander of the left wing of Burnsides army, and chatting with a group of officers in the grove he was struck by a shell fragment and mortally wounded; a Confederate round shot tore through his body, carrying away his thighs, a hip, and part of his abdomen. Friends carried him into the house, but doctors could do nothing to save him. He died the next day. Bayard was buried with military honors at Princeton, New Jersey.

        "Gen. George D. Bayard, although but twenty-eight years old when he fell on the field of Fredericksburg, had already shown himself a worthy inheritor of a name distinguished in the annals of the Revolution, and made himself pre-eminent for bravery and skill among the foremost generals of the Army of the Potomac. As leader of cavalry he had been marked, from the beginning of the war, for his wise energy and successful daring, and it was largely to his ability and watchful zeal the army was indebted for its preservation in the disastrous conflicts of the second campaign of Manassas, and the subsequent retreat on Washington, in which he fully merited the honor given him by Gen. Pope in his official notice."

Recommended Reading on General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

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