Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Westport Camp #64

Kansas City, Missouri


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Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis

1805 – 1866


             Despite having commanded the Union Army in one of its gravest victories west of the Mississippi, Samuel R. Curtis is little remembered in Civil war annals.  Born in New York and raised in Ohio, he served the obligatory one year after his 1831 graduation from West Point.   He took up civil engineering in Ohio.   He eventually shifted to the law.  Active in the militia, he was Colonel of the 3rd Ohio in the Mexican War.

             Moving to Iowa he took up the dual occupations of law and, again, engineering.  By the outbreak of the Civil War he was serving in his third term in congress, having previously been the mayor of Keokuk, Iowa.   He resigned from congress on 4 August 1861, when he accepted his Brigadier’s commission.

             Serving in Missouri, he commanded at the victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in early March 1862.  By the fall of that year he was in command of the Department of the Missouri and had been a Major General since March 21, 1862.  Eventually he was given charge of the department of Kansas and took part in the repulse of Price’s Missouri invasion in 1864 and in the Battle of Westport.   In the last months of the war he commanded the department of the Northwest.  He was in charge of negotiations with several Indian tribes and assigned to inspecting railroads.  He mustered out on April 30, 1866, and died within eight months.

Source:  Who Was Who In The Civil War, by Stewart Sifakis; Facts on File Publications, New York , 1988.


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