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Edwin Vose Sumner
Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military
January 30, 1797 Edwin Vose Sumner born, Boston, Massachusetts
March 3, 1819 Edwin Vose Sumner enters military service at the rank of Second Lieutenant
March 3, 1855 The United States Army creates the First (Edwin Vose Sumner, Joseph E. Johnston) and Second Cavalry (Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee).
  Robert E. Lee
  Joseph E. Johnston
  Albert Sidney Johnston
  Earl Van Dorn
  George Thomas
  William Hardee
July 4, 1856 Under direct orders from President Franklin Pierce, Edwin Vose Sumner leads 200 infantrymen into Topeka, Kansas, unlimbers his artillery and informs the freestaters they may not hold a convention. Kansas
  Franklin Pierce
  Bleeding Kansas
July 29, 1857 Col. Edwin Sumner attacks 300 mounted Cheyenne at Solomon's Ford in Kansas. Jeb Stuart is wounded in the attack. Kansas
  J. E. B. Stuart
March 16, 1861 Edwin Vose Sumner promoted to Brigadier General and given command of the Department of the Pacific, replacing Albert Sidney Johnston
April 25, 1861 General Edwin Vose Sumner relieves Albert Sidney Johnston as Commander, Department of the Pacific California
  Albert Sidney Johnston
March 8, 1862 Abraham Lincoln, chagrined at George McClellan for not appointing corps commanders, names Edwin Vose Sumnner, Samuel Heintzelman, Erasmus Keyes and Irvin McDowell for him.
  Irvin McDowell
  Abraham Lincoln
  George McClellan
  Samuel Heintzelman
May 31, 1862
June 1, 1862
Battle of Seven Pines [US]
Battle of Fair Oaks [CS]
Virginia
  Joseph E. Johnston
  George McClellan
  Peninsula Campaign
  Battle of Fair Oaks - Seven Pines
  James Longstreet
  John B. Gordon
  Oliver O. Howard
  Daniel Harvey Hill
  Benjamin Huger
  John Sedgwick
  Samuel Garland
  Darius Couch
June 29, 1862 Battle of Peach Orchard
Battle of Orchard Station [Alt.]
Battle of Allen's Farm [Alt.]
Virginia
  Seven Days Retreat
  John Magruder
June 29, 1862 Battle of Savage's Station Virginia
  George McClellan
  Lafayette McLaws
  Seven Days Retreat
  Battle of Savage's Station
September 17, 1862 Battle of Sharpsburg (Confederate)
Battle of Antietam (Union)
Army of the Potomac under McClellan [US] defeats the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee [CS], resulting in the bloodiest day in American history.

Union losses:12,401 men
2,108 dead
9,540 wounded
753 missing
Confederate losses:10, 406
1,546 dead
7,752 wounded
1,108 missing
Maryland
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  Robert E. Lee
  George McClellan
  Stonewall Jackson
  Army of Northern Virginia
  Army of the Potomac
  George Meade
  Lafayette McLaws
  Antietam
November 14, 1862 Ambrose Burnside reorganises the Army of the Potomac command structure into three Grand Divisions with the Right Grand Division under Major Edwin Vose Sumner, Central Grand Division under Joe Hooker and the Left Grand Division under William B. Franklin
  Ambrose Burnside
  Joseph Hooker
  William B. Franklin
November 17, 1862 Burnsides Right Grand Division, under the command of Edwin Vose Sumner arrives north of the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. Virginia
  Fredericksburg
December 13, 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg

General Ambrose Burnside and the Army of the Potomac is soundly beaten by Lee's Army of North Virginia.
  Army of Northern Virginia
  Army of the Potomac
  Robert E. Lee
  Ambrose Burnside
  Lafayette McLaws
  Fredericksburg
  William B. Franklin
  Jubal Anderson Early
  John Reynolds
  Joseph Hooker
March 21, 1863 Corps commander Major General Edwin Vose Sumner dies in Syracuse, NY of natural causes on his way to assume command of the Department of Missouri.


Edwin Vose Sumner

Son-in-law commanded the artillery in Jackson's Corp (Confederate), becoming Robert E. Lee's secretary.
Son-in-law related by marriage to Joseph E. Johnston
Two sons were general officers in the U. S. ranks

Where did "Bull" Sumner's nickname come from?:

Powerfully built, Sumner got his nickname Bull from a bullet that "...bounced off his head..." during the battle of Cerro Gordo in the Mexican American War (Craig Symonds, Joseph E. Johnston)

Bull came from his booming voice, loud enough to be heard over a cavalry charge (Steven Sears, The Gates of Richmond)


Sumner ...was known as "Bull Head" in the old army because a musket ball ... bounced off his head (Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue)


Major General Edwin Vose Sumner was the first commander of the Second Corps in the Civil War
Major General Edwin Vose Sumner
After recruiting men in northwest New York to form a new regiment of dragoons, Captain Edwin Sumner headed west from Buffalo by boat to St. Louis to support the U. S. Army with his mounted infantry. Originally stationed at Jefferson Barracks (south of St. Louis), Captain Sumner earned the respect of a young Mississippi lieutenant, Jefferson Davis, and commanded him as a dragoon. Traveling throughout the Midwest to Fort Gibson, Fort Leavenworth, and the Dragoon Camp at Des Moines, these men assisted in enforcing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, especially after the Indians moved west.

After coming east to Carlisle Barracks (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) as an instructor in 1838, Sumner returned west, exploring the western United States, and at times, southern Canada. A report to the War Department in 1845 had Sumner and his dragoons patrolling between Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods (Canadian territory). It was Major Edwin Sumner who led the charge of the Second Regiment of Dragoons during the battle of Cerro Gordo, securing a bridge over the Plan del Rio in the Mexican American War. He was brevetted to Lt. Colonel for this action. At Molino Del Rey he held his ground against a superior force of mounted Mexicans and was brevetted Colonel. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1848.

After serving two years as military Governor of New Mexico, Sumner was sent to Europe to study the organization and training of various armies. Upon his return in March, 1855, Edwin Vose Sumner received orders from Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, promoting him to colonel and placing him in command of the First Cavalry, a newly formed regiment stationed at Fort Leavenworth. Under him was Lt. Colonel Joseph E. Johnston. Albert Sidney Johnston got the Second Cavalry with Robert E. Lee. Bull Sumner fought many frontier battles at the head of the First Cavalry and commanded Fort Leavenworth, but he made grade based on his friendship with Davis.

During "Bleeding Kansas" Sumner broke up the camp of John Brown following the Battle of Black Jack. One of Sumner's aides, Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, knew Brown from this incident and identified him during the Raid on Harper's Ferry. Sumner received an order directly from the Commander-in-Chief, President Franklin Pierce telling him to quell unrest in Topeka, Kansas. The unrest was at the hands of the Freesoil convention being convened in that city. On July 4, 1856, Sumner rode at the head of a column of 200 men from the First Cavalry, which took a position in front of the convention hall and unlimbered their artillery. The crowd dispersed.

In the summer of 1857 Sumner and John Sedgwick met west of Ft. Kearny, Nebraska to look for a group of Cheyenne Indians. When scouts reported the Indians in front of his column Sumner detached two cavalry units, one to the left and one to the right, and ordered his infantry to make a frontal assault on the mounted Indians. The flank attacks of the cavalry routed the 300 mounted Cheyenne and drove them off. Lieutenant Stuart was wounded in this action.

In 1858 Edwin Sumner became commander of the Department of the West. Sumner had been ordered to escort President-elect Abraham Lincoln from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington D. C. for his inauguration when David Twiggs surrendered the U. S. forces in Texas. Sumner was promoted to Brigadier General and put in command of Twigg's remaining U. S. forces. When Albert Sidney Johnston resigned his post as commander of the Department of the Pacific because his native Texas had seceded from the Union, James Buchanan tapped Sumner to replace Johnston.

Returning to the east as a division commander at his own request, Abraham Lincoln personally selected Edwin Sumner as commander of the II (2nd) Corps because Army of the Potomac commander George McClellan steadfastly refused to name the men he wanted.

During the Peninsula Campaign, following the Siege of Yorktown McClellan took Sumner's 2nd Corps to move against West Point, Virginia. Sumner, McClellan's second-in-command, took charge of the Third (Heintzelman) and Fourth Corps (Keyes). Only one division of each corps had reached the Confederate line, putting two generals too many in charge of two divisions. During the subsequent Battle of Williamsburg, a rear-guard action by James Longstreet, Sumner nearly lost the battle when Longstreet advanced, but he ordered Winfield Scott Hancock to out-flank the Confederates from a knoll to the right (north) of the fort at the end of the day and put an end to Longstreet's actions.

Perhaps the high point of Sumner's Civil War career came during the Battle of Seven Pines. With Daniel Harvey Hill pushing Erasmus Keyes 4th Corps backwards with a vicious frontal assault, Sumner on his own initiative ordered General John Sedgwick to advance in support of Keyes. Sedgwick crossed the Chickahominy and stumbled onto a massive Confederate attack just then advancing on a Union garrison inside Fair Oaks Station that included Brigadier General Silas Casey. Sedgwick halted the advance and turned back the Confederates, ending any hope of victory. Sumner was brevetted major general for his actions.

During the Battle of Oak Grove, first in a series of battles called the Seven Days Retreat, Sumner advanced down Nine Mile Road, taking Old Tavern on a high knoll east of Richmond, the objective of the battle although his troops were only lightly engaged. He was assigned rear guard duty after the Union loss at Gaines Mill, engaging the Rebels at Orchard Station and Savage Station. Although he was almost completely surrounded, Sumner refused to withdraw from Savage Station until ordered to do so by George McClellan. Sumner was defending a Union Army field hospital with more than 2,500 wounded and sick soldiers.

At Antietam the 2nd Corps was heavily involved in the fighting near Dunker Church and Bloody Lane. Sumner personally led a column of John Segdwick's division into the fighting near the church. During this engagement, reserves ordered to support John Bell Hood and Jubal Early struck Segdwick's unprotected left flank, driving the entire corps back in disarray. Sumner was heavily critized for this failure at Antietam and for his personal involvement in the battle. At Fredericksburg he was in command of Ambrose Burnsides Right Grand Division consisting of the 2nd and 9th Corps. Burnside, aware of the criticism hurled at Sumner for leading his men at Antietam, ordered Sumner to stay across the Rappahanock River from the Battle of Fredericksburg. His men were responsible for the attack from the city against the Sunken Road.

In the original battle plan, William B. Franklin was to push Stonewall Jackson's Corps back, leaving both flanks of the Sunken Road open. In reality, the left flank of the Rebel line was protected by a swamp and Jackson's Corps was never driven from the field. Sumner's men had to cross an open field to two bridges over a canal, then assault an entrenched line. From noon until dusk his men, as well as some of Joseph Hooker's Central Grand Division assaulted the Sunken Road.

Charges and countercharges followed the federal disaster at Fredericksburg and Sumner requested he be reassigned. He was relieved of duty and returned home to Syracuse, New York. While on leave he received new orders putting him in charge of the Department of Missouri but died in his sleep before he left Syracuse to assume command.

Links appearing on this page:

1855
1856
Abraham Lincoln
Albert Sidney Johnston
Ambrose Burnsides
Antietam
Army of the Potomac
Battle of Oak Grove
Battle of Seven Pines
Battle of Williamsburg
Bleeding Kansas
Daniel Harvey Hill
Franklin Pierce
Generals in Blue
George McClellan
J. E. B. Stuart
James Buchanan
James Longstreet
Jefferson Davis
John Bell Hood
John Sedgwick
John Segdwick
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Hooker
Jubal Early
July 4
Mexican American War
Peninsula Campaign
Pennsylvania
Raid on Harper's Ferry
Robert E. Lee
Seven Days Retreat
Siege of Yorktown
Stonewall Jackson
The Gates of Richmond
William B. Franklin
Winfield Scott Hancock

Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military

Edwin Vose Sumner was last changed on - November 14, 2007
Edwin Vose Sumner was added on - April 26, 2006




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