Medal of Honor Citation:
Rank and Organization: Colonel, 65th New York Infantry.
Place and Date: At Marye's Heights, Va., 3 May 1863.
Entered Service At: New York, N.Y.
Born: 19 March 1827, Haddam, Conn.
Date of issue 25 November 1893.
At a most critical moment, the head of the charging column being about to be crushed by the severe fire of the enemy's artillery and infantry, he pushed forward with a supporting column, pierced the enemy's works, and turned their flank.
Alexander Shaler was born March 19, 1827, in Haddam, Connecticut, but was brought to New York City at the age of seven. He was educated in private schools and seems to have inherited a private income, since his principal avocations before and after the war were the New York National Guard and various non-remunerative positions of public trust. At the age of eighteen he joined the "Washington Grays," later the 8th New York Militia, and subsequently rose to be major of the famous 7th New York Militia, which was brought to Washington a few days after the fall of Fort Sumter and remained about six weeks. On June 11 he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 65th New York Volunteer Infantry, originally called the 1st U. S. Chasseurs. Shaler served continuously with the Army of the Potomac and was engaged in every important battle of that army until the spring of 1864; he received promotion to colonel after the battle of Malvern Hill and to brigadier general on May 26, 1863. After Sharpsburg the division of the IV Corps in which he had been serving was attached to the VI Corps, and after Fredericksburg he succeeded to command of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division of the corps. During the winter of 1863 Shaler was in charge of the Confederate prison on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay, but returned to the army in time to take part in the battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, where he was captured. He was probably the only officer who had commanded a Union stockade for Confederate prisoners to find himself an inmate of a Confederate stockade for Union prisoners. After his exchange he was ordered to report to Edward R. S. Canby in New Orleans, and in the last months of the war he was in charge of a division of the VII Corps and of the White River District in Arkansas. He was mustered out in August, 1865, with the brevet of major general and in 1893 was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in storming Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg during the campaign of Chancellorsville. After the war General Shaler held a multiplicity of public offices, including the presidency of the New York City fire department and the health department. He also belonged to innumerable clubs and societies and was active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, serving as head of the New York commandery. During his last years he made his residence in Ridgefield, New Jersey. He died in New York City, December 28, 1911, and was buried in Ridgefield.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.