Edwin Henry Stoughton

Edwin Henry Stoughton was born in the village of Chester, Windsor County, Vermont, on June 23, 1838. He was descended from one Thomas Stoughton, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1630, and was the nephew and namesake of Edwin Wallace Stoughton, later minister to Russia. The younger Stoughton was a member of the first five-year class at West Point, graduating in 1859. After some routine garrison duty in New York Harbor, he was on leave of absence and resigned his commission on March 4, 1861. On September 25 of that year he was appointed colonel of the 4th Vermont by Governor Frederic Holbrook. This regiment was stationed in the defenses of Washington during the first winter of the war and then took part in George B. McClellan's Peninsular campaign in W. T. H. Brooks's division of the VI Corps. From July until November, 1862, Stoughton was on leave of absence, whereupon he was advanced to brigadier general of volunteers with rank from November 5—Stoughton was only twenty-four years of age at the time and the youngest general officer in the service. That winter he commanded a brigade of Vermont regiments on the outer perimeter of the defenses of the capital and in March, 1863, made his headquarters at Fairfax Court House. The Confederate partisan John S. Mosby, who was at this time harrying the Federal patrols and outposts in the vicinity, learned of a break in the picket line between Chan-tilly and Centreville and on the night of March 8, 1863, stole through it with twenty-nine of his men. In the midst of thousands of Union troops he took Stoughton from his bed and rode out of town with thirty-two other prisoners and fifty-eight horses. As Jeb Stuart later characterized it, this was a "feat, unparalleled in the war. . . ." It also blasted Stoughton's career as a soldier. Four days previously his commission as brigadier had expired by operation of law, the Senate failing to act on his nomination. When he was exchanged in May, no move was made to reappoint him in the army or give him another command. He subsequently made his residence in New York City and engaged in the practice of law with his uncle. He died in New York on Christmas Day, 1868, and was buried in Immanuel Cemetery, Rockingham, Vermont, a few miles from his birthplace.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.