Francis Barretto Spinola

Francis Barretto Spinola was born on March 19, 1821, at Stony Brook, on the north shore of Long Island, New York. After attending an academy in Dutchess County, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1844, and immediately plunged into Democratic politics. He served five years as a Brooklyn alderman, six years as a member of the state assembly, and four as state senator; in 1860 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, South Carolina. Spinola was appointed a brigadier general on October 2, 1862, "for meritorous conduct in recruiting and organizing a brigade of four regiments and accompanying them to the field." During the following winter and spring he took part in a number of minor operations in southeast Virginia and North Carolina while commanding several regiments of Pennsylvania militia. These regiments were recalled to take part in the pursuit of Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, and Spinola was wounded near Manassas Gap during the operation. In March, 1864, prior to the opening of Grant's Overland campaign against Richmond, the number of army corps in the Army of the Potomac was reduced to three, and the troops of the I and III Corps, which had been badly decimated at Gettysburg and in the campaigns of the fall of 1863, were ordered distributed among the II, V, and VI Corps. One of the officers declared supernumerary by George G. Meade and subsequently relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac was General Spinola. After a tour of recruiting duty in New York City, he was court-martialed for "conniving with bounty brokers to defraud and swindle recruits" and sentenced to dismissal. The sentence apparently was not approved, for his resignation from the service was accepted on June 8, 1865. Returning home, he engaged in banking and in the insurance business and resumed his political activities. In 1886, 1888, and 1890 he was elected to Congress as a Democrat and appropriately served as a member of the Committee on Military Affairs and the Committee on War Claims. He was also an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention at Chicago in 1884. General Spinola died in Washington soon after the commencement of his third Congressional term and was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

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