General Adelbert Ames

Civil War Union Brigadier General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, US Senator. Born in Rockland, Maine, as a youth he sailed on clipper ships. In 1856, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, Virginia and graduated fifth in his class in 1861. Commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the 5th United States Regular Artillery, he was immediately sent to the battle lines in Virginia. He was badly wounded at the July 21, 1861 First Battle of Bull Run, but his heroic actions, however, would eventually have him awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1862 he was commissioned as a Colonel of Volunteers and given command of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. Colonel Ames and the 20th Maine fought at the Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. In 1863, he was promoted to Brigadier General, US Volunteers, and commanding a brigade in the Army of the Potomac, which he led at the Battle of Gettysburg (command of the 20th Maine was then given to Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain). He was promoted again during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864, eventually attaining the brevet rank of Major General, US Volunteers. He had an outstanding war record for someone of his age (he was 29 at the end of the war), however, this would be tarnished after the war as he embarked on a "carpet bagging" political career in Mississippi. He would serve as a Republican United States Senator and as Governor of Mississippi during Reconstruction. In 1876, he resigned as Governor to avoid impeachment. He served briefly as a Brigadier General during the Spanish-American War. The son-in-law of controversial Civil War figure Major General Benjamin F. Butler, he died in Florida at age 97, the last surviving full rank general officer of either side of the Civil War. His Medal of Honor citation, awarded to him on June 22, 1894, reads "Remained upon the field in command of a section of Griffin's Battery, directing its fire after being severely wounded and refusing to leave the field until too weak to sit upon the caisson where he had been placed by men of his command."

Adelbert Ames was born in Rockland, Maine, on October 31, 1835. In his youth he became a sailor and was mate on a clipper ship. He left the sea in 1856 to enter the U. S. Military Academy where he was graduated fifth in the class of May 6, 1861. He went almost immediately to the front as a lieutenant of artillery and was badly wounded at First Manassas. This gallantry won him the rank of brevet major in the Regular Army and later the Congressional Medal. Returning to duty, Ames remained in the Washington defenses until the spring of 1862 when he took part in the Peninsular campaign and was brevetted lieutenant colonel for services at Malvern Hill. As colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteers, he led his troops in the Maryland campaign, at Fredericksburg, and at Chancellorsville. On May 20, 1863, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers. While commanding a brigade in the XI (Howard's) Corps at Gettysburg, he received the brevet of colonel in the regular service. During the siege of Petersburg, Ames was in divisional command; he later participated in the capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. For gallantry in this last operation and for meritorious services throughout the war, he was brevetted major general of volunteers and brigadier and major general, U. S. Army. His contribution to the Federal war effort was second to none of his age and experience, but General Ames later embarked upon a political career in Mississippi which ultimately tarnished his Civil War fame. In 1868 he was appointed provisional governor under the Reconstruction acts, and resigned from the army in 1870 to accept election to the United States Senate by the "carpetbag legislature." Four years later he became governor, but after the state was reclaimed by the whites in 1875, Ames offered his resignation to the Democratic legislature in return for the withdrawal of articles of impeachment. He left the state in 1876 to reside in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and later in Florida. His remaining fifty-seven years of life contrasted sharply with those of fame and turbulence in his earlier career. During the Spanish-American War he served briefly as a brigadier general of volunteers. This was his last public service before his death at Ormond, Florida, on April 13, 1933. This last survivor of the full-rank general officers on either side of the conflict was buried in Hildreth Cemetery, Lowell, Massachusetts. General Ames's wife was a daughter of General Benjamin F. Butler.

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