George Archibald McCall

George Archibald McCall, one of the oldest West Point graduates to perform active field duty during the Civil War, was born in Philadelphia on March 16, 1802. Twenty years and three months later he became the 311th graduate of the Military Academy and was posted to the 1st Infantry. Much of his early military career was spent in Florida where he was employed almost continuously until 1842 against the warlike Seminoles, for five years serving as aide-de-camp to General Edmund P. Gaines. During the Mexican War, McCall, who was by then a captain of the 4th Infantry, was brevetted major and lieutenant colonel for gallantry at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in Zachary Taylor's army. In 1850 after a leave of absence in Europe and promotion to major of the 3rd Infantry, he was named one of the two inspectors general with the staff rank of colonel of the army. McCall resigned his army commission in 1853 to retire to his country estate, Belair, near West Chester, Pennsylvania, but volunteered for duty again when the shooting started in 1861. Commissioned major general of Pennsylvania Volunteers by Governor Andrew G. Curtin on May 15, 1861, he was made brigadier general of U. S. Volunteers two days later by President Lincoln, and subsequently commanded "the Pennsylvania Reserves" as a division of the Army of the Potomac. He planned the operation against Dranesville, Virginia, in December, 1861. And at Mechanicsville, Virginia, during George B. McClellan's Peninsular campaign in the spring of 1862, perhaps Mc-Call's most notable exploit of the war was his forming the advance of Porter's V Corps as they opposed the assault of A. P. Hill's Confederates across the Chickahominy in June, 1862. A few days later on June 30, he was taken prisoner at the battle of Glendale (Frayser's Farm) when he rode into the 47 th Virginia while attempting to reconnoiter his position without staff officers. Confined in Libby Prison, Richmond, until August 18, 1862, he was paroled and exchanged for Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, who had been taken prisoner at Fort Donelson. After his release McCall was on sick leave until he resigned March 31, 1863. He retired to Belair where he died on February 26, 1868. He was buried in Christ Church Cemetery, Philadelphia.

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