George Day Wagner

George Day Wagner was born on September 22, 1829, in Ross County, Ohio, but at the age of four was taken by his parents to Warren County, Indiana, where the family settled on a farm. Young Wagner was raised on the farm and received his education in the country schools. In 1856 he was elected to the lower house of the Indiana legislature as a Republican, two years later to the state senate, and in 1860 campaigned vigorously for Abraham Lincoln. When the Civil War broke out Wagner immediately offered his services and was commissioned colonel of the 15th Indiana on June 14, 1861. After some service in West Virginia he commanded a brigade of D. C. Buell's Army of the Ohio at Shiloh and was commended by his division commander T. J. Wood. He again rendered good service at the battle of Murfreesboro and during the battle of Chickamauga was commander of the post of Chattanooga. On April 4, 1863, he was commissioned brigadier general to rank from November 29, 1862. In the assault on the heights of Missionary Ridge in November, 1863, Wagner's brigade (a part of Sheridan's division of Granger's corps) suffered seven hundred casualties while sweeping Braxton Bragg's Confederates off the mountain. Wagner continued as a brigade commander in the IV Corps in the Atlanta campaign and was sent back to Tennessee with G. H. Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland to oppose John B. Hood's invasion of the state in the autumn of 1864. At Franklin on November 30 Wagner was in command of a division of the IV Corps which formed the rear guard of John M.Schofield's retiring forces; a part of this division was entrenched a halfmile in advance of the main Union position with orders to retire whenever Hood evidenced a disposition to advance in force. In what was claimed to be disobedience of orders, Wagner elected to make a stand, and, when the position was overrun, the assaulting Rebels very nearly followed the remnants of Wagner's two brigades into the Federal works. On December 9, 1864, he was relieved from further duty with the Army of the Cumberland at his own request, allegedly because of his wife's illness, and ordered to Indianapolis to await orders. He was honorably mustered out on August 24, 1865, without brevet promotion. After the death of his wife that year, General Wagner began a law practice in Williamsport, Indiana. He had been president of the state agricultural society just before the war and once again served in this position. He died suddenly in Indianapolis on February 13, 1869, and was buried in Armstrong Cemetery, near Greenhill, Warren County, Indiana, a few miles from the farm where he grew to manhood.

Previous Page

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