George Foster Shepley

George Foster Shepley was born on January 1, 1819, in Saco, Maine. His father Ether Shepley was a pioneer in the state and served as United States Senator and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at various times. Young Shepley was graduated from Dartmouth at the age of eighteen; he studied law and started a practice at Bangor when he was only twenty. In 1848 he was appointed United States district attorney for the state (a position which his father had also held), but was ousted by the Whigs upon the accession of Zachary Taylor the following March. He was reappointed by Franklin Pierce in 1853 and served until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Meantime Shepley had formed a close friendship with Benjamin F. Butler while attending the 1860 Democratic National Convention at Charleston where both were delegates, Shepley supporting Stephen A. Douglas, and Butler, Jefferson Davis. Shepley was commissioned colonel of the 12th Maine Infantry in November, 1861, and accompanied Butler's forces in the expedition against New Orleans the following spring. After the capture of the city on May 1, 1862, Butler made Shepley post commander at New Orleans, military governor of Louisiana in June, and effected his promotion to brigadier general in July to rank from the eighteenth. Shepley continued in this capacity until the spring of 1864, when the "reorganized electorate of the state," comprising the Union minority, elected Governor Michael Hahn. Meanwhile, it must be admitted that a fair share of the blame for the excesses charged to Butler's rule should be born by Shepley, who was his right-hand man. At the beginning of the spring campaign of 1864 in Virginia, Shepley was assigned to the supervision of the District of Eastern Virginia, under his old superior. At the close of the war he operated as chief of staff to General Godfrey Weitzel, who recommended him for promotion (which he did not receive), and became military governor of Richmond upon its occupation by the XXV Corps in April, 1865. He resigned his commission in July and returned to his law practice. In 1869 General Shepley was appointed United States circuit court judge for the state of Maine by President Grant. He died in Portland, Maine, reportedly of Asiatic cholera, on July 20, 1878, and was buried there in Evergreen Cemetery.

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