James Hewett Ledlie

James Hewett Ledlie was born in Utica, New York, on April 14, 1832. He was educated at Union College in Schenectady and became a civil engineer engaged in railroad construction. Shortly after the outbreak of war he became major of the 19th New York Infantry, subsequently named the 3rd New York Artillery. This regiment, at the expiration of its original term of service, mutinied and 23 of the original 206 offenders were sentenced to the Dry Tortugas. Ledlie was promoted lieutenant colonel, colonel, and then brigadier general on December 24, 1862; the latter rank expired on March 4, 1863, for lack of Senate confirmation. (He was reappointed on October 27, 1863, and in due course confirmed.) Meantime, Ledlie had served unexceptionably on the Carolina coast, commanding an artillery brigade under John G. Foster, and in district and post command at various points in the Federal Department of Virginia and North Carolina. In the course of the fierce fighting around Spotsylvania Court House in May, 1864, Ledlie joined the Army of the Potomac and was assigned to the command of a brigade in Ambrose E. Burnside's IX Corps. The following month, after Petersburg was invested, he became commander of the 1st Division of the corps. At the end of July his division was selected to lead the Federal assault upon the Confederate works after the explosion of the celebrated Union mine. At 4:45 A.M. on the morning of July 30, 170 feet of Confederate entrenchment was disintegrated, creating a "crater" 60 feet across and 30 feet deep. While Ledlie's men struggled to get over their own parapet—no provision had been made for ladders or steps —and while the possession of Petersburg and the end of the war may have rested in the palms of their hands, Ledlie huddled "in a bombproof ten rods in rear of the main line. . . ." In September he was criticized by a court of inquiry, and in December was virtually read out of the service by George G. Meade on U. S. Grant's orders. He resigned on January 23, 1865. After the war he continued his career as a railroad engineer in the west and south. Ledlie died at New Brighton, Staten Island, on August 15, 1882, and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica.

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