James Hughes Stokes

James Hughes Stokes was born probably in Hagerstown, Maryland, in June, 1815. At the time of his appointment to West Point in 1831, he was a resident of Baltimore. He was graduated from the Academy, ranking just ahead of Montgomery Blair and George G. Meade in the class of 1835, and was posted to the artillery. After much arduous duty against the Creeks and Seminoles and participation in the transfer of the Cherokees to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), Stokes accepted a commission as captain in the Quartermaster's Department, but resigned in 1843 to engage in business. From 1858 until 1861 he was an executive of the Illinois Central Railroad, residing in the North Shore suburb of Lake Forest, where he had built a home in 1859. Stokes's principal Civil War exploit was his removal of a stand of twenty-thousand small arms from the St. Louis armory to Springfield, Illinois, after duping by a clever ruse a secessionist mob. The transfer deprived the Rebel party in Missouri of sorely needed munitions, and the arms were delivered to Governor Richard Yates of Illinois for issuance to loyal recruits. Stokes received the thanks of the Illinois legislature for this feat and was then employed as state commissioner to purchase arms for Illinois volunteers. In 1862 Stokes recruited the "Chicago Board of Trade Battery," of which he was elected captain. He was once more mustered into United States service on July 31, 1862. Although nominally only a volunteer battery commander, Stokes took an important part in every fight of the western army from Perryville to Chattanooga, commanding a division of artillery at the time of the storming of Missionary Ridge in November, 1868. The following February he again moved from line to staff and returned to quartermaster duty in the Military Division of the Mississippi, as an inspector with rank of lieutenant colonel. Due to unknown reasons Stokes was mustered out of service on August 22, 1864, as a lieutenant colonel and reappointed the same day as a captain and assistant adjutant general. On July 22, 1865, after the war was over, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and was mustered out for the last time a month later. After the war General Stokes became progressively blind, but he still engaged in real estate business in Chicago until he moved to New York in 1880. He died there on December 27,1890, and is buried in an unmarked grave in Washington Street Cemetery, Geneva, New York, the home of his second wife.

Previous Page

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