James Meech Warner

James Meech Warner, whose earliest direct ancestor came to Massachusetts Bay from England in 1630, was born January 29, 1836, in Middlebury, Vermont. He attended Middlebury College from 1851 to 1855, when he accepted an appointment to the Military Academy (then offering a five-year course); he was graduated in 1860, ranking next to the bottom of the class—a scholastic level which came to be something of a trademark of successful combat officers in the 1861-65 period. Posted originally as a subaltern to the 10th Infantry, he performed most of his antebellum duty at Fort Wise (later Fort Lyon), Colorado, near the site of Bent's Old Fort on the Arkansas River, and during the first six months of 1862 he was in command of the station. In July he was relieved and ordered east, becoming colonel of the 11th Vermont Infantry to rank from September 1, 1862, by commission of Governor Frederic Holbrook. The 11th Vermont was installed in the defenses of Washington and, in keeping with the War Department policy of the time, was made into a heavy artillery regiment of twelve companies numbering nearly two thousand men. When U. S. Grant called for re-enforcements following his heavy losses in the Wilderness, the 11th Vermont was sent to Belle Plain as infantry and joined the decimated Vermont brigade with fifteen hundred men in line, outnumbering the rest of the brigade by several hundred. Accordingly, it was divided into battalions, commanded by its three majors, and was maneuvered like three regiments. Soon after the command was brought into line at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, it was subjected to a severe fire by Confederate artillery. Warner, while walking up and down on the earthworks to encourage his men, was struck by a ball through his neck. He returned to action in time to command a segment of the Washington defenses during Jubal Early's raid in July, 1864 and, thereafter, performed distinguished service in the Shenandoah Valley under Philip Sheridan. Besides his contribution to the success of the Union cause at Fisher's Hill (following the battle of Winchester), which his brigade carried by a bayonet charge, his conduct was outstanding at Cedar Creek where the 1st Brigade formed the extreme right of the army and, along with the rest of Getty's division of the VI Corps, was the only organized infantry in line of battle when Sheridan arrived on the field. At Petersburg on the morning of April 2, 1865, he was said to be the first mounted man inside the Confederate works. He had been brevetted a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from August 1, 1864, and at the end of the war was advanced to the full rank (from May 8, 1865) and was also brevetted brigadier general, U. S. Army. General Warner resigned from the army early in 1866 to engage in business in Albany, New York. He was postmaster of the city during Benjamin Harrison's administration and was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor on the Republican ticket. He died of a stroke on March 16, 1897, while attending the theater in New York City; he was buried in Middlebury.

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