James William Forsyth

James William Forsyth was born in Maumee, Ohio, August 8, 1835. He entered West Point in 1851; taking five years to graduate, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of the 9th Infantry on July 1, 1856. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War his entire military service was performed in Washington Territory. Promoted to first lieutenant on March 15, 1861, he was for two months assistant instructor to a brigade of Ohio volunteers at Mansfield and on October 24 was promoted to captain. During George B. McClellan's Peninsular and Maryland campaigns Forsyth acted as inspector general to the provost marshal general of the Army of the Potomac. At Chickamauga, where he was acting assistant adjutant general on Philip Sheridan's staff, he won the brevet of major. During 1864 and 1865 he was Sheridan's chief of staff; took part in the Richmond and Shenandoah campaigns; and was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers for gallantry at Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek, colonel, U. S. Army for services at Five Forks, and brigadier general, U. S. Army for services during the war. On May 19, 1865, he was given the full rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In 1866 and 1867, after some duty in command of a brigade of cavalry, he was appointed assistant inspector general of the Department of the Gulf. From 1869 until 1873 he was assigned as Sheridan's aide-de-camp in the Division of the Missouri and was in Europe during the Franco-Prussian War; thereafter, until 1878, he was military secretary of the Division of the Missouri. Promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 1st Cavalry in 1878, Forsyth was on frontier duty with his regiment until his promotion to colonel of the 7th Cavalry in 1886 and assignment the following year to the command of Fort Riley, Kansas. In the next three years, while at Fort Riley, he originated and organized the cavalry and light artillery school for instruction which existed until World War II rendered horses obsolete in the army. Less to his credit was his command of the troops at the battle of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota, December 29, 1890, where a pitiful remnant of the once-great Sioux nation was massacred in an action comparable to Lidice. Forsyth was made brigadier general, U. S. Army, in 1894 and commanded the Department of California until May 11, 1897, when he was promoted to major general. Two days later he was retired and went to live in Columbus, Ohio. He died there on October 24, 1906, and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery.

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