John Converse Starkweather
John Converse Starkweather was
born in Cooperstown, New York, on May 11, 1830. After attending local schools
and Union College, Schenectady, from which he was graduated in 1850, he studied
law and was admitted to the bar. Shortly thereafter he moved to Milwaukee where
he practiced until 1861. In May, 1861, Starkweather was designated colonel of
the 1st Wisconsin Infantry, a regiment enlisted originally for three months but
which was reenlisted and re-mustered for three years in October. Starkweather
took part in the affair at Edwards' Ferry and after reenlistment was sent to
At Perryville in October he commanded a brigade of L. H. Rousseau's division of Alexander McD. McCook's corps and continued in command of the same brigade at Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga, receiving the promotion to brigadier general on July 17, 1863. Although it is sometimes stated that he "participated . . . in the capture of Atlanta," he was in fact assigned to command of the post of Pulaski, Tennessee, on May 16, 1864, and remained in that vicinity until he ran afoul of Nathan B. Forrest, who captured or dispersed a large part of his command during the celebrated Confederate cavalryman's raid into northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee in the autumn of 1864. In December, Starkweather applied for duty with Philip Sheridan, who bluntly rejected the application. Earlier that year Starkweather had been a member of the court-martial which tried and dismissed Surgeon General W. A. Hammond, which accounts for Edwin M. Stanton's supplicating Sheridan to accept Starkweather for assignment. A further command not forthcoming, General Starkweather resigned his commission on May 11, 1865, and returned to Milwaukee. He combined farming and the practice of law there for a time, but ascertaining that prospects were brighter in the vicinity of the capital, moved to Washington, where attorneys with the title of General, who could prosecute claims against the government for damages, pensions, and other matters, were greatly in demand. He practiced law there until his death on November 14, 1890. His body was returned to Milwaukee for interment in Forest Home Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.