Joseph Farmer Knipe

Joseph Farmer Knipe, whose ancestors came from Mannheim, Germany, to America before the Revolution, was born in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, March 30, 1823. After a rudimentary education in the schools of Mannheim and Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he learned the trade of shoemaker in Philadelphia, and in 1842 enlisted as a private in the Regular Army. Soon after he took part in the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island, a minor episode of American history, and then fought in the Mexican War. From 1848 until the outbreak of the Civil War he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in Harrisburg. During the first call of 75,000 volunteers "to suppress illegal combinations," Knipe served as a brigade inspector of Pennsylvania militia and was commissioned colonel of the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on August 1, 1861. With this regiment he fought under General N. P. Banks in the Shenandoah and at Cedar Mountain where he was wounded. In the Maryland campaign Knipe led a brigade of the XII Corps after the fatal wounding of General Joseph K. F. Mansfield. During the Gettysburg campaign, still not recovered from the wound received at Cedar Mountain, he served with the hapless Pennsylvania militia called out against veteran Confederates for the occasion. Ordered to Tennessee after the Chickamauga defeat, with the XI and XII Corps under Joseph Hooker (a command which, decimated at Gettysburg, was combined to become the XX Corps), Knipe took part in all the battles leading up to the fall of Atlanta, commanding for a time the 1st Division of the XX Corps. Long before this on April 15, 1863, he had been promoted brigadier general of volunteers to rank from November 29, 1862. He was later sent to Memphis to reorganize and recruit cavalry deserters and having accomplished this duty, reported to General G. H. Thomas in Nashville only to find the city besieged by J. B. Hood's Confederates. By assignment of Thomas, Knipe commanded a division of J. H. Wilson's Cavalry Corps which won a decisive victory during the retirement of Hood's ragged legions at the battle of Nashville, Knipe being credited with the capture of six thousand men and eight flags. He received no brevet promotions, but in 1866 was appointed postmaster of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by President Johnson, an office which he occupied until the election of Ulysses S. Grant, by whom he was immediately displaced. Thereafter he occupied a number of state and federal posts in Washington, Kansas, and Pennsylvania, where he died, in Harrisburg, August 18, 1901. General Knipe was buried in Old Harrisburg Cemetery.

Previous Page

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