Joseph Jones Reynolds


Joseph Jones Reynolds was born in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, on January 4, 1822, but when he was fifteen his parents moved across the Ohio River to Lafayette, Indiana. The next year he entered Wabash College at Crawfordsville; a year thereafter, however, he was appointed to West Point. He was graduated in the class of 1843, which included U. S. Grant, with whom Reynolds remained on friendly terms. After some garrison duty and serving in the military occupation of Texas just prior to the war with Mexico, he was assigned as an instructor at the Academy, where he taught for eight years. He then did frontier duty in the Indian Territory until he submitted his resignation as first lieutenant, 3rd Artillery, in 1857. In the next four years he taught engineering at Washington University, St. Louis, and engaged in the grocery business in Lafayette. Immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities in 1861, Reynolds was appointed colonel of the 10th Indiana (militia), then brigadier general of Indiana volunteers, and on June 14, 1861, to rank from May 17, brigadier general, U. S. Volunteers. He commanded at Cheat Mountain under W. S. Rosecrans in September, but resigned the following January because of the death of a brother with whom he was in partnership. While out of the service he aided in organizing Indiana troops and was again appointed a brigadier on September 17, 1862, and a major general of volunteers on November 29. He commanded a division of the XIV Corps at Chickamauga, and on October 10, 1863, was made chief of staff of G. H. Thomas' Army of -the Cumberland, a position he held until after the battle of Chattanooga. In January, 1864, Reynolds was put in charge of the New Orleans defenses, and in July he took command of the XIX Corps and organized the campaign against Mobile. From November, 1864, until April, 1866, he commanded the Department of Arkansas; he became colonel of the 26th Infantry upon the expansion of the Army in July, 1866, and was brevetted brigadier and major general, U. S. Army, on March 2, 1867. He transferred to the 3rd Cavalry in 1870 and commanded occupation forces in the southwest, including the Department of Texas, until he was relieved of command in 1872 and ordered to rejoin his regiment. In 1871 he was elected U. S. Senator by the carpetbag legislature in Texas, but his seat was successfully contested by a brother of General A. J. Hamilton. He next commanded at various points in Nebraska and Wyoming. Reynolds was commanding the advance of Crook's expedition when it attacked and captured a Sioux village on the Powder River on March 17, 1876. He prematurely ordered a retreat, leaving his dead and a wounded private in the hands of the Indians who "promptly cut the [private] limb from limb." Some time later Reynolds' conduct, along with that of certain other officers, was the subject of a general court-martial. Subsequently, he resigned, his army career wrecked. After his retirement he established a residence in Washington, where he died on February 25, 1899; he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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