Julius White

Julius White was born on September 23, 1816, in Cazenovia, New York. He moved to Illinois at the age of twenty and seems to have engaged in a variety of commercial pursuits both in Illinois and Wisconsin. In 1849 he was a member of the Wisconsin legislature, and, upon the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1861, White was appointed collector of customs in Chicago, where he was then living. He resigned this post to become colonel of the 37th Illinois Infantry, a regiment which he had recruited in the Chicago area, called the "Fremont Rifles." At the battle of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge) he commanded a brigade in Jefferson C. Davis' division and on June 9, 1862, was promoted to brigadier general. The following September he was involved in the surrender of Harpers Ferry during Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland. White, ignorant of the terrain and its defenders, had offered to waive rank so that Colonel Dixon Miles, an old Regular, could continue in command. The latter's defense of the position was substandard, according to any critique, and freed Stonewall Jackson's troops to turn the tide at Sharpsburg in the nick of time to avert a Confederate catastrophe. White was subsequently put in arrest, but, when the examining commission published their findings, was not only exonerated but commended for "decided capability and courage." In January, 1863, he was assigned to duty in the Department of the Ohio and under General Ambrose E. Burnside commanded a division of the XXIII Corps at Knoxville in the autumn of 1863. After Burnside's recall to the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1864, White served as his chief of staff until the Petersburg Mine disaster. When Burnside left the army, White was given command of the 1st Division of the IX Corps (this division was later broken up and its regiments distributed to the 2nd and 3rd Divisions). Shortly after, General White went on sick leave and apparently did not rejoin the army. His resignation was accepted by the War Department on November 19, 1864; however, as of March 13, 1865, he was brevetted major general—a rather unusual circumstance and a testimonial to the esteem in which he must have been held by his superiors. In the years after the war White seems to have enjoyed only modest financial success; however, he was active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and for a time served as its Illinois commander. He died in Evanston, Illinois, on May 12, 1890, and was buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.

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