Robert Buying Mitchell

Robert Byington Mitchell was born in Mansfield, Ohio, April 4, 1823. For some reason it has been recorded that he graduated from both Kenyon College, Ohio, and Washington College, Pennsylvania, although neither school has a record of his attendance. After studying law in Mount Vernon, he started a practice in Mansfield, served in the Mexican War as a lieutenant in the 2nd Ohio, and in 1855 was elected mayor of Mount Gilead, Ohio. The following year he moved to Linn County in the Kansas Territory, where he espoused the Free State cause although a Democrat; he served in the territorial legislature, as a delegate to the Leavenworth constitutional convention, as treasurer of the territory, and as delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1860 in Charleston. With the outbreak of the Civil War Mitchell was commissioned colonel of the 2nd Kansas Infantry and was badly wounded at the battle of Wilson's Creek in August. The following year Lincoln appointed him a brigadier general to rank from April 8, 1862, and he was given command of a mixed brigade at Fort Riley. At the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, in October he commanded the 9th Division of Gilbert's corps. He was then stationed at Nashville for a number of months and during the Chickamauga campaign acted as chief of cavalry of Thomas' Army of the Cumberland. Just before the battle of Chattanooga he was ordered to Washington for court-martial duty. During the years 1864 and 1865 General Mitchell commanded the district of Nebraska, then the district of North Kansas, and finally the district of Kansas. The same day he was honorably mustered out of the army (January 15, 1866) his nomination to be governor of New Mexico Territory was approved by the Senate, and he took the oath of office on June 6, 1866. "He failed to take his duties either seriously or with dignity . . . affronted the [legislature] by leaving Santa Fe .. . and absenting himself for . . . months without . . . explanation." The legislature was forced to the expedient of forwarding bills which it had passed to Washington for approval by Congress. After substantial other friction had developed he resigned in 1869 and returned to Kansas. After an unsuccessful bid for a Congressional seat in 1872, he moved to Washington, where he died on January 26, 1882. General Mitchell is 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.