Thomas Maley Harris


Thomas Maley Harris was born on June 17, 1817, in Wood County (now Ritchie) on the Ohio River, in that part of Virginia which in 1862 became West Virginia. He studied medicine and in the years before the war practiced his profession at Harrisville and Glenville, Virginia. In the latter part of 1861, Harris aided in recruiting the 10th West Virginia and upon its muster was appointed first its lieutenant colonel and on May 20, 1862, its colonel. The regiment shared in the reverses sustained during Stonewall Jackson's celebrated Shenandoah Valley campaign. In May, 1863, Harris and his regiment were ordered back to West Virginia and attached to William W. Averell's "Fourth Separate" brigade. After participation in some minor operations, it took part in the bloody fight at Cloyd's Mountain in May, 1864, where Confederate General A. G. Jenkins was mortally wounded. That summer Harris commanded a brigade under George Crook during Jubal Early's raid on Washington and subsequently in the Shenandoah Valley campaign, under the leadership of Philip Sheridan, distinguished himself in command of a division of the Army of West Virginia at Winchester and at Cedar Creek. He was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers for his services at the latter battle and on March 29, 1865, was accorded full rank. Meantime, on December 19, 1864, Harris' division was ordered to the Petersburg front, where it was attached to the Army of the James and took part in the final operations against Robert E. Lee's army. After serving on the commission which tried the Abraham Lincoln conspirators, Harris was mustered out in 1866 with the brevet rank of major general for "gallant conduct in the assault on Petersburg." After the war General Harris served one term in the West Virginia legislature, was adjutant general of the state in 1869-70, and was pension agent at Wheeling from 1871 to 1877. In addition he practiced his profession and authored several medical essays and a religious tract entitled "Calvinism Vindicated." He also wrote a very prejudiced account of the Lincoln conspirators' trial, Assassination of Lincoln. He died in Harrisville on September 30, 1906, at the age of ninety, and was buried in the town cemetery.

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