William Henry Penrose

William Henry Penrose, son of an officer of the Regular Army, was born at Madison Barracks, Sacket's Harbor, New York, March 10, 1832. He took an irregular two-year course at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Michigan where he engaged in the profession of civil and mechanical engineering. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, no doubt by virtue of his father's connection with the army, Penrose was appointed a second lieutenant of the 3rd U. S. Infantry. With promotion to first lieutenant on May 14, 1861, he served with his regiment until he was commissioned colonel of the 15th New Jersey Volunteers on April 18, 1863. In the interval he fought on the Peninsula, at Second Manassas in the brigade of Regulars, and at Fredericksburg and was favorably mentioned by his superiors for his conduct. At Chancellorsville, as colonel of the 15th New Jersey, he commanded his regiment and for a time the 1st Brigade of W. T. H. Brooks's division of the VI Corps in the assault and capture of Marye's Heights. He again directed his regiment at Gettysburg where the VI Corps was not heavily engaged. When the spring campaign of 1864 opened, Penrose was at the head of his regiment in the bloody battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House where he succeeded to brigade command. In the Shenandoah Valley campaign directed by Philip Sheridan, Penrose again rendered distinguished service and received several brevet promotions for his conduct. He continued in command of the 1st Brigade of Wheaton's 2nd Division of the VI Corps until the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, and on June 27, 1865, was made a full brigadier general of volunteers. Penrose was mustered out of volunteer service in 1866 and languished as a captain of the 3rd Infantry for seventeen years. He was promoted to major in 1883, lieutenant colonel in 1888, and colonel of the 20th Infantry in 1893—thirty years after his accession to this rank as a volunteer. He transferred to the 16th Infantry the following year and was retired in 1896. He died of typhoid fever in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 29, 1903, and is now 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.