Oliver Otis Howard is most remembered as a
soldier. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1850, he attended the US Military
Academy at West Point, and graduated in 1854.
teaching mathematics at West Point when the Civil War
broke out. He was placed in command of the 3d Maine
Regiment, which he led at the First Battle of Bull Run.
Although his troops left the field in disorder, Howard
served well enough to earn a promotion to brigadier
Howard was a devout Christian, and tried to
prevent his troops from drinking and gambling.
In May of
1862, he served in the Battle of Seven Pines, for which
he was awarded a medal of honor in 1893. Wounded in the
battle, he had to have his right arm amputated.
his recovery, he was placed in command of a division at
the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, and was
promoted to major general on November 29, 1862.
led the XI Corps at Chancellorsville, where he was
routed by Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall"
Jackson, and contributed to the Union defeat.
Gettysburg, Howard briefly served as senior commander,
and selected Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge as sites
on which Union forces could anchor their position. He
received a thanks of Congress citation for this action.
In the Atlanta Campaign, Howard commanded the IV Corps,
under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, and commanded the
Army of the Tennessee during the March to the Sea and
the Carolinas Campaign.
After the Civil War ended,
President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton chose
Howard to be the head of the Freedmen's Bureau. He
maintained high standards of action in the Bureau, but
refused to acknowledge the shady dealings of some of his
staff. Thus, the agency became corrupt, and Howard was
brought before a court of inquiry in 1874. Nevertheless,
he was cleared of all charges against him, and he
continued working to improve the lives of African
He went on to help found Howard University in
In the late 1870s and 1880s, he fought
against Native Americans in the West, and served as
superintendent of the US Military Academy.
a major general in the Regular Army in 1886, Howard took
command of the Division of the East.
He retired in 1894,
and spent his last years living in Burlington, Vermont;
working for religious and educational causes and helping
found Lincoln Memorial University, at Harrogate,
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