Lithograph of Galusha Pennypacker
June 1, 1844|
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
|Died||October 1, 1916
|Place of burial||Philadelphia National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army
|Years of service||1861 - 1883|
Brevet Major General
|Commands held||34th Infantry Regiment
16th Infantry Regiment
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Galusha Pennypacker (June 1, 1844 – October 1, 1916) was a Union general during the American Civil War. He is to this day the youngest person to hold the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army; at the age of 20, he remains the only general too young to vote for the president who appointed him.
Pennypacker was born June 1, 1844 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to a family who had a long history of service in the military. He was raised without having any memory of his parents after his mother died when he was still a baby and his father, who had fought in the Mexican-American War, later became an adventurer in California. His grandfather also served in the military, serving in the American Revolutionary War. Galusha and George Armstrong Custer, two of the youngest generals in the Civil War, were 5th cousins, both being descendents of Paulus Kuster (1643–1707). He was also cousin to General Benjamin Prentiss through the Pennypacker family.
At the age of 16, Pennypacker enlisted as a quartermaster sergeant in the 9th Pennsylvania Infantry from West Chester, Pennsylvania. In August 1861, he helped recruit a company of men for the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry, and was appointed as their Captain. He was promoted to Major the following October. Pennypacker and his regiment saw action in Georgia at Fort Pulaski and in the battles around Charleston. In 1864, his regiment was transferred to Virginia, where he was engaged in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, in which he was wounded at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church. After the Battle of Cold Harbor and during the siege of Petersburg, he was appointed Colonel of his regiment, August 15, 1864. He assumed command of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, X Corps of the Army of the James. He led his brigade into action at the Battle of New Market Heights and was wounded near Fort Gilmer. His brigade was attached to the Fort Fisher Expedition under Alfred Terry.
Pennypacker's greatest moment of the war came at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, January 15, 1865, where he was again severely wounded. His wound was considered fatal and General Terry promised the young officer that he would receive a brevet promotion for his conduct that day. Terry called Pennypacker "the real hero of Fort Fisher" and remarked that without his bravery the fort would not have been taken. He was much later awarded the Medal of Honor, with a citation reading, "Gallantly led the charge over a traverse and planted the colors of one of his regiments thereon, was severely wounded."
He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general dated January 15, 1865. He survived his wounds after 10 months in the hospital and on February 18, 1865, he received a full promotion to brigadier general of volunteers at age 20, making him the youngest officer to hold the rank of general to this day in the United States Army (the Marquis de LaFayette was just 19 when he received his Major General's commission in the Continental Army on 31 July 1777). He was appointed a brevet major general of volunteers on March 13, 1865.
Pennypacker stayed in the Army after the Civil War, being commissioned as Colonel of the 34th U.S. Infantry in July 1866. His regiment merged with the 11th U.S. Infantry in 1869 to become the 16th U.S. Infantry, which he commanded until his retirement in July 1883. He received a brevet promotion to major general in the regular army on March 2, 1867.
Nearly fifty-two years after the Civil War, Pennypacker died from complications of his Civil War injuries. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1916, and is buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery. He died less than a month after the death of his noted cousin, former Pennsylvania Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker. His grave can be found in the officers section, grave 175.
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- "Army Medal of Honor website M-Z". Center of Military History. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- Pennypacker, 1917, p. 4
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- Pennypacker, Isaac Rusling (1917). Galusha Pennypacker: Brigadier General and Brevet Major General, United States Volunteers, Brigadier General and Brevet Major General, United States Army, America's youngest general. Philadelphia: Christopher Sower Co. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- Eicher, John H.; Eicher, David J. (2001). Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
- Warner, Ezra J. (1964). Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
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- "PENNYPACKER, GALUSHA, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient". American Civil War website. November 8, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- "Galusha Pennypacker". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- Marvel, William (June 13, 2011). "Who Was the Youngest Civil War General". Civil War Times. "Galusha Pennypacker's claim to being the Civil War's youngest general doesn't hold up"