Henry B. Carrington

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Henry Beebee Carrington
Hbcarrington-150.jpg
Henry B. Carrington
Born (1824-03-02)March 2, 1824
Wallingford, Connecticut
Died October 26, 1912(1912-10-26) (aged 88)
Boston, Massachusetts
Place of burial Fairview Cemetery,
Hyde Park, Massachusetts
Allegiance  United States of America
Union
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1870
Rank Union army brig gen rank insignia.jpg Brigadier General
Commands held 18th U. S. Infantry
Department of the Ohio
Battles/wars American Civil War
Indian Wars
Other work author

Henry Beebee Carrington (March 2, 1824 – October 26, 1912) was a lawyer, professor, prolific author, and an officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War and in the Old West during Red Cloud's War. A noted engineer, he constructed a series of forts to protect the Bozeman Trail, but suffered a major defeat at the hands of the warchief Red Cloud.

Early life[edit]

Carrington was born in Wallingford, Connecticut. An ardent abolitionist in his youth, he was graduated from Yale University in 1845. He was professor of natural science and Greek at the Irving Institute[1] in Tarrytown, New York from 1846 to 1847. Under the influence of the school's founder, Washington Irving, he subsequently wrote Battles of the American Revolution, which appeared in 1876.

In 1847 he studied at Yale Law School, taught school briefly at a women's institute, and the following year moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he practiced his profession in partnership with William Dennison, Jr. (who was to become Governor of Ohio in 1860). Carrington was an active anti-slavery Whig, and helped organize the Republican Party in 1854. He became a close friend and supporter of Governor Salmon P. Chase and was appointed Judge Advocate General by Chase in 1857, charged with reorganizing the state militia.

Civil War service[edit]

Carrington subsequently became adjutant general for Ohio, mustering ten regiments of militia at the outbreak of the American Civil War and organizing the first twenty-six Ohio regiments. He was commissioned the colonel of the 18th U.S. Infantry in May 1861 and established Camp Thomas near Columbus.

In 1862, Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton requested Carrington's assistance to organize the state's levies for service. When he arrived in Indiana, a state of political warfare existed between Morton’s administration and its opponents. Morton had established an intelligence network to deal with rebel sympathizers, Knights of the Golden Circle (Copperheads), Democrats, and anyone opposed to his rule, and Carrington was put at its head. In March 1863, Carrington was promoted to brigadier general and made commander of the District of Indiana of the Department of the Ohio, later renamed the Northern Department.

While Carrington succeeded in breaking up Morton’s enemies, his operatives carried out arbitrary arrests, suppressed freedom of speech and freedom of association, and generally maintained a repressive regime.[citation needed] His intelligence sources were recruited from disgruntled officials and unsolicited informers who gathered hearsay and unreliable information generally more valuable for political than military uses.[citation needed]} Carrington subsequently rejoined his old regiment in the Army of the Cumberland, and completed his war duty in the volunteer army in 1865.

Red Cloud's War[edit]

Following the Civil War, the 18th Infantry was stationed in the West. Carrington was then assigned as commander of the Mountain District, Department of the Missouri, in 1866 and moved his regimental headquarters to Colorado. Assigned to protect the Bozeman Trail, he built and personally manned the remote Fort Phil Kearny during Red Cloud's War. Carrington soon lost the respect of his officers due to his lack of aggressiveness in several Indian skirmishes. In December 1866, a force of up to fifteen hundred Indians attacked a wood-cutting detail, then overwhelmed a reaction force of eighty troops under Captain William J. Fetterman. Fetterman, one of Carrington's antagonists, disobeyed his order not to pursue the Indians too far from the fort. Fetterman’s force was lured into an ambush and annihilated with no survivors. (See Fetterman Fight)

Fetterman’s popularity, coupled with existing distrust of the colonel's leadership, led to rumors that his men had been ordered into the tragedy. General Ulysses S. Grant moved to court-martial Carrington but, at the suggestion of General William T. Sherman, submitted the matter to a court of inquiry, which subsequently exonerated Carrington, as did a separate investigation by the Department of the Interior. Nevertheless, Carrington had been relieved of command immediately after the disaster, so that his military career was effectively ruined.

In 1868, Margaret Carrington published her story about Fort Phil Kearny in a book titled Absaraka, home of the Crows.[2] After Margaret’s death in 1870, Carrington brought out new editions of the book with expanded details of his experiences; the book eventually went through seven editions.[3] In 1870, Carrington retired from active service and was appointed professor of military science at Wabash College in Indiana, serving until 1878 when he moved to Hyde Park in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1871, Carrington married Frances Grummond, the widow of Lt. George W. Grummond who was killed in the Fetterman massacre.

He received the degree of LL. D. from Wabash College in 1873. He briefly returned to the West and was instrumental in drafting a treaty with the Flathead Indians in Montana in 1889. In 1890, he conducted a detailed census of the Six Nations in New York and the Cherokee Nation. In 1908, Carrington and his second wife, Frances C. Carrington, were honored in Sheridan, Wyoming, and Carrington spoke at the Fetterman massacre site memorial. With Carrington's help, Frances authored Army Life on the Plains in 1910, detailing their experiences at Fort Phil Kearny.[4]

Carrington's publications[edit]

  • The Scourge of the Alps (1847)
  • Russia Among the Nations and American Classics (1849)
  • Battles of the American Revolution, 1775-81 (1876)
  • Crisis Thoughts (1878)
  • Battle Maps and Charts of the American Revolution (1881)
  • The Indian Question (1884)
  • Battles of the Bible
  • Boston and New York, 1775 and 1776 (1885)
  • Washington the Soldier (1899)
  • The Exodus of the Flat Head Indians (1902).
  • Absaraka, Home of the Crows: Being the Experience of an Officer's Wife on the Plains (1868) was written by Carrington's first wife, Margaret, and published in at least eight editions, based on a daily journal kept at the suggestion of Gen. William T. Sherman
  • My Army Life and the Fort Phil. Kearney Massacre, With an Account of the Celebration of "Wyoming Opened,". (1910) was written by Carrington's second wife, Frances.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]