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Gordon Granger, photo taken during American Civil War
November 6, 1821|
Joy, Wayne County, New York
|Died||January 10, 1876
Santa Fe, New Mexico
|Place of burial||Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky|
|Allegiance||United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army
|Years of service||1845–1876|
|Commands held||Army of Kentucky
Department of Texas
District of New Mexico
Early life & Mexico
Granger was born in Joy, Wayne County, New York, in 1821. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1845. During the Mexican-American War, he fought in Winfield Scott's army. Between wars, he served on the western frontier.
Civil War service
Granger first saw action in the Civil War at the Union defeat at Wilson's Creek, Missouri, in August 1861 serving as a staff officer to General Nathaniel Lyon.  He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 26, 1862, and commanded the Cavalry Division in the Army of the Mississippi during the Battle of New Madrid and the Siege of Corinth. He was promoted to major general of volunteers on September 17, 1862, and took command of the Army of Kentucky. He conducted cavalry operations in central Tennessee before his command was merged into the Army of the Cumberland, becoming the Reserve Corps.
He is most famous for his actions commanding the Reserve Corps at the Battle of Chickamauga. There on September 20, 1863, the second day of the battle, he reinforced, without orders, Major General George H. Thomas's XIV Corps on Snodgrass Hill. This action staved off the Confederate attackers until dark, permitting the Federal forces to retreat in good order and helping earn the sobriquet "Rock of Chickamauga" for Thomas.
Granger's success at Chickamauga earned him command of the newly formed IV Corps in the Army of the Cumberland. Under his command, this force distinguished itself at the third Battle of Chattanooga. Two of the IV Corps' divisions, those commanded by Thomas J. Wood and Philip Sheridan, were among the force of units that assaulted the reinforced center of the Confederate line on top of Missionary Ridge. There, the Union forces broke through and forced the Confederates, under General Braxton Bragg, to retreat. After Chattanooga, Granger took part in lifting the siege at Knoxville, Tennessee. Despite these successes, his outspokenness prevented him from gaining more prominent commands. Nevertheless, he was sent to the Department of the Gulf, and continuing to lead troops and gain recognition. He commanded the land forces that captured Forts Gaines and Morgan in conjunction with the Union naval victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Granger commanded the XIII Corps during the Battle of Fort Blakely, which led to the fall of the city of Mobile, Alabama.
When the war ended, Granger remained in the Army, and was given command of the Department of Texas. On June 19, 1865 in the city of Galveston, one of the first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order No. 3 which began with:
The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection therefore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.
This set off joyous demonstrations by freedmen and originating the annual "Juneteenth" celebration, which commemorates the freeing of the blacks in Texas.
- Eicher, p. 263.
- NY Times, August 18, 1861
- Dupuy, p. 290
- "JUNETEENTH WORLD WIDE CELEBRATION". juneteenth.com. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
- Dupuy, Trevor N., Curt Johnson, and David L. Bongard. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. ISBN 978-0-06-270015-5.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
- Conner, Robert C., "General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind 'Juneteenth'". Philadelphia: Casemate, 2013. ISBN 978-1-61200-185-2.
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