James Lowry Donaldson

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James Lowry Donaldson
Born (1814-03-17)March 17, 1814
Baltimore, Maryland
Died November 4, 1885(1885-11-04) (aged 71)
Baltimore, Maryland
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1836–1874
Rank Brigadier General

Second Seminole War
Mexican-American War

American Civil War

Other work author

James Lowry Donaldson (March 17, 1814 – November 4, 1885) was an American soldier and author. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War and was noted for his proficiency in military logistics.


Donaldson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to James Donaldson Lowry and Mary Purviance Cox within a prominent Baltimore family. His father was a practicing attorney in Baltimore City, a member of the House of Delegates in Annapolis, and the first fallen officer at the Battle of North Point during the War of 1812. On September 1, 1832, he was appointed from Maryland to the United States Military Academy, graduating in 1836. Brevetted a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery, he was sent to the West on garrison duty, where his profiency in logistics and supply management was first noted.

He later served with distinction as a first lieutenant in the Second Seminole War in Florida and then in the 1st U.S. Artillery during the Mexican-American War, where he was distinguished at the Battle of Buena Vista. Promoted to Major (United States) for gallantry in action, he then served in a variety of frontier outposts, including as the quartermaster at the military camp on Pawneee Fork in Kansas from 1859–60. He led a wagon train of supplies through hostile Indian country into New Mexico Territory.

When the Civil War erupted, Donaldson was the Chief Quartermaster for the Department of New Mexico at Fort Union until the fall of 1862, when he was reassigned to the same post for the Middle Military Department in Baltimore. In mid-1863, after the Gettysburg Campaign, he was reassigned to the Western Theater. Serving under his former West Point classmate, Montgomery C. Meigs, Colonel Donaldson was Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the Cumberland. He organized the men of his quartermasters organization into a combat unit and served in the Battle of Nashville.

He was promoted to brigadier general and Chief Quartermaster of the Military Division of Tennessee. Donaldson efficiently and effectively managed the huge supply bases that served the armies of Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George H. Thomas and received their commendations in official reports.

At the war's close, Donaldson was brevetted a major general in the regular army.

Donaldson retired from active service in 1869 and formally resigned from the army on January 1, 1874. He wrote Sergeant Atkins (1871), a tale of the Florida War.

A stained glass window, "The Roman Centurion," in the Grace and St. Peters Church in Baltimore memorializes James Lowry Donaldson.

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