Napoleon B. McLaughlen

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Napoleon Bonaparte McLaughlen
Born December 8, 1823
Chelsea, Vermont
Died January 27, 1887(1887-01-27) (aged 63)
Middletown, New York
Place of burial Maple Grove Cemetery,
Worcester, New York
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1850–1859
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
Unit 2nd U.S. Dragoons
1st U.S. Cavalry
4th U.S. Cavalry
10th U.S. Cavalry
Commands held 1st Massachusetts Infantry
57th Massachusetts Infantry

American Civil War

Napoleon Bonaparte McLaughlen (a.k.a. McLaughlin) was a career United States army officer. He served throughout the American Civil War, winning brevet promotions to Brigadier General of both the U.S. Volunteers and the Regular Army.


McLaughlen was born in Chelsea, VT in 1823. He began his military career as a Private in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. In 1850 he became a Sergeant in that regiment, serving in that capacity before his discharge in 1859.

Early Civil War Service[edit]

In May 1861 he returned to U.S. military service as 1st Lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment. He was part of the regular Cavalry service until he was appointed Colonel of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteers Infantry Regiment. In this capacity he fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness and Spotsylvania. He won brevet promotions to major in the U.S. Army for Chancellorsville and to lieutenant colonel for Gettysburg.[1] He was mustered out of the volunteers service on May 28, 1864.[2]

Siege of Petersburg[edit]

On September 14, 1864 he was appointed Colonel of the 57th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment[2] returning to the front lines during the Siege of Petersburg. The following day McLaughlen assumed command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, IX Corps. He led it at the Battle of Poplar Springs Church for which he was given a brevet promotion to brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers, and also fought at the Battle of Boydton Plank Road. During the Winter of 1864-1865 McLaughlen was occasionally in command of the 1st Division, IX Corps.[3]

Fort Stedman[edit]

McLaughlen returned to command of the 3rd Brigade which manned the line of trenches constituting Fort Stedman. On March 25, 1865 Confederate General John B. Gordon launched a surprise attack against Fort Stedman, overrunning its defenses. McLaughlen moved to the front to rally his brigade. He first inspected Fort Haskell, another defense in his sector. Approving of the situation at Fort Haskell he rode on to Fort Stedman not realizing this position was now occupied by Confederate soldiers who took him prisoner. Despite his capture he was given a brevet promotions in the U.S. Army to colonel for Fort Stedman and brigadier general. He was briefly held prisoner in Libby Prison[1] until his release on April 2, 1865. He returned to command his old brigade which was now manned the defenses of Washington, DC before he was mustered out of the volunteer service on August 10, 1865.

Post Civil War Service[edit]

McLaughlen continued serving in the U.S. Army after the Civil War. He was promoted to Major of the 10th U.S. Cavalry in 1876. He retired from active duty in 1882. McLaughlen died in 1887 in Middletown, NY.


  1. ^ a b Appleton's p.140
  2. ^ a b Eicher p.381
  3. ^ Civil War Reference