Peter Joseph Osterhaus

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Peter Joseph Osterhaus
Peter J Osterhaus.jpg
Peter J. Osterhaus
Born January 4, 1823
Koblenz, Rhenish Prussia
Died January 2, 1917(1917-01-02) (aged 93)
Duisburg, Germany
Place of burial Koblenz Jewish Cemetery, Koblenz, Germany
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1866
Rank Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Major General
Commands held 12th Missouri Volunteer Infantry
XV Corps

Peter Joseph Osterhaus (January 4, 1823 – January 2, 1917) was Union Army general in the American Civil War and later served as a diplomat.

Early life[edit]

Osterhaus was born in Koblenz, Rhenish Prussia. He attended the Berlin Military Academy and after serving for some time as a Prussian Army officer and finding himself on the losing side in the Revolutions of 1848, he immigrated to the United States in 1858 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

Civil War[edit]

At the outbreak of the Civil War Osterhaus was appointed a major of the 2nd Missouri Volunteer Infantry and during the first year of the war was employed in Missouri and Arkansas, where he took a conspicuous part in the Battle of Wilson's Creek and Battle of Pea Ridge. At Pea Ridge he commanded the troops that first made contact with Confederate forces advancing on the Union left. He was promoted to brigadier general on June 9, 1862. In 1863 he commanded a division in the Battle of Port Gibson, where he displayed tactical ability in prying Confederate defenders out of a favorable position.

Osterhaus continued in division command during the Vicksburg Campaign, fighting in the Battle of Champion Hill and at the Battle of Big Black River Bridge, where he was slightly wounded. Osterhaus's division made an unsuccessful first attack on the defenses of Vicksburg, the first act of the Siege of Vicksburg. His division helped cover the siege against intervention by the Confederate forces of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and he took part in Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's advance on Jackson, Mississippi, that was designed to protect the rear of the Army of the Tennessee in its siege operations.

After the fall of Vicksburg, Osterhaus's division was transferred to Tennessee. In the Chattanooga Campaign he aided Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker in the capture of Lookout Mountain. Osterhaus then participated in the Atlanta Campaign but a month-long sick leave caused him to miss the crucial Battle of Atlanta. However, he returned to command and played a significant role in the Battle of Jonesborough. After the capture of Atlanta, he received command of the XV Corps, one of the four corps into which the army was consolidated, in the Sherman's March to the Sea. In March 1865 Osterhaus was appointed chief of staff in the Military Division of West Mississippi under the command of Maj. Gen. Edward Canby, a commander with little combat experience in high command. Osterhaus served Canby through the battles of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. When Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, Osterhaus was sent as Canby's representative and therefore personally signed the documents on behalf of the Union army.[1]

He was mustered out of the service on January 15, 1866, and the same year was appointed United States Consul at Lyons, France, but subsequently made his home in Germany, at Duisburg. He retired in 1905, and was in 1915 the oldest pensioner on the Army list.

Osterhaus died in Duisburg and was buried in Koblenz, Germany at the Koblenz Jewish Cemetery. The grave no longer exists.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Townsend, Mary Bobbitt. Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter Osterhaus (University of Missouri Press; 2010) 288 pages; scholarly biography
  • Woodworth, Steven E., Grant's Lieutenants, vol. 1: From Cairo to Vicksburg, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2001.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 


  1. ^ Peter J. Osterhaus, Major General U.S.V.
  2. ^ H. P. Kleber, Peter Joseph Osterhaus: ein deutsch-amerikanisches Leben. Koblenzer Beitraege zur Geschichte und Kultur. New Series 2. 1992, p. 106.

External links[edit]