William Earnshaw (minister)

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William Earnshaw
Rev William Earnshaw.jpg
Earnshaw circa 1865
Born (1828-04-12)April 12, 1828
Chester, Pennsylvania
Died July 7, 1885(1885-07-07) (aged 57)
Dayton, Ohio
Place of burial Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
Dayton, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1867
Rank Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg chaplain
Unit 49th Pennsylvania Infantry
U.S. Volunteers, Hospital Chaplain
Battles/wars American Civil War
Other work 8th Commander-in-Chief, Grand Army of the Republic

William Earnshaw, D.D. (April 12, 1828 – July 7, 1885) was an American minister who served in the Union Army as a chaplain and as the 8th Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1879-1880.

Early life and military career[edit]

Earnshaw was born on April 12, 1828 in Chester, Pennsylvania. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted April 16, 1861 as a private in the 49th Pennsylvania Infantry and was mustered in as the regiment's chaplain with the rank of captain. Earnshaw resigned his commission on October 12, 1862 when the regiment was consolidated with another regiment. He was appointed a hospital chaplain in the U.S. Volunteers April 22, 1863 and remained in the service until August 27, 1867.

Post-war service[edit]

With the necessity of creating national cemeteries, Ernshaw was superintendent of the construction of Stones River National Cemetery and Nashville National Cemetery. He was elected chaplain of the National Military Home in Dayton, Ohio on September 5, 1867 and held the post until illness forced him to retire.

Earnshaw was Commander of the Ohio Department, Grand Army of the Republic in 1876, Junior Vice-Commander in 1877, and presided at the national encampment of the G.A.R. in Albany, New York in 1879, when he was elected to serve as the national organization's 8th Commander-in-Chief.

He died July 7, 1885 in Dayton, Ohio and is buried there in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.

See also[edit]


  • Grand Army of the Republic. Final Journal of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1866-1956 (Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.), 1957.
Political offices
Preceded by
John C. Robinson
Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic
Succeeded by
Louis Wagner