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 [Biography] Robert Harrison

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Robert Harrison
Robert Harrison
CS Army

Posts : 12
Join date : 2015-03-29

[Biography] Robert Harrison Vide
PostSubject: Re: [Biography] Robert Harrison   [Biography] Robert Harrison I_icon_minitime01.09.16 12:50

Early Life

The Harrison family had been in North America for more than a hundred years. The first of them Archibald Harrison, of the great clan in the Low of Scotland, landed in Pennsylvania in 1726. By 1738 Archibald moved his family to what is now Augusta County, Virginia. His second son, Alexander, participated in the Revolutionary War. Major Harrison was an able man. He advanced the fortunes of his family, and took a leading part in the affairs of his generation. He was one of the founders of Washington College in Lexington.

Major Harrison’s son, Alexander served in the Federal Government and his son Richard served in the army through the War of 1812 and served in the Virginia Legislature. Richard and Rose (Walker) Harrison’s youngest son, and the third, of the five children, Robert, was born on February 6, 1833 on the farm called Laurel Hill.

Robert Harrison was, from his earliest boyhood, a lover of soldiers. His eye danced and his heart beat whenever there was a drill of the village militia company. Every summer he would get a dozen of his school-mates, and persuade them that it was the best fun in the world to play soldier. His friend Cassell would let him have a sword of the sharpest and brightest tin, and, of course, Robert was always captain. He was always ready to stand his ground against any odds.

Robert was home schooled and in 1848, being then in his fifteenth year, entered Emory and Henry College.

West Point Years 1850 - 1854

Robert never studied in earnest until he thought he had a chance to go to West Point. Then he devoted all his energies to cramming for his examination. Robert went whole-heartedly and industriously to work supplying the deficiencies in his education. He placed himself under the tuition of a Mr. Clark, a fine mathematician and excellent teacher. Pupil and teacher worked hard, and at the end of three months Robert was ready for his examination. Congressman, the Honorable H. T. Averett, made the appointment, and at the age of seventeen he was appointed to the United States Military Academy, and he became a cadet at West Point, 1 July, 1850.

His knowledge of horses stood him in excellent stead, and his audacious courage in handling and riding them soon made him a leader in the riding school.

Robert graduated 13th in the class of 46 in 1854, when he was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant of infantry, and sent to Texas immediately on the expiration of the usual leave of absence granted to graduates of their leaving the academy.

Life out West 1855 -1861

As brevet second lieutenant the young twenty-one-year-old joined a company of the First Infantry at Fort Duncan, on the Rio Grande, Texas, where he served against Comanche, Lipan, and Apache till early in 1855, when he as made second lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry. In July of that year he was ordered Washington Territory. Upon arriving Lieutenant Harrison was detailed to command a detachment of dragoons in the expedition of Major Raines, of the Fourth Infantry, to the Yakima reservation, Oregon, against an Indian tribe of that name. He returned to Vancouver, Washington Territory in the fall. His conduct in the fights with the Indians at the Cascades of Columbia were specially mentioned as very gallant in Major Raines’ report.

In command of his dragoon detachment, Lieutenant Harrison was always actively at work. On September 17th 1856, the long roll was sounded. Information had been received of an attack upon the Cascades settlement by the Yakima Indians. Harrison at once put his cavalry attachment on board the river steamer Belle, with a handy twelve-pound howitzer. Early the next morning the Belle reached the Lower Cascades, being as far as her regular trip extended. From this point the Indians could be seen in force. Not waiting to learn what was in progress at the Cascades settlement, he prepared for an attack upon the Indians. His little force was deployed and his men were ordered to take advantage of every cover, and to fire only when they could see the Indians. Harrison soon found himself greatly outnumbered and commenced a slow retreat, firing rapidly as he fell back. At the shore he brought into play the howitzer that his foresight had caused him to place on the steamboat. The Indians were checked and finally fell back.

At early dawn a second boat was obtained and the detachment embarked, making its was up stream where they found Colonel Wright with several companies of the Ninth Infantry who were busily engaged with the Indians. Disembarking, Harrison’s dragoons assisted the infantry in repelling the attacking Indians.

For his services in this campaign Harrison received the thanks of General Scott, being named in general orders and promoted to the rank of first lieutenant, a promotion earned as a result of service in the field and hard fighting.

July 1857 Harrison was transferred to the Second U.S. Cavalry, whose second in command happened to be the former Superintendent of West Point, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Parker. Shortly after arriving the Second Cavalry took the trail against the Indians, who were plundering and burning where they found it convenient to do so, by way of asserting the belief that their native prairies belonged to them and not to the white people who were pushing out of the East and killing off the buffalo. In August, seventeen marches from the base, six companies of the regiment, under Colonel Parker in person rode over a fold in the rolling plain and came upon a band of hostiles, three hundred Cheyenne warriors, advancing toward the column in irregular mass. The six companies went front into line immediately, and it was expected, as they came in gunshot, that they would halt, fire an aimed volley, and then attack with pistols. But Colonel Parker’s first order was: Draw Sabres! And his next was Charge!

The troopers spurred their horses, yelling, and the Cheyennes wheeled about and fled, very sensibly, and the fight streamed off across the grassland; the cavalry companies losing formation as the stronger horses drew ahead of the weaker ones, and checking and swirling, in smoke and dust, where single Indians and little groups were overtaken and turned to shoot. In one such group a brave, with a revolver, was standing off two officers, Lieutenant Colonel Parker and Lieutenant Stanley. Harrison thought that the savage might kill Parker, and he dashed at him with his sabre, slashing him in the thigh. The Indian shot at him and missed, as his horse carried him by. Harrison turning about, rode at the brave again, and cut him over the head, where as the the Cheyenne, shot him in the chest. The slug almost unseated him, but not quite, for he was a superlative horseman, and while he recovered himself, Stanley came up and killed the Indian. They got Harrison off his horse and found that the ball had glanced across his upper ribs and lodged deep in the left pectoral muscle, painful but not dangerous. Thereafter, he suffered the rough mercies of frontier hospital arrangements, convalesced lying on the ground, under the shade of a blanket upheld by four sabres stuck in the sod.

For the next three years Harrison continued to serve, with distinction, upon numerous expeditions and posts. In the latter, by service as adjutant, commissary, quartermaster, as well as by company duty, he acquired a minute knowledge of all military administrations and details which distinguished his early army career. On August 7, 1860 Harrison was promoted to captain.

The fall and winter of 1860-1861 was a time of painful suspense. Mail service to Fort Leavenworth was irregular, arriving at two to four week intervals. Anxiety mounted to such a point that one of the officers or enlisted men stood for hours on the roof of the quartermaster’s office - the highest building in the town - to watch for the mail coach. As the events unfolded in the East, the tension mounted until the next mail reached the army post with the news.

For Harrison the choice came early. When he learned of Lincoln’s election, he decided that his allegiance belonged to the South. Although he did not embrace secession, in his mind perhaps he had little choice. He had learned the doctrine of states’ rights early in life, had seen his father’s passion for it, and to oppose that meant to reject the abiding view of the man he respected. He was Southerner; his father-in-law’s family was Southern. It was a difficult choice - one shared by many Southerners in the army - but he did not hesitate; in fact he acted with surprising haste.

Offers Services to the Confederacy 1855 -1861

On May 9, 1861 Harrison submitted his letter of resignation:

[Biography] Robert Harrison Robert10

His commanding officer endorsed it and forwarded it to the War Department three days later. On May 12, the department accepted the resignation.

Leaving Texas for the East, he headed to Virginia to receive a commission of major of infantry in that state’s forces, as many other ex-army officers did in their native states before entering the Confederate service. Arriving in Richmond Harrison discovered that the Confederate authorities, under the recommendation of General Benjamin Parker, had appointed him brigadier general of cavalry, Fourth Brigade, First Division, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, to rank from June 7, 1861.

Timeline - Military Career - Ranks held:

  • [Biography] Robert Harrison Us_cad10 Cadet (West Point) (July 1, 1850 to February 17, 1855)
  • [Biography] Robert Harrison Us_2nd10 2nd Lieutenant (February 17, 1855 to August 7, 1860)
  • [Biography] Robert Harrison 1lttin10 1st Lieutenant (August 7, 1860 to May 9, 1861)
  • [Biography] Robert Harrison Captti10 Captain (August 7, 1860 to May 9, 1861)
  • [Biography] Robert Harrison Genera18Brigadier General (May 30, 1861 - present)

Short Biography

NameRobert Harrison
Date of BirthFebruary 6, 1833
Place of BirthLaurel Hill, Va.
Date of Death-
Place of Death-
SpouseENTER NAME OF SPOUSE or leave blank of none
  • Albert
  • Edward
  • Sarah
  • Joseph
  • AllegianceCSA / Pro-South
    BranchCSA Army
    Prior ServiceUS Army
    Years of Service1854 - 1861 (US Army)
  • Present (CS Army)
  • Current RankBrigadier General
    Former Ranks
  • Cadet
  • Bvt. Second Lieutenant
  • Second Lieutenant
  • Bvt. First Lieutenant
  • First Lieutenant
  • War ServiceIndain Wars
    Battles of
  • Current LocationRichmond, Va.

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