Another Union general from York
Bronze bust of Brig. Gen. Jacob G. Lauman at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. Lauman was one of the few men with York ties to fight in the Siege of Vicksburg.
York is most noted as being the birthplace and residence of Major General William B. Franklin, who played a prominent role in the Army of the Potomac early in the Civil War before being caught up in the political backbiting and frenzy that so often accompanied the star-crossed army during its long succession of misfortunes and defeats. Like so many other early generals whose names dot the orders of battle for the 1862 engagements, his name was missing from the muster rolls by the time of the Gettysburg Campaign.
Another general who called York his boyhood home had a similar fate in terms of playing a leading role early in the war, albeit in the Western Theater. Jacob G. Lauman was not born in York, but was raised here and graduated from the York County Academy before moving to Iowa as a young man.
Here is General Lauman’s brief biography, adapted from a new article just published on Wikipedia. He is a good example of what we in the business world call “the Peter Principle,” referring to someone who is successively good at a their jobs, but are promoted to at least one level beyond their true capabilities and limitations.
Jacob Gartner Lauman (January 20, 1813 – February 9, 1867) was a prominent American businessman from Iowa and a controversial general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He commanded an infantry brigade in the Army of the Tennessee in several campaigns in the Western Theater, and then led a division during the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, where his inadequate performance in the Battle of Jackson led to his being sent home for the rest of the war without a subsequent command.
Lauman was born in Taneytown, Maryland. He grew up in York, Pennsylvania, and was educated at the York County Academy. He engaged in mercantile pursuits in the town of York as a young man.
In 1844, he moved to Burlington, Iowa, and became a successful businessman engaged in regional commerce. Hus business prospered, and Lauman became one of the town’s leading citizens.
Following the outbreak of the Civil War in early 1861, Lauman was actively engaged in recruiting volunteers to join several new military companies he was raising. He received a commission from the Governor of Iowa, Samuel J. Kirkwood, as the colonel of the 7th Iowa Infantry in July 1861. He first saw action in the Western Theater and served under General Ulysses S. Grant in Missouri. Lauman was severely wounded in his thigh during the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861. His 7th Iowa was distinguished for gallant conduct during the fighting, and it suffered greater loss than any other regiment taking part in the engagement, amounting to more than 400 killed, wounded and missing.
He returned to his regiment in time for the next campaign. Lauman commanded the 4th Brigade, 2nd Division during Grant’s attack on Fort Donelson in Tennessee, and was among the first troops to storm and enter the Confederate works. In recognition of his service at Fort Donelson, Grant promoted him to brigadier general in the volunteer army on March 21, 1862. Subsequently, Lauman commanded a brigade in General Stephen Hurlbut’s division at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 and 7, 1862.
Lauman commanded his brigade in the Battle of Hatchie’s Bridge in rural Tennessee, an action on October 6, 1862. Edward O.C. Ord led a detachment of the Army of West Tennessee on an expedition aimed at destroying Confederate General Earl Van Dorn’s Army of West Tennessee as it retreated from Corinth, Mississippi.
In 1863, Lauman was promoted to divisional command in recognition of his past service. He led the 4th Division of the XVI Corps during the Siege of Vicksburg. He was relieved of duty by the order of Major General William T. Sherman shortly after the capture of Jackson, Mississippi, on July 16, 1863. Lauman failed to properly execute orders on how to deploy his troops from his immediate superior, General Ord, who accused him of wanton disregard for the orders, an action that led to a heavy loss in casualties.
Lauman subsequently returned to Iowa to await his next assignment. Orders were never forthcoming, and Lauman sat out the rest of the war. However, in the omnibus promotions following the war, he received a brevet promotion to major general of volunteers, dating from March 13, 1865. He formally mustered out of the army later that year.
Lauman resumed his commercial ventures, but he suffered ill health from his lingering Belmont wound. He tried without success to clear his name, blaming his failure on a misunderstanding.
Lauman died in Burlington, Iowa, in February 1867. He was buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington.
A bronze bust of General Lauman, sculpted by H. Hinson Perry, stands on the Vicksburg Battlefield on Wisconsin Avenue in the city of Vicksburg..