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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part I - Scots in the Settlement and Development of The United States
Scots in the Civil War and the Army


IN the great Civil War of 1861-1865 Scotsmen were equally prominent on both sides. Ross thinks that possibly fifty thousand Scots served in the Northern armies, but as the volunteer records at Washington do not define nationality this figure may be well below the mark. Of the four field Forrest, Benjamin McCulloch, John B. Magruder, John B. Gordon, John A. Logan, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry W. Lawton, Frederick Funston, and Daniel, George W., Robert L., Alexander McD., Daniel, Jr., Edwin S., Edward M., and Anson G. McCook, all of Scottish blood.

The Highland Guard of Chicago was one of the earliest organizations to answer the President’s call in 1861. Its first commander, as was fitting, was a Scot, John McArthur, who was born in Erskine in 1826, and came to the United States when twenty-three years of age. In the Civil War he commanded a brigade at the assault on Fort Donelson, and for his gallantry there was promoted brigadier-general. At Shiloh, in the operations around Vicksburg, and in the battle of Nashville, he rendered conspicuous service to his adopted country and was brevetted major-general.

Another regiment of volunteers of Scottish origin, the Seventy-ninth High-landers of New York, rendered distinguished service in the war. Originally a company called "The Highland Guard," with a uniform patterned after that of the Black Watch, it was reorganized in 1861 and enrolled in the Federal service, in which it held the record for "fighting more battles and marching more miles than any other New York regiment." Its colonel during its first service was James Cameron, a brother of Simon Cameron, Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Lincoln. He was killed at the first battle of Bull Run. Among the Scottish officers of this regiment who achieved distinction should be named Colonel David Morrison, a Glasgow man who succeeded Colonel Cameron, Colonel Joseph Laing, Colonel A. D. Baird, and Captain Robert Gair.

Another transplanted Scot who achieved high rank in the Federal service was Brigadier-General James Lorraine Geddes, a native of Edinburgh, where he was born in 1827. Previous to emigrating to this country Geddes had served in the Punjab campaign in the British service, and was present at the battle of Keyber Pass. In 1857 he settled at Vinton, Iowa, and on the outbreak of the war enlisted as a private in an Iowa regiment. His military services to the Union were of such value that he rose to the rank of brigadier-general in the volunteer service in 1865. In his later years he was connected with the Iowa College of Agriculture. He also wrote a number of war songs, which, set to music, became widely popular. Among them were "The Soldier's Battle Prayer," and "The Stars and Stripes."

General James Grant Wilson, born in Edinburgh, April 28, 1832, and long a prominent figure in the literary life of the country, was a son of William Wilson, the poet (1801-1860), a native of Perthshire, who was a kinsman of the Hon. James Wilson of Pennsylvania. General Wilson not only had a distinguished war record and a recognized standing as an author and historian, but he possessed several interesting personal relics of Lincoln, Grant and Washington, and his informal talks and lectures on these great characters, two of whom were his personal friends, will be long remembered.

Of those officers of Scottish descent, General Grant demands first attention. General Ulysses S. Grant was born April 27, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. He was the eighth lineal descendant of Matthew Grant, who with his wife, Priscilla, in 1630, and an infant daughter, named also Priscilla, embarked from Plymouth, England, with a party of 140 emigrants in the Mary and John vessel, of 400 tons, and after a prosperous voyage of 70 days, arrived at Nantasket on the 30th day of May. He tarried for four years at Dorchester, Mass., and following the tide of immigration, removed to Windsor, Conn., and was chosen the first surveyor of the town and later became town clerk. "Few men filled so large a place in the early history of Windsor as honest Matthew Grant." His name figures in almost every place of trust, and the early records of the town show "that his duties were always conscientiously performed." General Grant's genealogy follows: (1) Matthew Grant, was probably one of the original company. (2) Samuel Grant, born in Dorchester, November 12, 1631, son of Matthew Grant. (3) Samuel Grant, born in Windsor, Conn., April 20, 1659. (4) Norah Grant, born East Windsor, Conn., December 16, 1692. (5) Captain Norah Grant, born at Grant Hill, Tolland, Conn., July 12, 1718. (6) Captain Norah Grant, born Tolland, Connecticut, June 20, 1748. (7) Jesse Root Grant, born Westmoreland, Pa., January 23, 1794. (8) General U. Simpson Grant, born Point Pleasant, Ohio, April 27, 1822. General Grant’s mother was Hannah Simpson, also of Scottish descent. It is said that the blood of the same family of Simpsons flowed in both General Grant and Jefferson Davis.

In this connection it is interesting to note that when the Scots’ Charitable Society of Boston was organised in 1657, of its first year membership of twenty-seven three were Grants: Alexander Grant, James Grant, and Peter Grant.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), Commander in Chief of the Confederate Army, was a son of "Light-horse Harry" Lee, of Virginia fighting stock that certainly laid claim to good Scottish blood whether or not it was that of the Bruce.

Thomas Jonathan Jackson, the great-grandfather of Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863), emigrated to Maryland in 1748 and married Elizabeth Cummins.

General Samuel McClellan, General George Brinton McClellan, and the latter’s son, the late Mayor of New York, are of Galloway descent and trace their origin to the Ulster Scot, James McClellan who was chosen a constable at the second annual town meeting in Worcester, Mass., in March, 1724.

Ohio gave to the Union army General Grant, and from that State came also the McDowells, the Mitchells, the MePhersons, the McCooks, the Gibsons, the Hayeses, the Gilmores and a host of other Scot descendants whose names are familiar to all.

Major-General Irwin McDowell (1818-1885) was graduated from West Point in 1838, was brevetted captain for gallantry in the Mexican War and had a notable career in the Civil War.

Gen. James Birdseye McPherson (1828-1864) was graduated from West Point in the class of 1853. He was chief engineer on the staff of General Grant at Vicksburg and was second in command to General Sherman in the Georgia campaign when he was killed in the fighting before Atlanta.

The "Fighting McCooks" were the sons and grandsons of George McCook, who emigrated from the North of Ireland. The two fathers, Daniel and Dr. John McCook, nine sons of Daniel and five of John, all were officers in the northern forces—a record probably unequalled under any flag.

General Irving Adams Gilmore (1825-1888), another Ohio Scot,. revolutionized naval gunnery in his bombardment and capture of Fort Pulaski, which brought him international reputation.

Gen. Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was a native of Virginia and a veteran of the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Creek and Seminole Wars. He retired shortly after the beginning of the Civil War to make place for a younger man.

Among other distinguished officers of Scottish descent were Gen. John A. Logan (1826-1886), a son of Dr. John Logan, who came to Maryland as a young man, afterward removing successively to Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois; Col. Alexander Biddle (1819-1899), of the noted Philadelphia fami]y, who fought with conspicuous bravery at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg; General Samuel Wylie Crawford (1829-1892), also of Philadelphia, who as an assistant-surgeon was with Major Anderson in Fort Sumter during the bombardment. His successive promotions to the rank of major-general were all for bravery, at Gettysburg, Five Forks, the Wilderness and in the Virginia campaign; Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg (1813-1916), of Pennsylvania, the last surviving Union general who fought at Gettysburg; the gallant Southern leader, General Albert Sydney Johnston (1803-1862), who in 1849 handled the Mormon situation with such tact and ability, and espousing the Confederate cause as a brigadier-general, bade fair at his untimely death, early in the war, to be the South’s greatest general; and J. E. B. Stuart (1833-1864), great Confederate cavalry leader.

In more recent years we have Brigadier-General Francis Moore, a native of Lanarkshire; Lieutenant-General Arthur McArthur—whose father was a Glasgow man, and Major-General Mackenzie, whose father came from Ayrshire; Brigadier-General James Montgomery Bell (1837), who saw distinguished service in the Civil and Indian wars and in the Philippines; MajorGeneral Hugh Lenox Scott (1853), who won such enviable reputation in his negotiations with the Indians; and Brigadier-Generals John D. Kerr, Wotherspoon and Murray.


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