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Abraham Garfield, was a farmer in very moderate cir cumstances, who died in 1833, leaving a family of four children, of whom James was the youngest. His mother, a woman of unusual strength of character, is st living. By her exertions she managed to keep the family together until the boys were old enough to earn their own living. She, an energetic business woman, made the most of the sinall farm which had been her husband's only property, and brought the boys up to aid her. James was like her in activity and perseverance. Winters he received a few months of district school tuition, and the rest of the year worked upon the farm or helped in a carpenter's shop. He had an absorbing ambition to get a good education, which at an early age gave his character its bent, and shaped his future course in life. The Ohio and Erie Canal ran not far from his mother's house, and, finding that the men employed got better wages than he could earn at the carpenter's bench, he hired out as a driver when seventeen years old, and soon rose to the positiou of boatman. Hard work and exposure brought on a fever in the Fall of 1848, which lasted three months and put an end to his plan for shipping as a sailor from the shipyard of Capt. Wm. Treat, near Cleveland.
In the Spring of 1849, the boy's mother gave
him a few dollars which she had saved for the pur pose by pinching economy, and told him he could now realize his ambition of learning something more than the district school could teach. He went to Geauga Academy, in a country village not far from Orange, and being too poor to pay the $1.50 a week which was the price asked for board, he took a few cooking utensils and a stock of provisions, and, hiring a room in an old unpainted farm-house, boarded himself. From the day he left home for the Academy he never had a dollar which he did not earn. He soon found employment with the carpenters of the village, and by working mornings and evenings and Saturdays he earned enough to pay his way. The Summer vacation enabled him to save something toward the Fall term, and in the ensuing Winter he taught a district school. Thus he kept on for several years, teaching in the Winter, working at the bench in Summers, and attending the Academy during the Fall and Spring terms. He was a tall, muscular, fair-haired country lad in those days, looking a good deal like a German. Healthy in mind and body, genial in temperament, a good wrestler and ball player as well as a good student, he was a great favorite with his comrades and teachers in Williams College. In this institution he won the confidence and admiration both of the students and the instructors. At the head of the
Faculty stood Mark Hopkins, then in his prime. Graduating in 1856, Mr. Garfield returned to Hiram as teacher of Ancient Languages and Literature. The next year, being twenty-six years old, he was made the head of the Institute, and this place he held and filled until he went into the army in 1861, having been elected and served as State Senator in 1859. Hoping that he might return, unwilling to part even with his name, the Board kept him nominally at the head two years longer. Then he fell out of the catalogue, to reappear as a Trustee and as Advisory Principal and Lecturer in 1864 and 1865. Then his name finally disappears from the Faculty page of the catalogue. His last service as an instructor was an admirable series of ten lectures on "Social Science," given in the Spring of 1871.
During the heated political discussions of 1860-'61 Garfield was characteristically active and vigorous in aiding to prepare the State to stand by the general Government in opposition to the rising storm of rebellion. When the storm burst he determined to drop everything and enter the army. A company was raised at Hiram composed exclusively of the students of his college, and was attached to the 42d Ohio Infantry. At that time the Ohio Regiments when organized elected their field officers by ballot. Gar
field was chosen Colonel, and the regiment took the field in Eastern Kentucky in December, 1861.
HIS CAREER AS A SOLDIER.
Colonel Garfield was assigned to the command of the 18th Brigade, and was ordered by General Buell to drive Humphrey Marshall out of the Sandy Valley. Thus a citizen soldier who had never seen a battle was entrusted with the serious task of defeating a force outnumbering him by nearly two to one, and commanded by a man who had led the famous charge of the Kentucky Volunteers at Buena Vista. By a forced night march he reached Marshall's position, near Prestonburg, at daylight; fell upon him with impetuosity, and after a sharp fight forced him to burn his baggage and retreat into Virginia. The rebels left a small force in Pound Gap, which they fortified and held as a point of observation. On the 14th of March Colonel Garfield started with five hundred infantry and two hundred cavalry to dislodge this force. A severe march of ten days brought his men to the gap. He sent his cavalry along the main road to attract the enemy's attention, while he scrambled over the rocks and through the woods with his infantry, and reached the outskirts of the rebel camp unobserved. A few volleys scattered them in full retreat.
These operations cleared Eastern Kentucky and stopped the flank movement which was disturbing
Buell's plan. It was of much greater military importance than the number of troops in it indicated. Garfield was rewarded for his victory with the rank of Brigadier-General, and was ordered to join Buell's army, which was then on its way to reinforce Grant at Pittsburg Landing. In command of the 20th Brigade he reached the battle-field in the second day of the engagement. His brigade next took part in the tedious siege of Corinth. In August, ill-health compelled him to leave the field for a time, and he was made a member of the court-martial for the trial of Fitz John Porter. In January, 1863, he was made Chief of Staff of the Army of the Cumberland, and became the intimate friend and adviser of its commander, General Rosecranz. At the battle of Chickamauga he wrote every order save one, submitting each to General Rosecranz for approval or change. That one was the fatal order to General Wood, which lost the day. The words did not clearly convey the meaning of the commanding general; Wood misinterpreted them, and the result was the opening of the gap in the main lines through which the rebels poured, flanking and destroying Rosecranz's right wing. General Garfield was made a Major-General for his conduct at Chickamauga.
HIS CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.
In 1863, he was elected and took his seat in the House of Representatives as the member from what was famil