Gouverneur Kemble Warren

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy had what you could call a complicated relationship with the Civil War. Before that, though, he graduated from West Point (duh) in 1850, second in his class, and joined the Corps of Topographical Engineers as a brevet 2nd lieutenant. As part of the transcontinental railroad surveys, Warren helped create one of the first comprehensive maps of the western United States, which led him through a big chunk of the unsettled Nebraska Territory before the war.

But at the outset of aforementioned war, Warren was back at West Point as a mathematics instructor when he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 5th New York Infantry. (Sidenote: can you imagine your college math professor leading a infantry regiment into battle?). Promoted to colonel in due haste, Warren and his warriors saw action at the Siege of Yorktown, the Seven Days Battles (where Warren was shot in the knee), the Second Bull Run, and Antietam.

A statue of Warren that sits atop Little Round Top at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania.

But it was Gettysburg that put a feather in his cap: “realizing the importance” of the Union’s exposed flank at Little Round Top, Warren earned acclaim and a promotion for his part in the defense of that hill on the second day of battle (today being its 149th anniversary). The rest of the war, however, wasn’t as nice to ol’ Gouv. General Philip Sheridan, notoriously fiery and impetuous, removed Warren from command after his regiment didn’t move as quickly as he wanted. Because Sheridan was BFFs with General (and soon-to-be President) Grant, Warren couldn’t do anything but resign his commission after the war and wait until Grant died to get official exoneration from wrongdoing.

As a final insult, Warren died, at 52, before the final report was published.

Up next on CCWN, the thickly political THURLOW WEED.

(sources: 1, 2) (images: 1, 2)

Leave a Reply