George W. Getty

George W. Getty

George W. Getty
Born (1819-10-02)October 2, 1819
Washington, D.C.
Died October 1, 1901(1901-10-01) (aged 81)
Forest Glen, Maryland
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1840–1883
Rank Brigadier General
Brevet Major General
Commands held IX Corps
VII Corps
VI Corps

Mexican–American War
Seminole Wars
American Civil War

George Washington Getty (October 2, 1819 – October 1, 1901) was a career military officer in the United States Army, most noted for his role as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac during the final full year of the American Civil War.

Early life

Getty was born in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, at the age of 16, and graduated 15th out of 42 graduates in the Class of 1840. Among his classmates were future Civil War generals William T. Sherman and George H. Thomas of the Union Army and Richard S. Ewell and Bushrod R. Johnson of the Confederate States Army. He was assigned to the artillery as a second lieutenant. During the Mexican-American War, he campaigned with Winfield Scott's army and received a brevet appointment as captain for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco. He fought against the Seminole Indians in Florida in the last two Seminole Wars, seeing action in 1849–50 and again in 1856–57.

Civil War

At the beginning of the Civil War, Getty was a captain in the 4th U.S. Artillery. In September, 1861, he was appointed lieutenant colonel. He commanded four batteries in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Named Chief of Artillery of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps, he served at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam during the Maryland Campaign. On September 25, 1862, Getty was promoted to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to the infantry. During the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, he commanded the 3rd Division of IX Corps. In March, 1863, Getty's division was sent to Suffolk, Virginia, where the Federal Army under Maj. Gen. John A. Dix successfully resisted Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's investment of the town, which guarded the southern approaches to Norfolk and Hampton Roads.

After subsequent engineering duty and command of a diversion to the South Anna River during the Gettysburg Campaign, Getty served as acting Inspector General of the Army of the Potomac in early 1864, He was assigned to command 2nd Division, VI Corps. He was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness, but recovered to lead his troops during the lengthy Siege of Petersburg, and later in Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Getty became acting commander of VI Corps when Brig. Gen. James B. Ricketts was wounded leading the corps at the Battle of Cedar Creek. On December 12, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Getty for appointment to the brevet grade of major general of volunteers, to rank from August 1, 1864, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 14, 1865.[1] Getty's division, including the famed Vermont Brigade, made the initial breakthrough at Petersburg on April 2, 1865, and took part in the final campaign of the Army of the Potomac, which concluded with the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. On July 17, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Getty for appointment to the brevet grade of major general, U.S. Army (Regular Army), to rank from March 13, 1865, which the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on July 23, 1866.[2] Getty was mustered out of the volunteer force on October 9, 1866.[3]

Postbellum career

On July 28, 1866, Getty was appointed colonel of the 37th U.S. Infantry in the regular army.[4] He transferred to the 3rd U.S. Infantry, March 15, 1869.[4] Getty then transferred to the 3rd U.S. Artillery on December 31, 1870,[4] and then commanded the Artillery School at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, for six years. Getty was a member of the Board of Conduct which exonerated former V Corps commander Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter in 1879. He transferred to the 4th U.S. Artillery on July 17, 1882.[4]

General Getty was a member of several military societies including the Aztec Club of 1847, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

After he retired from the Army on October 2, 1883,[4] Getty lived on a farm near Forest Glen, Maryland, before his death on October 1, 1901, at Forest Glen.[4] He was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.


General Getty's son, Robert Nelson Getty (1855–1941), graduated from West Point in 1878 and served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 64 in 1919. He was a veteran of the Indian Wars, the Spanish–American War, the Philippine Insurrection and the First World War, during which he was promoted to brigadier general.


  1. Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 712
  2. Eicher, 2001, p. 707
  3. Eicher, 2001, p. 721
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Eicher, 2001, p. 252


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