- Wesley Merritt
name = Wesley Merritt
order = 1st American Military Governor of the Philippines
August 14, 1898
August 28, 1898
Emilio Aguinaldo(Philippine President)
Elwell S. Otis
birth_date = birth date|1836|6|16|mf=y
New York City, New York, United States
dead = dead
death_date = death date and age|1910|12|3|1834|6|16|mf=y
Natural Bridge, Virginia, United States
burial place = Post cemetery,
United States Military Academy, United States
party = "None"
spouse = "None"
religion = "None"
Wesley Merritt (
June 16, 1836[Eicher, p. 387. Official records differ on his birth date; June 16, 1836, and June 10, 1837, have also been cited.] – December 3, 1910) was a general in the United States Armyduring the American Civil Warand the Spanish-American War. He is noted for distinguished service in the cavalry.
Merritt was born in
New York City. He graduated from the United States Military Academyin 1860 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons (heavy cavalry), serving initially in Utahunder John Buford. He became the adjutantfor the unit when it was renamed the 2nd U.S. Cavalry.
In 1862, Merritt was appointed
captainin the U.S. Cavalry and served as an aide-de-campto Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, who commanded the Cavalry Department of the Army of the Potomac. He served in the defenses of Washington, D.C., for the rest of 1862. In 1863, he was appointed adjutant for Maj. Gen. George Stonemanand participated in Stoneman's Raid in the Battle of Chancellorsvillein 1863.
Gettysburg Campaign, Merritt commanded the Reserve Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He was slightly wounded in the Battle of Brandy Station; soon after ( June 29 1863), he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers for his "gallant and meritorious service" at Brandy Station and Upperville. Being promoted directly from captain to brigadier general was an unusual step, even for the Civil War, but Merritt shared this honor on that date with Captain Elon J. Farnsworthand First Lieutenant George Armstrong Custer.
In the initial cavalry actions of the
Battle of Gettysburg, Merritt saw no action; his reserve brigade guarded the lines of communications of the Army of the Potomac. On July 3, 1863, however, he participated in the assault ordered by division commander Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrickon the Confederate right flank, following Pickett's Charge. His fellow general, Elon J. Farnsworth, was killed during this futile assault against infantry troops. Merritt took over the 1st Division of the Cavalry Corps following the death by typhoid fever of its commander, John Buford, in December 1863. He commanded the division through Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaignin 1864. He received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel in the regular army for his actions at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, the engagement in which Confederate cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuartwas killed.
During Maj. Gen.
Philip Sheridan's Valley Campaigns of 1864, Merritt commanded the 1st Division, Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Shenandoah. Arriving at the opportune moment, his division routed the Confederate forces at the Third Battle of Winchester, for which he received a brevet promotion to major general. He was second-in-command to Sheridan during the Appomattox Campaignand was one of several commissioners for the surrender at Appomattox Court House. He was brevetted brigadier general in the regular army, in March 1865, for bravery at the Battle of Five Forksand the Appomattox Campaign.
Frontier duty and West Point
After the war's end, Merritt continued to serve in the cavalry along the frontier. He was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the regular army on
July 28, 1866, and commanded the 9th Cavalry out of Fort Conchoin San Angelo, Texas. He was promoted to colonel of the 5th U.S. Cavalry on July 1, 1876, which he commanded in the Battle of Slim Buttesduring the Indian Wars. He served on the frontier until being appointed superintendent of West Point, a post he filled from 1882 to 1887. In 1887, he was appointed a brigadier general in the regular army. He was promoted to major general in the U.S. Army in 1895. Merritt presided over the court of inquiry that looked into the death of Custer in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
George Deweydefeated the Spanish navy at the Battle of Manila Bayin 1898, the U.S. began to organize ground forces to attack and capture the city of Manila. Merritt was placed in command of the VIII Corps being raised in California. In June 1898, Merritt and the last of the VIII Corps departed from San Franciscofor the Philippines.
Once Merritt arrived on the island of
Luzon, he and Dewey made preparations for the attack on the city. The two intentionally kept Emilio Aguinaldoout of the plans for the attack, neither wanting Aguinaldo's Insurgents to have any control over the city. It is widely believed that Merritt and Dewey made arrangements with General Fermin Jaudenes, commander of the Spanish garrison, to surrender the city to the U.S. only after putting up a token resistance. In any case, the city fell on August 13and Merritt became the military governor of the Philippines. He later advised the U.S. in the peace negotiations at the Treaty of Paris.
Merritt retired from the Army in 1900 and died ten years later in
Natural Bridge, Virginia. He is buried in the Post cemetery, United States Military Academy.
*List of American Civil War generals
* Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., "Civil War High Commands", Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
* [http://www.bufordsboys.com/Merritt's%20Biography.html Online biography]
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