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Robert S. Garnett

Portrait of Robert S. Garnett
TitleBrigadier General
War & AffiliationCivil War / Confederate
Date of Birth - DeathDecember 16, 1819 - July 13, 1861

Robert Selden Garnett was born on December 16, 1819 on his family’s plantation in Essex County, Virginia. He attended the U. S. Military Academy at West Point with his cousin Richard B. Garnett, was killed during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. 

Robert Garnett graduated 27th in his class of 52 in 1841 and was assigned to the 4th U. S. Artillery. He served under General Zachary Taylor during the Mexican War and received two brevet promotions for distinguished service, one at the Battle of Monterrey and the other for "gallant and meritorious conduct" at the Battle of Buena Vista. In 1848, Garnett transferred to the infantry and fought in several campaigns against Indians, first in the Seminole Wars in Florida and later in the Pacific northwest. He took leave from the army in 1858 to bury his wife and young son who had died from disease. When the Civil War broke out, Garnett resigned from the U. S. Army and served as Adjutant General of Virginia troops under Robert E. Lee. Lee assigned Garnett to western Virginia to guard the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, a vital Confederate supply route through the mountains.  His two brigades were defeated by Union general George B. McClellan at the Battle of Rich Mountain on July 11, 1861. Garnett was killed during a rear-guard action at Corrick’s Ford on the Cheat River two days later. Garnett was buried first in Baltimore and was later re-interred next to his wife’s grave in Brooklyn, New York.

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