John Cleveland Robinson
(April 10, 1817 â€“ February
18, 1897) had a long and distinguished career in the United States Army
, fighting in numerous
wars and culminating his career as a Union
Army major general
in the American Civil War
He was a
recipient of the Medal of Honor for
valor in action in 1864 near Spotsylvania
Courthouse, Virginia, where he lost a leg. After the war, he was
elected as Lieutenant Governor
York and served two terms as the president of the
Grand Army of the
Early life and career
was born in Binghamton,
New York. Robinson was appointed to the United States
Military Academy at West Point, New York.
He was a non-graduating member of the Class
of 1839, leaving the academy to study law. After a year as a
civilian, he rejoined the army in October 1839 and was commissioned
as a second
in the 5th U.S.
traveled to Corpus
Christi, Texas, in September 1845 to join Gen. Winfield Scott
and the Army of Occupation
as a regimental and
brigade quartermaster. In June 1846, Robinson was promoted to
served in the Mexican-American
, fighting with distinction in the Battle of Monterey
. He also was in action
at the battles of Palo Alto
Resaca de la Palma
was commissioned as a captain
August 1850 and served in various garrisons. He led troops in
several engagements against hostile Indians in Texas in
Robinson went into combat again, serving in Florida during the
War, where he furthered his military record of bravery
and efficient services. He led a seriers of expeditions against the
Seminoles in the Everglades and Big Cyprus Swamp.
close of the Seminole War, he was assigned command of Fort Bridger and sent to the Utah
In 1857â€“58, he served at Camp Floyd
during the Utah
. Camp Floyd the largest concentration of US Troops at any
post prior to the Civil War. While stationed in the desolate Utah
Territory he petitioned, with others, the Grand Lodge of Missouri
to establish a Lodge in the Utah Territory. It was granted the )6th
of March 1859, Rocky Mountain #205 under dispensation from
Missouri, and Cpt. Robinson the first Worshipful Master of the
first Lodge in Utah. In the late 1850s, he was ordered back east
to assume command of Fort
McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Maryland was a border state,
remaining loyal to the Union
despite being a Southern
. Secessionists planned to
seize Fort McHenry, but Robinson made it appear that reinforcements
were imminent for his small 60-man garrison, and was able to retain
control of the fort.
was soon sent to Detroit as an army recruiting officer, and for a short
time, assisted Governor William Dennison in raising
troops in Columbus,
In September 1861, he was appointed as
of the 1st Michigan
Infantry, a regiment
he helped recruit.
That autumn, he was also promoted to Major
of the 2nd U.S. Infantry
concurrent with his assignment in the volunteer army. Within a few months,
he was commanding a brigade of volunteers at
With his vast combat experience and with the growing need in the
expanding army for senior officers, he was promoted again on April
28, 1862, this time as a brigadier general
volunteers, and was transferred soon afterwards to the Army of the Potomac
, where he assumed
command of a brigade in the division
of Philip Kearny
in the III Corps
. He served with distinction during
the Peninsula Campaign
particularly at the Seven Days
. General Kearny lavishly praised Robinson in his
I have reserved General Robinson for the
To him this day is due, above all others in this
division, the honors of this battle.
The attack was on his wing.
Everywhere present, by his personal supervision and
noble example he secured for us the honor of victory.
fought that year during the Northern Virginia Campaign at the Second Battle of Bull Run, but missed the Maryland Campaign as his brigade was not
present. He next fought at the Battle of
Fredericksburg. He was transferred to command of second
division I Corps in time to
participate in Chancellorsville in 1863.
the Battle of
Gettysburg in July 1863, Robinson commanded a division in the
I Corps north of the borough of
He and his men fought well on July 1, but
eventually had to retire through the streets of the town under the
pressure of overwhelming numbers. For his valor and meritorious
performance at Gettysburg, he was brevetted
as a lieutenant colonel
regular army. He was again brevetted, this time to colonel
in the regular army
, for his efforts
during the Mine Run Campaign
the 1864 Battle of the
. In the latter battle, Robinson commanded second
division in the reorganized V Corps
which was composed of his old division plus a brigade of Maryland
Robinson presided over the court-martial
of Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Rowley
for his conduct at Gettysburg.
war he received a Medal of Honor for
his actions during a preliminary action to the Battle of
Spotsylvania Court House, the fight at Alsop's farm at Laurel Hill, Virginia, on May 8, 1864.
According to the official
citation, Robinson "placed himself at the head of the leading
brigade in a charge upon the enemy's breastworks; was severely
wounded." He was brevetted as a major general
in the regular
army. However, having been shot through the left knee and
permanently disabled following its amputation at the thigh,
Robinson never returned to field duty after Alsop's Farm. He
performed administrative duty as a district commander in the
Department of the East
the rest of the war.
remained in the army following the cessation of hostilities and was
assigned command of the Freedman's
Bureau in Federally-occupied North Carolina.
In July 1866, he was promoted to full
colonel in the regular army, and mustered out of the volunteer army
on September 1, 1866. In 1867, he was promoted to command of the
Military Department of the South. The following year, he was again
reassigned, this time to lead the Department of the Lakes. Robinson
retired from the U.S. Army on May 6, 1869, receiving a full
commission to the rank of major general.
Robinson, as with many leading political and social figures of his
day, was a Freemason
, becoming a member of
Binghamton Lodge #177 and rising through its ranks.
Robinson, long a popular figure in New York, was elected Lieutenant Governor of New
serving under Republican
John A. Dix
Robinson was active in veterans affairs, and became the president
of the national Grand Army of
from 1877â€“79. A decade later, he was elected as
president of the Society of the Army of the Potomac. In his elder
years, Robinson lost his eyesight and became totally blind.
He died at home at the age of 79 and was buried in Plot Section D,
Lot 12 at Spring Forest
in Binghamton, Broome County, New York.
statue of Robinson stands in Gettysburg
National Military Park near Oak Ridge.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and Organization:
- Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Laurel
Hill, Va., May 8, 1864. Entered service at: Binghamton, N.Y. Birth:
Binghamton, N.Y. Date of issue: March 28, 1894.
- Placed himself at the head of the leading brigade in a charge
upon the enemy's breastworks; was severely wounded.
- Appleton's Cyclopedia
- Official Records
- Army Medal of Honor website M-Z Center of
- Masonic Service Organization of North America
- Retrieved on 2007-11-08