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Henry Martyn Cist
February 20, 1839(1839-02-20) – December 16, 1902 (aged 63)
Place of birth Cincinnati, Ohio
Place of death Italy
Place of burial Spring Grove Cemetery Cincinnati, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861–1866
Rank Brevet Brigadier General
Commands held none
Battles/wars American Civil War
Other work author, lawyer, politician

Henry Martyn Cist (February 20, 1839 – December 16, 1902) was an American soldier, lawyer, and author who became a brevet brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He is most noted for his classic and oft-referenced 1882 book The Army of the Cumberland. In addition, Cist led pioneering efforts to preserve and interpret the sites of the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga.


Early life and career

Henry Cist was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the younger of two sons of Philadelphia-born author Charles Cist and his wife Janet. His paternal grandfather Charles Cist was an immigrant from St. Petersburg, Russia, who was a printer and publisher in Philadelphia.[1]

Cist graduated from Farmers College in 1858, and then studied law. He passed his bar exam and became a practicing attorney.[2]

Civil War service

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Cist enlisted as a private in the three-month 6th Ohio Infantry. When his term of enlistment expired, he was promoted to second lieutenant in the 52nd Ohio Infantry. He later served as post adjutant of Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, after the prisoners of war captured at Fort Donelson were transported there following Ulysses S. Grant's victory in February 1862.[3]

In April 1862, Cist joined the 74th Ohio Infantry as a first lieutenant and became its regimental adjutant, serving under Colonel Granville Moody. He later served as the assistant adjutant general with the rank of captain on the staff of Major General William S. Rosecrans in the Army of the Cumberland. Later he was on the staff of Major General George H. Thomas.[4]

In the omnibus promotions issued by the War Department following the end of the Civil War, Cist received three brevet promotions dating from March 13, 1865, to the ranks of major, colonel, and brigadier general of U. S. Volunteers.

Postbellum career

After mustering out of the army in January 1866, Cist returned to Cincinnati. He established a successful legal practice in that city. He briefly entered politics and lost a hotly contested election for mayor of College Hill, Ohio, that required court action to declare a winner.

In 1882, Cist wrote The Army of the Cumberland (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), what was considered one of the best first-person accounts of that army. He wrote one of the earliest biographies of Union leader "Pap" Thomas, The Life of Gen. George H. Thomas. He also wrote several magazine articles related to Cincinnati during wartime.

Cist turned his interest in history to working to have battlefield sites preserved. He served as director of the Chickamauga Memorial Association in 1889, helping gain Congressional authorization in 1890 for the first military park, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.[5] In 1892 Cist served as president of the Ohio Society, Sons of the American Revolution. It is a heritage organization devoted to celebrating the history of the US and especially the meaning of the American Revolution.[6]

After contracting pneumonia while touring Italy, Cist died at the age of 63. His body was returned to Ohio and buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery.[7]

See also



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