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Thomas Casimer Devin
December 10, 1822(1822-12-10) – April 4, 1878 (aged 55)
Thomas C. Devin.jpg
Gen. T.C. Devin
Nickname Buford's Hard Hitter
Place of birth New York City
Place of death New York City
Place of burial West Point Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861-1878
Rank Major General
Commands held 6th New York Volunteer Cavalry
3rd U. S. Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Indian Wars

Union Cavalry General Thomas C. Devin (with long beard) and staff

Thomas Casimer Devin (December 10, 1822 – April 4, 1878) was an United States Army officer and general. He commanded Union cavalry during the American Civil War and cavalry regiments during the Indian Wars.

Contents

Early life

Born in New York City to Irish immigrant parents, Devin was a house painter and partner in a paint and varnish company with his brother John for much of his early life, while also serving as a lieutenant colonel in the New York State Militia.

Civil War

After the start of the Civil War, Devin formed his militia cavalry company into "Captain Devin's Independent Company" and served as its captain. Late that year, he became Colonel of the 6th New York Volunteer Cavalry, nicknamed the "2nd Ira Harris Guards", which he would lead for the next year.

The regiment's first important service was in the Maryland Campaign of 1862. At the Battle of Antietam, one of its squadrons was involved in the first attacks of the day. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Devin inherited command of David McMurtrie Gregg's cavalry brigade, when the latter took charge of the brigade of George Dashiell Bayard, who had been killed by Confederate artillery fire. At the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, his small brigade was the only cavalry not detached for Brig. Gen. George Stoneman's raid and he successfully led three Union Corps on the stealthy flanking march that preceded the battle. The men of the brigade repeatedly distinguished themselves in the heavy fighting of the battle. They suffered almost 200 casualties in the battle, an unprecedented loss for a cavalry brigade. Devin also led his brigade in the Battle of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863).

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Devin's brigade served in Brig. Gen. John Buford's cavalry division that began the battle on July 1, 1863. Devin had become a favorite of Buford's and his rugged leadership style lent him the nickname "Buford's Hard Hitter." As the Confederate attacks began, Devin's brigade was screening the northwest and northern road approaches to Gettysburg, and successfully delayed the arrival of Jubal A. Early's division. Friendly fire from Union artillery on Cemetery Hill caused most of his brigade to withdraw into the town of Gettysburg and they later skirmished with the Confederates as they entered the town. All of Buford's cavalry division was withdrawn from the battlefield by Cavalry Corps commander Alfred Pleasonton on the afternoon of July 2.

After Gettysburg, Devin continued to command a brigade and sometimes a division in the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In the spring of 1864, he participated in the raid on Richmond by Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry. In August he accompanied the Cavalry Corps to the Shenandoah Valley, where they fought under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan during the Valley Campaigns of 1864. When Wesley Merritt became a corps commander, Devin inherited command of his division. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers for his part in the Battle of Cedar Creek, to brevet major general on March 13, 1865, brevet colonel in the regular army for Fisher's Hill, and brevet brigadier general in the regular army for Sayler's Creek. After the war he was promoted to major general of volunteers.

Postbellum

Devin remained in the regular army after the Civil War and died, on sick leave from active duty, as Colonel of the 3rd United States Cavalry, after commanding the 8th United States Cavalry. Devin was initially interred in Cavalry Cemetery on Long Island, but upon his wife's death in 1897, both were interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York, very near his old friend and commander John Buford.

In popular media

Devin was portrayed by David Carpenter in the 1993 film Gettysburg, based on Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels.

See also

References

  • Boatner, Mark M. III, The Civil War Dictionary: Revised Edition, David McKay Company, Inc., 1984.
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Petruzzi, J. David, "General John Buford's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign"
  • Tagg, Larry, The Generals of Gettysburg, Savas Publishing, 1998, ISBN 1-882810-30-9.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
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