Edwin H. Stoughton

Edwin Henry Stoughton (June 23, 1838  December 25, 1868), was appointed a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War but his appointment expired after it was not confirmed bu the U.S. Senate. Four days later, on March 8, 1863, he was captured by Confederate partisan ranger John S. Mosby while asleep at his headquarters in the Virginia village of Fairfax Court House. The incident became well known and Stoughton became an object of ridicule as a result. He was included in a prisoner exchange two months later, but resigned his commission after he was not reappointed as a brigadier general.

Edwin Henry Stoughton
Born(1838-06-23)June 23, 1838
Chester, Vermont
DiedDecember 25, 1868(1868-12-25) (aged 30)
Dorchester, Massachusetts[1]
Immanuel Cemetery, Rockingham, Vermont[2]
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service18591863
Rank Brigadier general (appointed, not confirmed)
Commands held4th Vermont Infantry
2nd Vermont Brigade
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
  • Peninsula Campaign
Other workAttorney

Early life and education

Stoughton was born in Chester, Vermont, the son of Henry Evander and Laura (Clark) Stoughton.[3]

Stoughton was appointed a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1854, and graduated with the class of 1859. He served garrison duty as a brevet second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry from July to September 1859. He was promoted to second lieutenant, and transferred to the 6th U.S. Infantry.


American Civil War

Stoughton resigned his regular commission in March 1861, and in September was appointed commander of the 4th Vermont Infantry with the rank of colonel. He was only 23 at the time of his appointment, and said to be the youngest colonel in the army.[4] He led his command in the Peninsula Campaign, and his effective performance led to his selection for promotion and command of a brigade.

In November 1862, he was appointed brigadier general of Volunteers, and he assumed command of the 2nd Vermont Brigade on December 7, replacing Colonel Asa P. Blunt. Stoughton's brother, Charles B. Stoughton, assumed command of the 4th Vermont Infantry in his stead. Stoughton's appointment was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate and it expired March 4, 1863, less than a week before Mosby's Fairfax Court House Raid.[5]

Mosby's Rangers (led by Confederate officer John S. Mosby) led a daring raid into Union Territory and captured Stoughton at Fairfax Court House on March 9, 1863. Stoughton had hosted a party for his visiting mother and sister, who were staying at the home of Confederate spy Antonia Ford. After leaving the party, Stoughton retired to a nearby house that served as his headquarters. Mosby allegedly found Stoughton in bed, supposedly rousing him with a slap to his rear. Upon being so rudely awakened, the general shouted, "Do you know who I am?" Mosby quickly replied, "Do you know Mosby, general?" "Yes! Have you got the rascal?" "No but he has got you!" In his own written account of Stoughton's capture, 1888's Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Mosby did not mention the supposed "spanking" incident.

Allegedly, Stoughton was not popular with the officers and men of the brigade, and few mourned his loss. U.S. President Lincoln, on hearing of the capture, said that "he did not so much mind the loss of a brigadier general, for he could make another in five minutes; 'but those horses cost $125 apiece!'"[6] Colonel Blunt assumed command of the brigade again, turning it over to the new commander, Brigadier General George J. Stannard, on April 20, who led the brigade until the Battle of Gettysburg.

After a two-month stay in Richmond's Libby Prison, Stoughton was exchanged, but saw no further service. The U.S. Senate had not confirmed his initial appointment and he was not re-appointed. He resigned from the Union Army in May 1863 and moved to New York.[5]

Later life and death

Stoughton was an attorney in New York City after the war, practicing with his father and with his uncle, Edwin W. Stoughton. He died of tuberculosis in Dorchester, Massachusetts on December 25, 1868. He is buried in Immanuel Cemetery, Rockingham, Vermont. The Grand Army of the Republic post in Bellows Falls, Vermont was named for him.[7]


  1. Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915, Deaths registered in the Town of Dorchester for the Year 1868, entry for Edwin H. Stoughton, retrieved December 18, 2013
  2. Thomas E. Spencer, Where They're Buried, 1998, page 624
  3. "The Genealogy Page". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  4. Crockett, iii:516
  5. Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 611
  6. Benedict, ii:429
  7. The Vermonter magazine, A Historic Spot Marked, October 1902, page 103

See also


  • Benedict, G. G., Vermont in the Civil War. A History of the part taken by the Vermont Soldiers And Sailors in the War For The Union, 1861-5. Burlington, VT.: The Free Press Association, 1888, i:105, 157-165, 259-260, 293, 321; ii:404, 410, 419-422, 426-430, 778.
  • Crockett, Walter Hill, Vermont The Green Mountain State, New York: The Century History Company, Inc., 1921, iii:516, 537, 541, 557.
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Peck, Theodore S., compiler, Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers and lists of Vermonters Who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, 1861-66. Montpelier, VT.: Press of the Watchman Publishing Co., 1892, pp. 106, 108, 456, 682, 749.

Further reading

  • Coffin, Howard, Full Duty: Vermonters in the Civil War. Woodstock, VT.: Countryman Press, 1995.
  • -----. Nine Months to Gettysburg. The Vermonters Who Broke Pickett's Charge. Woodstock, VT.: Countryman Press, 1997.
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