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Garrard, Kenner (30 Sept. 1827-15 May 1879), soldier and businessman, was
born in Fairfield, Kentucky, the son of Jeptha Dudley Garrard, a lawyer, and
Sarah Bella Ludlow. Garrard, although born in Kentucky at his paternal
grandfather's home, was raised in his parents'
home in Cincinnati, Ohio. His maternal grandfather, Israel Ludlow, was a
prominent real estate investor in Cincinnati. Garrard entered Harvard
University at Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the class of 1848 but left
after he received an appointment to the U.S.
Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated from West Point in
1851 and was commissioned in the artillery but transferred to the cavalry in
1852. He served with the First Regiment of Dragoons (a form of mounted
infantry) until the outbreak of the Civil War on the frontier.
During the Texas secession crisis, Garrard was captured in San Antonio on
23 April 1861 by forces from the Texas state militia not yet under
Confederate command. He was soon paroled and allowed to return to the North,
but he was not exchanged until 27 August 1862. In the interim, he was
briefly the commissary general of the army and then commandant at West
Point. Upon his exchange he was immediately appointed commander of the 146th
New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, assigned to the Army of the Potomac.
In 1862 and 1863 he participated in the campaigns of Fredericksburg and
On 2 July 1863 Garrard distinguished himself in the critical fighting at
Little Round Top, key to the Union army's defense at Gettysburg. After his
brigade commander (Stephen H. Weed, commander of the Third Brigade, Second
Division, V Corps) was killed, Garrard assumed command of the brigade and
defended his position despite furious Confederate assaults. For his action
at Gettysburg, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 23 July
1863. In late 1863 he commanded his brigade in battles at Rappahannock
Station and Mine Run. He then served briefly with the cavalry bureau in
In 1864 Garrard transferred to the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga,
where he was assigned command of the Second Cavalry Division then preparing
for General William Tecumseh Sherman's campaign against Atlanta. In command
of cavalry over rugged terrain and under the more mobile conditions of
fighting in the western theater of the war, Garrard did not command with the
same effectiveness he had demonstrated at Gettysburg. His cavalry had
chronic problems with logistical support and was constantly outmaneuvered by
Confederate cavalry under the veteran command of General Joseph Wheeler.
Nonetheless, Garrard learned as the campaign progressed and received
Sherman's personal congratulations for his raid on Covington, Georgia, which
cut a major Confederate railroad and resulted in the confiscation of
thousands of bales of enemy cotton. For his actions at Covington, he was
breveted colonel in the regular army on 22 July 1864.
After the fall of Atlanta in September 1864 Garrard was reassigned to an
infantry command, the Second Division of the XVI Corps, to take part in
Major General George H. Thomas's defense of central Tennessee. At the battle
of Nashville (15-16 Dec. 1864) his division inflicted heavy losses on the
Confederates and took much of an entire division prisoner as Confederate
general John B. Hood's army disintegrated on the second day of the conflict.
For his actions at Nashville, Garrard was breveted major general of
volunteers and brigadier general in the regular army.
After Nashville Garrard participated in several other minor actions that
extinguished Confederate resistance east of the Mississippi River. He took
part in the campaign against Mobile, Alabama, in early 1865, and he
commanded at the capture of Blakeley, Alabama, and then the capture of
Montgomery, Alabama, during April 1865. He ended the war breveted as a major
general in the regular army.
After the Civil War Garrard served only briefly on occupation duty in the
South, commanding the District of Mobile until August 1865, when he was
mustered out of volunteer service and reverted to the regular army. He
served as assistant inspector general of the Department of the Missouri
under General Sherman until
9 November 1866, when he resigned from the regular army. Following his
resignation, Garrard returned to his family home in Cincinnati, where he was
actively involved in managing his family's extensive real estate holdings in
the city. For the rest of his life, he promoted cultural activities in
Cincinnati, serving as director of the Cincinnati Music Festival and with
the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio. He died in Cincinnati,
having never married.
Garrard's reputation in the Civil War was decidedly mixed. Like any number
of other junior commanders in the Army of the Potomac, he demonstrated great
courage and tenacity under fire in the infantry fighting at Gettysburg in
1863. Cavalry command in the West required different qualities, however, and
a scholar of the Atlanta campaign has commented that Garrard had "little
aptitude for it" (Castel, p. 116). Indeed, when he returned to command
infantry at the battle of Nashville, his performance was much improved.
Garrard's actions at the battle of Gettysburg are covered in some detail in
Harry W. Pfanz, Gettysburg: The Second Day (1987).
His role in Sherman's army emerges throughout Albert Castel, Decision in the
West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992). Wiley Sword, Embrace an Angry
Wind: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah:
Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville (1992), traces the tactical details of
Garrard's last significant campaign in the Civil War.
See also Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union
Commanders (1964). His obituary is in the Cincinnati Enquirer, 16 May 1879.
James K. Hogue
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James K. Hogue. "Garrard, Kenner";
American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
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