b. Sept. 6, 1819,
Kingston Township, Ohio, U.S.d. March 11, 1898, Redondo Junction,
Calif. Union general and excellent strategist early in the American
Civil War (1861-65); after his defeat in the Battle of Chickamauga
(September 1863), he was relieved of his command.
Graduated from the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1842, Rosecrans served
12 years as an army officer and then resigned to become an architect
and civil engineer in Ohio and Virginia. Returning to active service
upon the outbreak of the war, he served under Gen. George B.
McClellan and Gen. John Pope, each of whom he succeeded when he
moved east to larger commands. During 1862 Rosecrans led Union
forces to victory in the battles of Iuka and Corinth, Miss., after
which he moved on to Nashville, Tenn., to take command of the Army
of the Cumberland. He fought well at the intense but indecisive
Battle of Stones River, or Murfreesboro (Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 2,
About this time,
Rosecrans' earlier aggressive quality seemed to give way to an
excess of caution and a disposition to worry and to argue with his
superiors, who he felt were hampering the effectiveness of his
command. Finally, on June 23, 1863, after six months of delay in the
face of official pressure to take the offensive, he began an advance
that forced Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg into Chattanooga, Tenn.,
and then maneuvered him out of the city without a battle. There his
customary hesitancy vanished, and he followed Bragg, who turned upon
him and precipitated the bloody Battle of Chickamauga (September
19-20). An ill-advised move opened a gap in Rosecrans' lines and
allowed Southern forces to pour through and put to rout part of his
army, which was driven back into Chattanooga. Only the strong stand
of Gen. George H. Thomas on the North's left averted complete
defeat. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was now charged with the relief and
defense of the besieged city; Grant promptly removed Rosecrans,
ending any important role for him in the war.
his army commission in 1867, serving as minister to Mexico during
the next two years. Later he represented California in the U.S.
House of Representatives (1881-85) and served as register of the
U.S. Treasury (1885-93).