CDV OF GENERAL JOHN E. WOOL

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Item Code: 1139-179

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Full standing studio view of Wool in dress uniform. He wears a double-breasted coat with fringed epaulettes. He also wears a sash, sword belt, and holds his sword in front. Image is clear with very good contrast. Plain mount. Photographer’s backmark, E. Anthony, New York, from a Brady negative.

John Ellis Wool (February 20, 1784 – November 10, 1869) was an officer in the United States Army during three consecutive U.S. wars: the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War. By the time of the Mexican-American War, he was widely considered one of the most capable officers in the army and a superb organizer.

He was one of the four general officers of the United States Army in 1861, and was the one who had the most service. When the war began, Wool, age 77 and a brigadier general for 20 years, commanded the Department of the East. He was the oldest general on either side of the war.

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Wool had just turned 77 years old, two years older than commander-in-chief of the US Army Winfield Scott. Unlike Scott, who suffered from obesity, gout, and other ailments, Wool was still reasonably fit and could mount a horse.

John Ellis Wool was named commander of the U.S. Army Department of Virginia, an office that he would hold until June 1862. He moved to equip some of the first regiments sent from New York to the nation's capital and his quick and decisive moves secured Fort Monroe, Virginia, for the Union when other military installations in the South were falling to Confederate forces. The fort guarded the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay and the James River, overlooking Hampton Roads and the Gosport Navy Yard, which the Confederates had seized. President Lincoln personally witnessed the capture of Norfolk and afterwards rewarded Wool by promoting him to a full major general in the regular army thereby becoming only the 23rd man to hold this rank since its creation in 1791.

Deciding that Wool should have a less demanding assignment at his advanced age, the president transferred him to be the 2nd Commander of the Middle Department in June 1862, which then became the VIII Corps on July 22, 1862. Wool then served as the 1st Commander of the U.S. Army 8th Corps until December 22, 1862. On January 3, 1863, he again assumed command of the Department of the East where he served until July 18, 1863.

But eventually Wool managed to find his way back into action. After the Battle of Gettysburg, he led troops diverted from that region in military operations to regain control in New York City during and after the draft riots in July of that year. Despite the tiny force he had on hand, Wool managed to contain the situation until reinforcements arrived.

On August 1, President Lincoln sent an order retiring Wool from service after 51 years in the Army. At the age of 79, he was the oldest general officer to execute active command in either army during the war. Wool lived in Troy, New York for the remaining five years of his life, dying on November 10, 1869. He was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery.

This image was part of the Ray Richey collection. [jet] [ph:L]

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