John R. Brooke bigraphy, stories - Union Army general

John R. Brooke : biography

July 21, 1838 - September 5, 1926

John Rutter (or Ruller) Brooke (July 21, 1838 – September 5, 1926) was a major general in the United States Army during both the American Civil War and the Spanish American War. He served as a military Governor of Puerto Rico and Governor of Cuba.

Early life

Brooke was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was educated in nearby Collegeville and West Chester.

Postbellum career

In 1866, Brooke accepted a commission as the lieutenant colonel of the 37th U.S. Infantry of the regular army. Thirteen years later, he was given the position of colonel of the 13th U.S. Infantry, serving on the frontier in various posts.

In 1888, he was promoted to brigadier general and was in command of the Department of the Platte when the Ghost Dance began in 1890. He was ordered by General Nelson Miles to rush the 7th U.S. Cavalry up to Wounded Knee. He left this command in 1895.

In 1897, he was made a major general and assigned to command the I Corps during the Spanish-American War. In Puerto Rico, he landed in Arroyo with General Hains, and reached Guayama by the time the armistice was signed. When General Miles left the island in October 1898 to return to the United States, Brooke became military governor and head of the army of occupation in the U.S. military government. On the December 6, Brooke was replaced by General Guy Vernon Henry, and by December 13, was named to the same position in Cuba.

He retired July 21, 1902, in Philadelphia, where he lived until his death at age 88 in 1926. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The , launched February 1943, was named in his honor.


Civil War

Brooke's military career began when he joined the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry with the rank of captain in April 1861. In August, he became colonel of the newly raised 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry and served in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign.

He temporarily commanded a brigade during the Battle of Antietam in September of that year. In May 1863, he was given permanent command of a brigade of the 1st Division of the II Corps, which he led in the Battle of Chancellorsville and during the Gettysburg Campaign.

On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, Brooke found himself in the thick of the action when Confederate lieutenant general James Longstreet launched his assault against the Union lines south of Gettysburg. Rushed into action as reinforcements by Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock, Colonel Brooke launched a limited counterattack against oncoming Confederate forces with his brigade in the Wheatfield. Although he was knocked out of action with a severe wound, his men temporarily stopped the Confederates and stabilized the Union line long enough to prevent a breakthrough.

After recovery, Brooke subsequently also fought in the Overland Campaign, including the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House and other battles. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on May 12, 1864. General Brooke was critically wounded, again, at Cold Harbor in June. Brooke led a division in western Virginia late in the war. He was promoted to brevet major general in the volunteer army on August 1, 1864, for his service at Totopotomoy and Cold Harbor, and to brevet brigadier general in the regular army on March 2, 1867, for Spotsylvania Court House.Eicher, p. 145.

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