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Brevet Major-General David McMurtrie Gregg, U.S.A.


Brevet Major-General David McMurtrie Gregg was born April 10, 1833, at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where his father, Matthew D. Gregg, practiced law, and where his maternal grandfather, David McMurtrie, had settled before the Revolution. General Gregg is a grandson also of Andrew Gregg, who was in the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1807; in the United States Senate from 1807 to 1813; and secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1820 to 1823. Andrew Gregg's father, also named Andrew, came from Londonderry, Ireland, to Pennsylvania in 1712, and died at Carlisle in 1789. A more remote ancestor was David Gregg, of Argyleshire, Scotland, who was a captain in Cromwell's army. Another military forefather of General Gregg was his great-grandfather, General James Potter, of the Pennsylvania Line, who became vice-president of Pennsylvania in 1781.

Educated at Milnwood, Huntingdon County, and at the University at Lewisburg, young Gregg entered the United States Military Academy at West Point July 1, 1851, graduating in 1855. He was commissioned brevet second lieutenant of dragoons July 1, 1855, and then began his arduous life of the trooper upon the plains of the West and the battle-fields of the Civil War.

Before the war, as an officer of the First Dragoons, Gregg had seen active service in New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington Territory. He was on the Spokane expedition in 1858, and was engaged in the desperate combat at To-hots-nimme, and in the combat at Four Lakes in September, 1858, and other Indian fights.

As captain of the Sixth Cavalry he served in the defenses of Washington from the fall of 1861 until promoted in January, 1862, to be colonel of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, after which he participated in the battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks in May, 1862, and Glendale and Malvern Hill in June and July. In November of that year he was made a brigadier-general and placed in command of the Second Cavalry Division of the Army of the Potomac. In 1863 he took part in Stoneman's Raid, and was at Brandy Station, Aldie, Upperville, Gettysburg (where, on the right flank on July 3, he repulsed Stuart's attempt with four brigades of Confederate cavalry to reach the rear of Meade's army. simultaneously with Pickett's assault in front), Shepherdstown, Culpeper Court-House and Rapidan Station, Sulphur Springs, Auburn and Bristoe Station, and at New Hope Church and Parker's Store in the Mine Run campaign; and in 1864 at Todd's Tavern, in Sheridan's Raid, at Ground-Squirrel Church, Meadow Bridge, Hawes' Shop, Gaines' House, Trevilian Station, Tunstall Station, St. Mary's Church, Warwick Swamp, Darbytown, Lee's Mills, Charles City Road, Deep Bottom, Ream's Station, Peebles' Farm, Vaughn Road, Boydton Plank Road, and Bellefield, besides many minor actions and skirmishes.

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From March 26 to April 6, 1864, he commanded the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and the Second Cavalry Division again from April 6, 1864, to February 3, 1865, in the Richmond campaign, being in command of all the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac from August 1, 1864, to February 3, 1865. In many of the long list of cavalry combats in which he was engaged, General Gregg was in chief command. On August 1, 1864, he had been made brevet major-general United States Volunteers " for highly meritorious and distinguished conduct throughout the campaign, particularly in the reconnaissance on the Charles City Road." On February 3, 1865, he resigned. The war then was practically over. It was simply a question of being in at the finish and gathering the laurels and public applause. Gregg's duty had been done on many hard-fought fields, and he retired to private life.

General Gregg was appointed by the President United States Consul at Prague in 1874, but he resigned the position in the same year, returned to the United States, and subsequently resided at Reading, Pennsylvania.

Upon the death of General Hancock, in 1886, General Gregg succeeded him as Commander of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, which office he still holds. In 1891, though without political aspirations, he was elected auditor-general of Pennsylvania by an immense majority.

General Gregg is almost the last survivor of the long list of distinguished Pennsylvania soldiers who held high command in the Union army.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.


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