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Thomas J. Thorp, U.S.V.
Brigadier-General Thomas J. Thorp, U.S.V.
Brigadier-General Thomas T. Thorp is a grandson of revolutionary
patriots on the side of both his mother and father. He was born in
Granger, Allegany County, State of New York, in 1837, being a brother of
the late Captain Alexander K. Thorp, who was killed in the great cavalry
charge at Winchester, Virginia, September 19, 1864. Also a brother of the
late Senator Simeon Montgomery Thorp, who was killed by the Confederate
forces at the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, in 1863.
He was prepared to enter Union College at Alfred University, being a
member of the class of 1861, but, entering the army at the breaking out of
the great slaveholders' rebellion, he received his diploma in the field.
In response to a call of President Lincoln, he enrolled himself in the
company organized in his native town, which was finally assigned to the
Eighty-fifth New York Regiment of Infantry, which entered the Army of the
During the first Peninsular campaign he won honorable distinction as a
captain at the battle of Fair Oaks, where he was wounded, and at the
conclusion of the Seven Days' battle he was selected by Governor Morgan,
of New York, to fill the position of lieutenant-colonel in the One Hundred
and Thirtieth Regiment, which was also attached to the Army of the Potomac
in September, 1862.
This regiment was composed of the flower of the native-born yeomanry of
Allegany, Livingston, and Wyoming Counties, and to hold an important
position in that regiment required not only executive ability of the first
order, but intelligence, courage, and devotion to the flag of an
unquestioned character; for even in the ranks of this regiment were found
men eminent in scholarship, representing all of the learned professions,
and among the captains were found such men as the venerable and patriotic
Rev. Dr. Joel Wakeman. The position of colonel was filled by an able
officer selected from the regular army, who became a brigadier-general.
The vacancy caused by his promotion was filled by Lieutenant-Colonel
Thorp, who, for gallant and meritorious services on the field of battle,
won his star also. General Thorp was married to the accomplished daughter
of Colonel John Major during the war. The ceremony was novel as it was
impressive and beautiful. It took place in the hollow square of his
regiment, and was performed by one of his captains, the Rev. Dr. Wakeman.
After the battle of Gettysburg the One Hundred and Thirtieth Regiment was
transferred to the cavalry corps by an order from the War Department, and
designated as the First New York Dragoons. General Thorp rendered
honorable services under every commander of the Army of the Potomac, from
first to last, and was absent from the battle-field only when disabled by
wounds, or during a very short period while a prisoner of war, after the
battle of the Wilderness. At Trevilian Station he was severely wounded,
made a prisoner of war, and sent to Macon, Georgia. While a prisoner of
war he delivered an oration on the Fourth of July, which, doubtless, will
never be forgotten for its fire and eloquence by the sixteen hundred
officers who were also prisoners of war. This outburst of patriotic
sentiment, uttered in the very heart of the Confederacy and in the very
mouth of the cannon guarding the prisoners, was treated by the prison
commander as insubordination, but it was characteristic of General Thorp,
who, in the night, jumped from the train going from Savannah to Charleston
in his effort to rejoin his command in front of Richmond.
||The sterling qualities which
prompted thousands of the heroic defenders of our Union and
constitutional liberty to stand four square to the brunt of battle
were also efficacious with General Thorp, who, from the ranks to the
proud position of general, was faithful to the end of the war. When
peace came, General Thorp became interested in educational work, and
was called to an important educational trust in the city of Buffalo
by the eminent Dr. Thomas Lothrop, superintendent of public
instruction of that city. Closing his educational engagements,
lasting several years, he turned his attention to the subject of
applied mechanics, and received several important patents for
inventions from the government, and is at present interested in
their development in the city of Chicago.
General Thorp's home is in Oregon, located at the beautiful city of
Forest Grove, the seat of the Pacific University, where his two children,
Miss Bessie Maybelle and Stephen Montgomery Thorp, are being educated.
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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