Howard, Oliver Otis

Howard, Oliver Otis,

1830–1909, Union general in the Civil War, founder of Howard Univ.Howard University,
at Washington, D.C.; coeducational; with federal support. It was founded in 1867 by Gen. Oliver O. Howard of the Freedmen's Bureau, to provide education for newly emancipated slaves. A normal and preparatory department was opened the same year.
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, b. Leeds, Maine, grad. Bowdoin College, 1850, and West Point, 1854. Made a brigadier general of volunteers (Sept., 1861), he fought in the East from the first battle of Bull Run through the Gettysburg campaignGettysburg campaign,
June–July, 1863, series of decisive battles of the U.S. Civil War. The Road to Gettysburg

After his victory in the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate general Robert E. Lee undertook a second invasion of the North.
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. Howard lost his right arm at Fair Oaks in the Peninsular campaign (1862). His 11th Corps was completely routed by Stonewall Jackson's flank attack in the battle of ChancellorsvilleChancellorsville, battle of,
May 2–4, 1863, in the American Civil War. Late in Apr., 1863, Joseph Hooker, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, moved against Robert E.
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. On the first day at Gettysburg, Howard, assuming command after J. F. ReynoldsReynolds, John Fulton,
1820–63, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Lancaster, Pa. He distinguished himself in the Mexican War. In the Civil War, Reynolds was made (Aug., 1861) a brigadier general of volunteers.
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 was killed, was driven back with heavy losses to Cemetery Hill. His corps constituted part of the Union reinforcements under Hooker in the Chattanooga campaignChattanooga campaign,
Aug.-Nov., 1863, military encounter in the American Civil War. Chattanooga, Tenn., which commanded Confederate communications between the East and the Mississippi River and was also the key to loyal E Tennessee, had been an important Union objective as
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. In the Atlanta campaign he commanded the Army of the Tennessee after the death of J. B. McPhersonMcPherson, James Birdseye,
1828–64, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Sandusky co., Ohio. After teaching (1853–54) at West Point, he worked on various engineering projects.
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, and he led it in Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas.

President Andrew Johnson made Howard, who was devoted to the cause of African-American betterment, chief commissioner of the Freedmen's BureauFreedmen's Bureau,
in U.S. history, a federal agency, formed to aid and protect the newly freed blacks in the South after the Civil War. Established by an act of Mar. 3, 1865, under the name "bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands," it was to function for one year
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 in May, 1865. The bureau, under difficult circumstances, provided necessary and useful services. Although some officials were dishonest, the corruption has sometimes been overstated. Howard himself was honest; but he was not an able administrator. A founder (1867) of Howard Univ. (named for him), he was its president (1869–73). He later helped to found Lincoln Memorial Univ. in Tennessee.

As commander of the Dept. of the Columbia (1874–81), Howard directed several campaigns against the Native Americans and negotiated with Chief JosephJoseph
(Chief Joseph), c.1840–1904, chief of a group of Nez Percé. On his father's death in 1871, Joseph became leader of one of the groups that refused to leave the land ceded to the United States by the fraudulently obtained treaty of 1863.
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 in 1877. In 1886 he was promoted to major general and assigned to command the Division of the East; he held this post until his retirement in 1894. He wrote biographies of Chief Joseph (1881) and Zachary Taylor (1892), as well as Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known (1908) and an autobiography (1907).


See biography by J. A. Carpenter (1964); study by W. S. McFeely (1968).

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Howard, Oliver Otis

(1830–1909) soldier; born in Leeds, Maine. He graduated from Bowdoin College and then West Point (1854). Stonewall Jackson's famous flank attack routed Howard's XI Corps at Chancellorsville (May 1863), and his command gave way before Confederate assaults on the first day at Gettysburg two months later. Transferred to the West, he led a wing of Gen. William Sherman's army in the March to the Sea (1864). An officer of strong humanitarian and religious convictions, Howard headed the Freedman's Bureau (1865–72). He helped found Howard University in Washington, D.C., which is named for him, and he served as its first president (1869–74). He took part in the Nez Perce Indian war (1877) and served as superintendent of West Point (1881–82). After retiring from the army (1894), he was involved in various educational and religious projects. He also wrote on historical and military subjects and published a two-volume autobiography.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.