photo of general      MAJOR GENERAL
   William Starke Rosecrans

Line of Descent:
Guillaume (Guleyn) Vigne and Adrienne Cuvelier
Dirck Volckertszen and Christine Vigne
Magdalene Dirckse and Herman Hendricksen Rosenkranz [of Kingston, NY]
Dirk Rosenkrans and Wyntjie Kierstede
Jacobus Rosenkrans and Sarah Decker
Capt. Daniel Rosenkrans and Catrina (Catherine) Cool
Daniel Rosenkrans and Thankful Wilcox
Crandall Rosenkrans and Jemima Hopkins
Maj. Gen. William Starke Rosenkrans (Rosecrans)

A Bright Future and Early Successes

William S. Rosecrans was born at Kingston, Ohio on September 6, 1819. He graduated from West Point in 1842 and spent 12 years as an Army officer. He was a private businessman in Ohio when the outbreak of the Civil War brought him back to military service in the Union Army, volunteering as an aid to General McClellan.

The Fighting General

In July 1861 he won a battle at Rich Mountain, West Virginia. He succeeded McClellan as head of the Department of the Ohio, and kept Robert E. Lee out of West Virginia. In 1862 Rosecrans was assigned command of the Army of the Mississippi. He became known as the Union's "fighting general" when he defeated Confederate armies at Iuka (Sep 19-20) and Corinth (Oct 3-4) in Mississippi. He then moved on to Nashville to become commander of the Army of the Cumberland.

Stones River

A costly and non-decisive battle in a cold rain at Stones River (Dec 31, 1862 - Jan 2, 1863) seemed to have changed Rosecrans' life and sapped his will to fight. Midway through the battle, another general noted his "usually florid face had lost its ruddy color, and his anxious eyes told that the disasters of the morning were testing his powers to the very verge of endurance." Almost a third of his 44,000 men were killed, wounded or missing. The Confederate general, Bragg, lost more than a third of his 34,000 men. Some individual regiments lost up to 70% of their men. After the battle, Abraham Lincoln thanked Rosecrans for his "hard-earned victory" and told him that had Stones River "been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over [it]."

Chattanooga and Chickamauga

The bloody realities of war continued to take their toll on him. Rosecrans reacted by becoming worrisome, hesitant and cautious. For months he delayed before engaging in another campaign. On September 8, 1863, his army of 80,000 successfully forced the outnumbered Confederates out of Chattanooga without firing a shot. But then, abandoning his usual caution, he took part of his force and pursued the rebels southward. By September 18th the Confederate army (again under Bragg) had been reinforced with units from Mississippi and Virginia, and with 65,000 men was now ready to take the offensive. Rosecrans finally saw this and began to retreat to Chattanooga, but the Confederates attacked at Chickamauga Creek. On the third day of the battle the Confederates found a weak point in the Union lines and broke through, forcing most of the Union army into a disorderly retreat. 34,624 soldiers on both sides were killed, wounded or missing in this battle.


Back in Chattanooga, Rosecrans was numbed and slow to recover from the beating he had taken. The war had defeated him. He seemed unable to regain his confidence. When asked to report on his plans for action against the Confederates, he replied with vague and confusing messages. Lincoln came to the conclusion that he was acting "confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head" and ordered Ulysses S. Grant to dismiss him from command. Rosecrans gained some redemption later in the war. He was given command of the Department of the Missouri in 1864, and repelled an attempted invasion of that state by Confederate General Sterling Price. In 1867 he resigned his army commission for the last time.

Public Servant

President Andrew Johnson appointed him Ambassador to Mexico in 1868. Rosecrans served in Mexico for two years, and then became involved in mining
Rosecrans' tombstone at Arlington
interests there. He moved to California, continued to be involved in mining, and was elected to Congress in 1880 and 1882. President Grover Cleveland appointed him Registrar of the Treasury in 1885, a post he held until 1893. He retired to California, where he died on March 11, 1898. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.