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Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum

John C. Tidball

John C. Tidball
1825 - 1906

from The New York Times, May 16, 1906:


He Served in the Army Nearly Sixty Years, and Did It Gallantly.

Brig. Gen. John Caldwell Tidball, United States Army, retired, one of the few remaining leading army officers in the civil war, died yesterday afternoon at his residence, 210 Walnut Street, Montclair, at the age of 81. Gen. Tidball was born near Wheeling, West Va. He was graduated from the Military Academy in 1848. He served in the Florida hostilities against the Seminole Indians, and accompanied an exploring expedition to California in 1853-4. In 1859 he was sent on the expedition to Harper's Ferry to suppress John Brown's raid. He served all through the civil war, being brevetted five times for gallant and meritorious conduct on the field, and being complimented personally by President Lincoln for his work at Gettysburg, where he was in command of the Second Brigade Horse Artillery. He became a Brigadier General in 1865.

After the civil war Gen. Tidball was in active service for forty years, and was assigned to almost every army post from Alaska to Texas. He was the first Governor of Alaska, and lived there for six years. He was Commandant at West Point for many years, and was Commandant at the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Va., and reorganized and brought that institution to a high state of perfection.

Gen. Tidball was married twice. His first wife was Miss Mary Davis, daughter of Capt. Davis, United States Army. He afterward married Mary Langdon Dana, daughter of Gen. N.J.T. Dana, United States Army. He is survived by two daughters, Miss Mabel Tidball and Mrs. Robert S. Potter of Brownsville, New York, and two sons, Prof. John S. Tidball of the Columbus (Ohio) State University and Lieut. William Tidball of the Artillery Corps. He will be buried at West Point.


"No Disgrace to My Country": The Life of John C. Tidball

by Eugene C. Tidball.

Illustrated, endnotes, bibliography, index, 564 pp., 2002. Kent State University Press, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242, $49 plus shipping. Order a copy by calling 1-800-247-6553.

John C. Tidball remained a middle echelon officer during the entire Civil War period since he chose to remain in the artillery where promotions came slowly. Tidball served in the Army of the Potomac from First Bull Run to Pe-tersburg as a field battery captain, a commander in the horse artillery, then as an artillery corps commander. He was one of the most successful officers at his trade.

"No Disgrace to My Country" is a major study of army life and field commanders during the 19th-century focusing on the stellar career of John Tidball. Graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1848, Tidball served in a variety of posts and assignments throughout the South and on the Western Frontier assigned to survey parties. Many of his drawings that illustrated the survey reports supplement the text of this book.

Tidball personally witnessed many of the historical events of the turbulent antebellum era. He was present at the announcement of the Dred Scott Decision, his battery was in Charles Town for the hanging of John Brown, and it was in Washington for Lincolnís First Inaugural.

Tidballís war record was impeccable, and his war experiences varied. The majority of his Civil War career, save for brief duty as Commandant of Cadets at West Point, was in the artillery branch. Following the war, Tidball remained in the artillery arm and held a variety of posts including Alaska. He completed his 40 years of military service on the staff of William T. Sherman. Tidball authored the Manual of Heavy Artillery Service and a series of eight articles in The Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States which chronicled "The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865."

Eugene Tidballís book is biography at its best. Using his analytical skills, the author presents, not only a well-developed character study of his subject, but an exceptional study of the 19th-century world of the military in America. As he states in his preface, the author establishes his purpose for the biography, "In some ways John Tidball epitomized, and was representative of these 19th-century professional army officers, but in many ways in his rich and varied career he was exceptional."

John Tidball was an exceptional soldier. Not only was he a dedicated professional, as successfully demonstrated by his biographer, but his voluminous writings provide insight into the workings and mind of professional soldiers of that era. Not only did he produce a great legacy of professional military writings, he left vast amounts of personal correspondences and a memoir previously untapped by historians until now. Tidballís writings are perceptive and illuminating. Eugene Tidball made ample use of these sources.

Unfortunately, "No Disgrace to My Country" is marred by a few minor errors. The author continually misspelled the influential USMA instructor Dennis Hart Mahanís name as "Mahon." The 11th New York Fire Zouaves, referred to as "The red-legged New Yorkers...," wore a bluish gray uniform. Confederate batteries on July 1st at Gettysburg were commanded by William "Willie" Pegram, not "John Pegram," and it was David G. McIntosh, not "Lucas McIntosh." These errors do not, however, detract from the overall strengths of this book.

Eugene C. Tidball has written a very readable and wonderfully profound biographical study and a fascinating and comprehensive insight into the 19th-century military establishment in America. "No Disgrace to My Country" is highly recommended for its sweeping panorama approach. The author has made a judicious use of a treasure of primary writings by his subject. This is a good read for anyone interested in 19th-century American history.

Michael Russert

Michael Russert, a member of the Capital District Civil War Round Table of New York, received his B.S. in history at SUNY and his MALS in Civil War Studies from Empire State College, SUNY. He has written about New York's role in the war.

The papers of John C. Tidball at Gettysburg College

General Tidball is the author of a "Manual of Heavy Artillery Service" which has been adopted by the war department (Washington, 1880).

Roster of personnel serving in the Army of the Potomac at


* (Note: If largest photo version doesn't load, it may be only available on our CD-ROM of the website.)

Main index This page created 2003 October 28