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Who was Henry Jackson Hunt?

Updated on December 3, 2016

Henry Jackson Hunt (1819-1889), American general, who was the most capable artilleryman of the Civil War. He was born on September 14, 1819, in Detroit and graduated from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in 1839. In the Mexican War he had two brevet promotions. In 1856 he was one of three officers named to study and revise artillery tactics in the Army.

Hunt took part in the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). He was chief of artillery of the defenses of Washington until September 1861, when, as a colonel, he commanded the artillery reserve of the Army of the Potomac. For his work in the Peninsular Campaign (1862), notably his skillful direction of gunfire at Malvern Hill, he was made brigadier general.

Named chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac before the Battle of Antietam, Hunt served notably in all major battles of that army. His concentration of 147 guns at Fredericksburg dominated all the field within range.

Hunt's handling of the artillery at Gettysburg was noteworthy. By suspending fire and then reopening when Pickett's charge was launched, his guns played a decisive role in its repulse. On June 27, 1864, he was placed in charge of siege operations at Petersburg, Va. He was made a major general in March 1865. Hunt retired in 1883 and died in Washington on February 11, 1889.


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