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William Starke Rosecrans (1819–1898)

Affectionately called “Old Rosy” by his troops, William Starke Rosecrans proved to be one of the finest strategists of the war. His successes were great, and he achieved them right from the start. In July 1861, Rosecrans’s brigade won the Battle of Rich Mountain, Virginia, thus securing a Union foothold in territory that would ultimately become the state of West Virginia. His ability to maneuver the enemy was especially evident in the western theater, where he commanded the Army of the Cumberland in the battles of Stones River and Murfreesboro. At Chickamauga in September 1863, however, his army suffered disaster when one of his orders was misconstrued. This allowed the enemy to attack through a wide gap in the federal line. The mistake cost Rosecrans his command and virtually ended his active service in the war.

This likeness of Rosecrans was painted in 1868 by Samuel Price, who, as a colonel in the 21st Kentucky Volunteers, may have known the general during the Civil War. At the time of the picture’s execution, Rosecrans had retired to private life and was serving as the American minister to Mexico.

Samuel Woodson Price (1828–1918)
Oil on canvas, 1868
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Transfer from the National Museum of American History


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