Regiment : United States. Army--Corps, XI (1862-1865)
Oliver Otis Howard's war record is one of notoriously mixed success. A graduate of West Point with the class of 1854, Howard was teaching math at the Academy when he resigned his appointment to assume field command with the 3rd Maine Infantry in June, 1861. By September, he was promoted to Brigadier General, assuming command of the 2nd Division, II Corps during the Peninsular Campaign. Twice wounded at Fair Oaks, Howard lost his right arm, but continued in the service, and by November, 1862, he had been promoted to Major General commanding II Corps (January and February, 1863) and XI Corps (April-September, 1863).
During the period of Howard's command, and particularly while in Virginia, XI Corps was widely considered one of the least reliable and least effective Corps in the Army of the Potomac. Whether this reputation is deserved or not, at Chancellorsville, Howard was widely accused of having failed to capitalize on Lee's famous decision to split his forces and at Gettysburg, the collapse of XI Corps on the first day of fighting at Cemetery Hill resulted in over 4,000 men being captured, with many more straggling. In September, Howard's Corps was ordered to join the Army of the Cumberland, and remained under Sherman's command through the victorious Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea and March through the Carolina's.
Howard is as well remembered for his post-war activities as he is for his war-time exploits. Following work with the Freedmen's Bureau, he assisted in the founding of Howard University and became its president for five years. He later returned to active duty with the regular army, where he took part in suppressing Indian resistance in the plains states and southwest.
The reports of XI Corps consist of the official reports submitted by Maj. Gen. O.O. Howard to Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac, between April and July, 1863. These manuscript copies document two of the seminal encounters of the war, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, with Howard's opinions on policy and his explanations of his Corps' harshly criticized performance. The final item in the collection includes sketchy records following the reassignment of XI Corps to the Army of the Cumberland and their role during the Chattanooga Campaign of 1863. Among engagements mentioned are Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, both in almost cryptic fashion.