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Thomas Devin

Thomas Casimer Devin
Gen. T.C. Devin
Nickname(s) Buford's Hard Hitter
Born (1822-12-10)December 10, 1822
New York City
Died April 4, 1878(1878-04-04) (aged 55)
New York City
Place of burial West Point Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861-1878
Rank Brevet Major General
Commands held 6th New York Volunteer Cavalry
3rd U. S. Cavalry

American Civil War

Indian Wars

Thomas Casimer Devin (December 10, 1822 – April 4, 1878) was an United States Army officer and general. He commanded Union cavalry during the American Civil War and during the Indian Wars.


  • Early life 1
  • Civil War 2
  • Postbellum career 3
  • In popular media 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • Notes 7

Early life

Born in New York City to Irish parents, Devin came from a martial family with ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War and French and Indian War. Devin was a house painter and partner in a paint and varnish company with his brother John for much of his early life, while also serving as a lieutenant colonel in the New York State Militia.

Civil War

After the start of the Civil War, Devin formed his militia cavalry company into "Captain Devin's Independent Company" and served as its captain. Late that year, he became Colonel of the 6th New York Volunteer Cavalry, nicknamed the "2nd Ira Harris Guards", which he would lead for the next year.

The regiment's first important service was in the Battle of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863), and took command of Brig. Gen. John Buford's division while Buford commanded the entire right wing of the two-pronged attack on Confederate cavalry. While observing the skirmish line early in the fighting, Devin had his horse shot out from under him.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Devin's brigade served in Brig. Gen. John Buford's cavalry division that began the battle on July 1, 1863. Devin had become a favorite of Buford's and his rugged leadership style lent him the nickname "Buford's Hard Hitter," while his own men like to refer to him as "Uncle Tommy." As the Confederate attacks began, Devin's brigade was screening the northwest and northern road approaches to Gettysburg, and successfully delayed the arrival of Jubal A. Early's division. Friendly fire from Union artillery on Cemetery Hill caused most of his brigade to withdraw into the town of Gettysburg and they later skirmished with the Confederates as they entered the town. The two brigades of Buford's cavalry division present on the field on July 1 and 2 was withdrawn from the battlefield by Cavalry Corps commander Alfred Pleasonton on the afternoon of July 2.

After Gettysburg, Devin continued to command a brigade and sometimes a division in the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In the spring of 1864, he participated in the raid on Richmond by Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry. In August he accompanied the Cavalry Corps to the Shenandoah Valley, where they fought under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan during the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Devin was wounded once during the war, a wound in the foot on August 16, 1864 at the fighting at Guard Hill, Virginia or Crooked Run, Virginia. When Wesley Merritt became the Cavalry Corps commander, Devin inherited command of his division. On November 19, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Devin brigadier general of volunteers for his part in the Battle of Cedar Creek, to rank from October 19, 1864. The President submitted the nomination on December 12, 1864 and the U.S. Senate confirmed it on February 14, 1865.[1]

Devin was mustered out of the volunteer service on January 15, 1866.[1] On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Devin for appointment to the brevet grade of major general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on March 12, 1866.[2] President Johnson also appointed Devin brevet colonel in the regular army for Fisher's Hill, to rank from March 2, 1867.[3] On March 26, 1867, President Johnson nominated Devin for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general in the regular army for Sayler's Creek, to rank from March 2, 1867 and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on April 5, 1867.[4]

Postbellum career

Devin obtained a commission in the Regular Army after the Civil War under the provisions of the Army Act of 1866. This Act required that the officer ranks of the new infantry and cavalry regiments be filled by a certain percentage of officers from the Volunteer regiments raised during the Civil War. Ending the war as a Brigadier General and Brevet Major General, Devin became a Lieutenant Colonel and was assigned to the 8th U.S. Cavalry. Initially serving with part of the regiment in New Mexico, Devin assumed command of the Subdistrict of Prescott in Arizona in late 1867. He died of stomach cancer and exposure, on sick leave from active duty, as Colonel of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry. Devin was initially interred in Cavalry Cemetery on Long Island, but upon his wife's death in 1897, both were interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York, very near his old friend and commander John Buford.

In popular media

Devin was portrayed by David Carpenter in the 1993 film Gettysburg, based on Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels.

See also

Further reading

  • Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: McKay, 1988. ISBN 0-8129-1726-X. First published 1959 by McKay.
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Petruzzi, J. David, "General John Buford's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign." at the Wayback Machine (archived January 26, 2007)
  • Tagg, Larry. The Generals of Gettysburg. Campbell, CA: Savas Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-882810-30-9.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.


  1. ^ a b Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 720
  2. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 711
  3. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 208
  4. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 733
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