David Sloane Stanley
David Sloane Stanley was born on June 1, 1828, in Cedar Valley, Wayne County, Ohio. He grew up on a farm and was apprenticed to a physician when he was fourteen years old. Stanley was interested in a military career, however, and was excited to receive an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
David S. Stanley graduated from West Point in 1852 (the class known for having produced fifteen future generals), and became an officer in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. He went to the Western frontier to survey railroad routes in Arkansas, California, Texas, and Kansas. He refused a commission in the Confederate army in 1861, and fought for the Union instead.
Stanley was stationed at Fort Washita in Indian Territory at the beginning of the Civil War. He led his men to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In doing so, he fought at several battles in Missouri, including the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, where he guarded the supply trains. In 1862, he assumed command of an infantry division in the Army of the Mississippi. He became chief of cavalry in the Army of the Cumberland later that same year. In 1864, Stanley participated in General William T. Sherman’s march on Atlanta, winning brevet appointments to colonel and brigadier general in the Regular Army. He assumed command of IV Corps and was wounded in the neck at the Battle of Franklin during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign in Tennessee. At the same time, he also had his horse shot out from under him. For leading one of his brigades in a successful counterattack during a critical moment in the fighting at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, Stanley was presented the Medal of Honor on March 29, 1893.
After the war, David Stanley returned to the American West where he first served as the commander of the occupying force at San Antonio in 1866. He later commanded the 22nd U.S. Infantry, primarily serving in the Dakota Territory until 1874. During this time, while skirmishing against the Sioux, Stanley encountered another Civil War officer, Lieutenant Colonel George Custer. General Stanley had to officially reprimand Custer while under his command for a series of offences.
In 1873, General Stanley commanded the Yellowstone Expedition through several uncharted areas. His favorable reports on the country led to the subsequent settlement of the region.
In 1870, Stanley and his regiment were reassigned to Texas to suppress Indian raids in the western portion of the state. He was ordered to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1882, and placed in command of the District of New Mexico. In March 1884, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Regular Army and assigned command of the Department of Texas.
Stanley retired from the Army in June 1892 and later became the governor of the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C. The home was founded in 1851, following the Mexican-American War, for the retirement of homeless and disabled war veterans. In 2001, Congress renamed the U.S. Naval Home and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home the Armed Forces Retirement Home - Gulfport and the Armed Forces Retirement Home - Washington, respectively.
David S. Stanley joined the District of Columbia SAR in 1894. His SAR National number is 6979 and his D.C. Society number is 479. He has two SAR patriot ancestors: one is Nathaniel Stanley who served as a soldier in the Third Company of the Connecticut Line, while the other patriot ancestor is Conrad Peterson, who served as a private in the Virginia Continental Line. Stanley signed his SAR application on March 12, 1894.
David Sloane Stanley died on March 13, 1902, in Washington, D.C., and was interred at the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery with three other Medal of Honor recipients.