Jim Jones has done a fantastic job sleuthing out the details of the life of one of the lesser known officers of the 6th (and 4th after the Civil War) U.S. Cavalry, George Cram. Although not terribly popular, and likely would have been voted most likely to be captured by his peers, there are nonetheless many items of interest in his career. Any errors are undoubtedly due to my editing, as Jim turned up a wealth of detail that I had to whittle down to something small enough to post. Unfortunately, George Cram is one of the few remaining officers we have been unable to find a picture of.
George Clarence Cram was born on June 13,1830 in New York City, New York. He was the youngest of five siblings born to Lydia Tucker and Jacob Louis Cram, a distinguished lawyer in New York and perhaps the founder of the law firm “Cram & Cram,” which resided at 65 Wall Street.
On 12 July 1855, George applied for his passport application in which he was described as 5’8” tall, with grey eyes, a straight nose, medium mouth, small chin, square face, high forehead, brown hair, and a fair complexion. This application implies that he travelled abroad between July 12, 1855 and June 25, 1860.
In 1860, George was living with his elderly parents and working as a lawyer in New York, according to census data.3 In 1861, he married his wife, Francis. Their time together for the next few years was to be short; overpowered by the outbreak of the Civil War.
On May 14, 1861, George secured a commission as a captain in the newly authorized 3rd U.S. Cavalry, where he was assigned command of Company I. He immediately set up his recruiting office in Rochester, New York, and between July 24th and September 29th, he recruited 79 men for his regiment (57 men for his own company, 17 men for Company G, one man for Company K, one man for the regiment’s Field &Staff, and three recruits who deserted).
In order to simplify the tracking of the large number of volunteer units being formed during the war, Congress had enacted, on 3 August 1861, that all mounted regiments should henceforth be known as cavalry. Army General Order No. 55, dated August 10, 1861, prescribed that the 3rd U.S. Cavalry would now be enumerated the 6th U.S. Cavalry.
On October 4, 1861, Captain Cram joined the regiment at Bladensburg, Maryland. Here, the regiment received its horses, and its first lessons in the saddle. On October 12th, the regiment broke camp at Bladensburg and marched to its new camp, East of Capitol. Here, the regiment would endure an intensive training regime, mounted and unmounted, and the company commanders would have the occasion to sharpen their men. Unfortunately, Captain Cram would not seize this opportunity. On November 27th, he took leave, and in February, he was absent, sick in Washington, D.C.
On March 10, 1862, the regiment broke camp and embarked with Major General McClellan on the famous Peninsula Campaign of 1862, where Captain Cram would serve in every engagement of the campaign. On May 30, 1862, during an action on the Pamunkey River, Major Williams mentioned in his report:
“At 12 o’clock on the night of the 28th Lieutenant Kerin left the camp with about 20 men, and successfully fired and destroyed the county bridge about 200 yards above the railroad crossing. He was assisted in both operations by Lieutenant Coats, and both deserve the highest praise for the effectual manner in which they discharged their duty. Another bridge was also burned by Captain Cram. This was a bridge which Rush’s Lancers had fired on the 27th, but owing to the suddenness of their having withdrawn from the front were unable to entirely complete the destruction.”
The regiment then marched into the brutal Maryland Campaign, remembered most famously for the battle of Antietam. Upon the closing of the campaign, Brigadier General Pleasonton, in making his report of the operations resulting in driving Lee’s army back into Virginia, said:
“The services of this division (cavalry) from the 4th of September up to the 19th were of the most constant and arduous character. For fifteen successive days we were in contact with the enemy, and each day conflicts of some kind were maintained, in which we gradually but steadily advanced. The officers and men have exerted themselves to insure the success of every expedition and these efforts have been fortunate. The officers entitled to mention for gallant services are….Captains W.P. Sanders commanding, and Capts. George C. Cram and Henry B. Hays, and Lieut. Albert Coats, adjutant.”
On October 31, 1862, Captain Cram was assigned to duty at Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the regimental command had changed hands many times due to most of the senior officers receiving higher commands within the volunteer forces. After returning to his company and settling into winter camp, Captain Cram assumed command of the regiment on December 13, 1862, now the senior regimental officer.
Captain Cram appears to have been despised by the men in his regiment. One private wrote:
“He was a curious, capricious man, seeming to almost delight when the men most feared him. A perfect sign of terror held sway over the guards. The new regimental commander would come down to the guardhouse at all hours of these winter nights, sometimes wearing his sidearms and at other times without them, and then, in violation of all regulations, the guard and prisoners were obliged to turn out and fall into line – the latter in their bare feet and drawers – that he might be saluted according to rank. A little hatred towards him was developed throughout the entire regiment. Whenever a soldier had occasion to speak of him, his name was invariably coupled with uncomplimentary phrases. The universal desire was often thus briefly expressed, except for the religious:
Thus religious wore off the round edge of a curse:
While the young men from the country, who still retained a wholesome fear of profanity, contended themselves with:
“Gol darn Cram!”
All sorts of violent deaths and untimely ends were pictured as in store for the unfortunate Cram. Few of the men seemed to believe that he ever allowed himself to become sober while in command of the regiment that winter.”
However much he may have been disliked by his men, Cram was diligent in attempting to see to the welfare of the men and their mounts. During the early part of January, the following letters were sent by Captain Cram, at a time when the strength of the cavalry should have been husbanded with great care for the coming spring campaign:
“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
January 16th, 1863.
SIR: – I have the honor to report for the information of Brigade Headquarters, that the three squadrons of my regiment now on picket duty have the strength of 505 enlisted men. The three companies now in camp awaiting will turn out to-morrow 121 enlisted men. Present, absolute available strength mounted of the six troops and the three in camp, of which my command consists, 426.
There are three troops on detached service at General Sumner’s and General Pleasanton’s headquarters. Of ineffectives I shall leave in camp, mostly dismounted, 292. From the above it will be perceived that I can march with one-hundred and seventy-one men as the strength of my three disposable companies. I succeeded in getting thirty-six carbines and sabres from Pennington’s battery to-day. To-morrow I shall be obliged to send out two days’ forage and three days’ rations to my six companies on picket; this is essential to provide for their substance and forage. It requires six wagons for them to return during the day (they must be lightly loaded), which will cripple my transportation seriously, should I have to use it for general purposes to-morrow.
Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
(Signed) G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry, Commanding.
To Lieutenant MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”
“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
January 21st, 1863.
SIR: – I have the honor to request to be informed whether I am at liberty to run out forage to the six companies of my regiment, now on picket; their forage is out this morning; also whether I can start my train to depot for forage. I have a scant two days’ in camp ahead for the whole command, and forage must be sent this morning to the detail on picket.
My entire command in rationed for three days, from this morning, in their haversacks. Am I to construe the circular received this morning as a standing order to run out the necessary transportation daily, to my detail on picket, with one day’s rations, without further orders, as it is only by that, that I can keep them three days ahead?
Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry.
To Lieutenant H. MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”
“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
Camp near Falmouth, Virginia, January 29th, 1863.
SIR: – I have the honor to transmit herewith approved requisitions for six wagons and requisitions for tools rendered absolutely necessary under orders from Headquarters 2d Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division, January 28th, 1863, requiring me to employ the troops under my command to construct and keep in repair the bridges on the road between General Hooker’s headquarters and ‘Stoneman’s switch.’ I have the honor to officially state my belief that, unless I am furnished with the means called for in such requisitions, it will be impossible for me to perform the duty assigned to me under the above-noticed order, as my regimental resources are already insufficient for the purposes of foraging and rationing my command. I have also the honor to very respectfully request to be informed if it is intended to retain this regiment on the roster for picket while discharging this duty of road and bridge construction and police, and if, while assigned to such fatigue duty, it will also be required to do its usual outpost duty. The requisitions are based upon a careful survey and examination made to-day of the roads and line of country assigned me.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry, Commanding.
To Lieutenant H. MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”
In the months of winter camp in 1863, the cavalry underwent major changes. Major General Joseph Hooker took command of the army, relieving General Burnside after his failure at Fredericksburg the previous November. One of General Hooker’s changes was to organize the various cavalry regiments into a massive mounted service designated the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac. Under this new organization, the regiment remained with the rest of the regular cavalry regiments in the Reserve Brigade, now acting as an independent brigade. While the structure of this fledgling cavalry corps was beginning to take shape, Captain Cram was assigned command of the brigade on February 16, 1863. One soldier who was stationed at brigade headquarters noted in his diary:
Rainy some this morning. Cleaned up about 10 o’clock. Capt. Cram is in command of the Brigade. Handsome Brig. Genl. but he can’t command a corporal guard. (unr) that ain’t mutiny.”
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Buford, who was then the chief of cavalry, requested to command the reserve brigade under this reorganization. Thus, in March, Captain Cram was relieved of command of the Reserve Brigade, and resumed command of the 6th U.S. Cavalry.
The regiment, Captain Cram commanding, broke winter camp on April 13, 1863 and participated in the expedition known as “Stoneman’s Raid.”
On May 12,1863, while in camp at Hartwood Church, Captain Cram, accompanied by Assistant Surgeon William H. Forwood and two enlisted orderlies, rode to General Buford’s headquarters, about a mile and a half distant. Towards evening, they started back to camp, and while passing along a country road, were suddenly surrounded and compelled to surrender by about thirty of Colonel Mosby’s men, under Lieutenant Fairchild.
The guerrillas had ridden close to the camps, under cover of a dense forest, and, secreting their horses in the underbrush, had posted themselves on both sides of the road and captured several troopers passing back and forth between the camps.
Captain Cram and Assistant Surgeon Forwood were not armed, and both were entirely unsuspicious of any danger until confronted with a demand for surrender, backed up by cocked carbines. It was a daring ambush, laid in the midst of the cavalry corps, on a piece of road supposed to be covered by patrols and pickets.
The captors mounted and conducted their prisoners through the forest to a house, which appeared to be their headquarters. Here, Lieutenant Fairchild offered to release them if they would give their parole. Captain Cram and the enlisted men were released on parole, after being deprived of their horses and equipments, and started to camp.
Since medical officers on both sides had the right to be released without parole if captured, Assistant Surgeon Forwood declined to sign the parole, and insisted upon his right, as a medical officer, to be released. This was refused, and he was turned over to a guard to be taken to some interior point as a prisoner of war. The guard started after midnight, the prisoner being placed on foot between mounted detachments in front and rear. While passing through a dense growth of pines, the gallant surgeon made a dash for liberty and escaped without injury from the carbine and pistol shots that resounded through the forest.
The escaping prisoner floundered along over fallen timber and through swamps until nearly daylight, when he succeeded in reaching the main road, where Captain Cram and his party had already arrived, and at that point not far from General Buford’s headquarters. This ordeal caused Captain Cram considerable embarrassment, and though unproven, is probably why the gallant surgeon spent the rest of the month on detached duty at the Cavalry Corps’ dismount camp near Dumfries. Surgeon Forwood rejoined the regiment just prior to the battle of Brandy Station and continued to share its fortunes with the same daring spirit that dictated his dash into the dark forest amidst the flying bullets of the guerrillas.
Considerable controversy arose over this capture, and the result was a general order published by the War Department forbidding the acceptance of parole under such circumstances. The order referred to, dated 3 July 1863, contains the following language:
“It is understood that captured officers and men have been paroled and released in the field by others than commanders of opposing armies********
Any officer or soldier who gives such parole will be returned to duty without exchange, and, moreover, will be punished for disobedience of orders. It is the duty of the captor to guard his prisoners, and if, through necessity or choice, he fails to do this, it is the duty of the prisoner to return to the service of his Government.”
It appears that Captain Cram wasn’t any more beloved by the officers of his regiment than he was by the enlisted men. In a letter dated the same day of Captain Cram’s capture, Captain Brisbin wrote to his wife:
“***I am now again in command of the regiment much to the delight of all in it. The Rebels got Cram, Body and Breeches. I am only sorry that they did not kill the son-of-a-bitch, but we are all rid of him and thats all we need care for.***”
Nonetheless, Captain Brisbin’s sentiment would not hold true, for after “officially” being paroled on June 2, 1863, Captain Cram again assumed command of the regiment, if only for a short time.
On June 9th, the battle of Brandy Station took place, in which Captain Cram can easily be commended for the way he handled his regiment in battle. He received a brevet promotion to major for gallant and meritorious service his actions during the battle.
The following day, June 10th, Major Samuel H. “Old Paddy” Starr was appointed to the 6th U.S. Cavalry and would have assumed command of the regiment. However, Major Starr was immediately given command of the brigade, replacing Major Whiting, his junior, while Captain Cram remained in command of the regiment.
Major Starr was a veteran of the old army and known to be a strict disciplinarian, which he rigidly exercised towards all – officers and men. One private would remember:
“There was one feature in MAJ Starr’s administration that in a measure compensated the men for their suffering and humiliation. That was the poorly concealed terror and hate with which he was regarded by the subordinate regimental officers. CPT Cram especially seemed to be an object of Major Starr’s terrific disciplinarian efforts. Under the watchful eyes of the major, poor Captain Cram seemed to have dropped from the pinnacle of happiness to the depths of despair. In his presence, Captain Cram appeared heavily ill at ease. His trepidation was visible to everyone, and a smile was sure to pass along the line on such occasions. Whenever the cold blue eyes of his senior were turned upon him, his manifest trepidation was expressibly gratifying to those who had been subject to Captain Cram’s caprices while at the previous winter camp.”
The regiment continued the march, and on June 21, 1863 participated in the battle of Upperville. On the 23rd, while camped near Aldie, Captain Cram submitted his official report, which is very interesting and given in more detail than is usual in such cases. This is likely because of Major Starr’s vociferous displeasure of the performance of the brigade during the battle. After the brigade’s brief stay at camp near Aldie, it continued the march, chasing after General Lee’s army.
On June 29, 1863, the command reached Frederick City, Maryland, where newly appointed Brigadier General Wesley Merritt assumed command of the brigade, relieving Major Starr. Starr assumed command of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, which in turn, relieved Captain Cram of command of the regiment and returned him to his company.
The command soon reached Emmitsburg, Maryland, where it went into camp. On July 3rd, the brigade commander received information that a Confederate wagon train was very near and guarded by a weak force. Sensing it was ripe for the taking, Brigadier-General Merritt ordered the 6th U.S. Cavalry to the task.
As the regiment marched into Fairfield, Pennsylvania, Major Starr ordered Captain Cram, commanding the 1st Squadron, to take his men and follow the course of an unfinished railroad that lay at the foot of the mountains on the western side of the valley. Captain Cram set off on his reconnoiter, while the rest of the regiment continued towards Cashtown. The battle which ensued, known as the battle of Fairfield, saw the regiment utterly routed by the Confederate force guarding the wagon train, which turned out to be an entire Confederate brigade, under the command of General William “Grumble” Jones. Captain Cram, hearing the firing from the engagement, quickly rushed his 1st Squadron toward the scene. His squadron charged the enemy, but his horse was shot out from underneath him, and he was captured. The remaining few men of the regiment retreated back towards Cashtown.
That afternoon, Captain Cram, along with the other prisoners, set off on the long march south towards the Confederate prisons at Richmond. After a long and rainy march, the prisoners camped some distance away from the battlefield. Now prisoners, and after a long, rainy, cold, hungry, and weary march, these Federal men were not only defeated on the battlefield, but also in spirit. One private noted:
“Grim jokes about ”cordwood brigades,” “Company Q,” and “put a nosebag on him” were occasionally heard, but there was no absolute disrespect shown by the men. Even Captain Cram, with all the different phases of common hate assumed toward him, escaped insult.”
The long march south resumed, and continued for the next few days. Shortly before daylight of July 7th, the men halted near a place called the Mountain House, and here remained until late in the afternoon. Here Captain Cram was once again illegally paroled. The parole was not recognized by the Federal government to be binding, as all prisoner exchanges required the delivery of prisoners to Vicksburg or City Point. He received parole, complaining of gout in his feet from the tremendous amount of marching.
This same day, Brigadier-General Neill reported that:
“***Captain [George C.] Cram, now a prisoner of war at Monterey, states that the discipline of the enemy seems to be very much relaxed. In the last two days I have taken a great many prisoners, or, rather, deserters from the rebels.***”
After this second unauthorized field parole, near Monterey, he was granted 20 days of leave starting on the 24thfor reason of being a paroled prisoner. He then extended his leave for 60 days and subsequently was put on duty as an inspector of cavalry horses at Washington, D.C. on November 6, 1863. On February 20, 1864, he again took leave. On March 10, 1864, he was assigned as a mustering and disbursing officer at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In September, he transferred to his home ground of New York City, still working as a mustering and disbursing officer. In November, he was listed as “sick in New York City,” and on November 16th he was ordered to join his regiment, yet managed to avoid rejoining throughout the remainder of the war. Perhaps the reason for his numerous leaves was that his wife was pregnant, and in 1865, she bore a son, which they named Jacob Cram, probably after George’s father.
At this point, it should be noted that Captain Cram was the only one of the original company commanders in the regiment that had not received some sort of higher command, whether in the regular army or more commonly the volunteer service. However, this was finally about to change, for while in New York, and perhaps the reason for his avoidance to join his regular regiment, he secured an appointment as Colonel of the 22nd New York Cavalry. Unfortunately for Cram, this appointment was rescinded upon the return of the original commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Horatio B. Reed.
Having failed to secure his volunteer command, he must have been compelled to rejoin his regiment, reporting sometime in May of 1865. Yet again, he took leave and was absent on June 16, 1865. In July, he was again reported present for duty, and was assigned special duty as the acting provost marshal at Frederick, Maryland. Yet again, he took leave on August 21, 1865, but was back on duty near Frederick, Maryland by September.
The regiment received hundreds of recruits during the summer, and now at full strength, was ordered to duty in Texas. The regiment broke camp at Frederick, Maryland on October 15, 1865 and proceeded by rail to Battery Barracks, New York, where it embarked , October 19th, on the steamship “Herman Livingston” for New Orleans. The steamer sailed the next morning, and when off the coast of Hatteras, during the 23rd and 24th, encountered a violent storm. One of the sad incidents of this trying voyage was the loss of horses, thrown overboard to lighten the ship. The ship weathered the severe gale which sent many vessels to the bottom, and reached Key West on the night of the 27th, and New Orleans on November 2nd.
The regiment remained in camp near New Orleans until the 10th, when it sailed on the steamer “Clinton” for Galveston, arriving there on November 12th. Austin, Texas, was reached on the 29th, and Camp Sanders was established half a mile west of town. During this month, Captain Cram was listed as present, but sick. By December, he was assigned on detached service as provost marshal at Major-General Custer’s Headquarters in Austin, Texas. On January 24, 1866, he was assigned as the acting inspector general at the same headquarters, until February 1st, when he rejoined his regiment. On March 16th, he was put on special duty attending the general court marshal of a soldier, per Special Order No. 65, and was relieved of that duty on April 22, 1866, yet reported sick. On May 3, 1866, Captain Cram reported to duty, and with his company was on detached service at Jacksboro, Texas.
During early 1867, he went on a scouting expedition after Indians. It is not known what happened on that expedition, but on April 5, 1867, he was listed as joined from that expedition and “in arrest,” since that date. On April 28th, he and his company transferred from Jacksboro to Fort Belknap, where he remained in arrest until June at that post. In June, the returns list him as “from present in arrest to absent in arrest since June 20, 1867, attending his trial before General Court Marshal at Austin, Texas.” Meanwhile, his company was transferred to Camp Wilson. On October 24, 1867 he reported from “absent in arrest to present in arrest” at Camp Wilson “by permission to delay joining his company until the decision of his trial is made known per instructions from the 5th Military District, dated 11 October 1867.”
In a baffling turn, Captain Cram was promoted to Major the next day, October 12, 1867, and assigned to the 4th U.S. Cavalry, and was ordered to report to his new regiment on November 19, 1867. In December, he was en route to Fort Clark, Texas to assume command of that post. He did not stay in command long at Fort Clark, for on January 20, 1868, Major Cram transferred and assumed command of Fort Verde and the regiment. In March, he led his regiment on a movement to transfer to Fort Concho, Texas, and assumed command of that post April 3, 1868.
For the next few months, Major Cram commanded the regiment and post to which he was assigned, until August 18, 1868, when he relinquished command and reported for detached service as a member of a military commission per Special Order No. 3, Headquarters, 5th Military District, dated August 12, 1868. He left the regiment on the 20th for this duty, and by October 2nd, his duty was complete, as he went on leave and travelled to his home in New York City. His leave there was extended for three months per Special Order No. 250, dated October 19, 1868.
On January 9, 1868, Major Cram was recommended for promotion to a lieutenant-colonelcy by Brigadier-General George Stoneman, now a Colonel in command of the 21st U.S. Infantry. Stoneman wrote the following recommendation on behalf of Major Cram:
January 9th, 1868
Hon. Secretary of War,
I have never troubled the War department with many recommendations for promotion or preferment, and when I have done so it has ever been done with a knowledge of the person, his claims, and his merits, and because I really thought he was justly entitled to what was asked for him.
The case I now beg the privilege of bringing to the attention of the Department, and through it to the President, is that of one of the most gallant and deserving Officers in the Army — Major G.C. Cram, 4th U.S. Cavalry, and what is asked for him by myself and through me by his friends who have written me on the subject, is that he may be brevetted a “Lieutenant Colonel in the Army for gallant and meritorious conduct at the engagement of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, July 3d, 1863.”
The circumstances are as follows, His Regiment the 6th Cavalry was taken into the action by Colonel Starr, who being wounded early in the engagement, the Command of the Regiment devolved upon major Cram — who in extricating his Regiment and saving the Regimental Colors, had his Clothing and saddle perforated with bullets in many places, his horse killed under him, and himself wounded — when being afoot he was captured by the enemy — who recognizing and appreciating his gallantry, paroled him and turned him loose.
It is to be presumed that the reason why his name and claims have never been presented for consideration is that no Official report was ever made of the engagement by Colonel Starr, (for reasons unnecessary here to mention,) and I hope it is not now too late to do justice to a brave Soldier, gallant Officer, and thorough Gentleman,
I am, Sir,
Your Obedient Servant
Colonel 21st U.S. Infantry and
Brevet Major General U.S.A.”
It is obvious that Major Cram stretched the truth to favor himself for a promotion. It need only be mentioned that Private George C. Platt, of Company H, was the soldier who rescued the regimental colors from falling in the hands of the enemy, and for which action he became the regiment’s first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Even though Major Cram was commanding the 1st Squadron (which consisted of companies B and H), it proves at the very least he was trying to take credit for one of his soldier’s actions.
This concoction of Major Cram’s would ultimately backfire, for at the time, promotions required a letter of endorsement from the commander of the soldier at the time of their actions: Major Samuel H. Starr! Major Starr was currently stationed in Texas with the 6th U.S. Cavalry, and upon receiving Major Cram’s recommendation to lieutenant-colonel, wrote the following:
“Post of Mount Pleasant, Tex.
February 17th 1868
Respectfully returned to HeadQuarters of the Army. I believe General Stoneman does not claim to know anything personally about the actuion mentioned by him in the within communication as he was not serving in the Army of the Potomac at the time: the first paragraph of his letter is intended, I presume, merely to remind the Department of his habitual course, from which, in this case, for sufficient reasons, he chooses to depart. There are several erros of fact in the General’s communication which, as it is referred to me, it is my duty to correct, and I will do so in the order they appear — I was wounded some hours after the action began and after its close, while the regiment was in retreat through a narrow defile (a country road) and not “early in the engagement.” — Major Cram certainly was not during any part of the action in command of the regiment — The regiment being weak and attacked by two brigades of the enemy’s cavalry, under the rebel Generals B.H. Robertson and Jones, was much cut up, routed and disorganized, it is true, but was reformed several miles from the field of action by Lt. Louis H. Carpenter (now Captain, 10th U.S. Cavalry) and not by Maj. Cram. Capt. Carpenter is my informant in this. — Major Cram had nothing to do with “extricating the regiment.” — I never heard that Major Cram saved the standard, I think this is a mistake — I did not know that he was wounded in that action, or that his saddle or clothing was spoiled — major Cram with his squadron was detached by me on the morning of the 3rd July, the day of the action, before the enemy was discovered, to look after his (the enemy’s) foragers reported by the people to be robbing barns in the neighborhood of Fairfield; and he did not rejoin the regiment, at least not till after the action was over and the regiment was in full retreat; he took no part in the action up to that time; he was however captured. I have heard, and paroled because he was unable to walk from gout in his feet. He did not, I believe, serve again in the field during the war on account of some complications about his exchange.
The remark of General Stoneman in the last paragraph, written in parentheses, to wit “for reasons unnecessary here to mention,” requires notice: The reason no official report was made of the action by me was that in the retreat I lost my right arm near the shoulder while marching through the defile above mentioned — myself the last man in the column. I add the last clause because it seems to me the remark quoted is calculated to injure me, it is at least liable to misconstruction.
Maj. 6th Cav. Bvt Col USA”
The remarks from Army’s commanding general were characteristically brief:
“Gen. Stoneman’s recommendation is not approved.
March 7, ‘68”
Needless to say, Major Cram never received the promotion, and perhaps from this denial he chose to resign. His resignation was accepted per Special Order No. 23, Headquarters, Army, Adjutant-General’s Office, Washington, D.C., January 28, 1869, to take effect January 26, 1869.
While on leave in New York City, and after resigning, George C. Cram most likely entered schooling at Stamford, Connecticut. However, within the same year of his resignation, and on August 22, 1869, George Cram died. It is unknown what he died from, but still more puzzling is who wrote the following obituary, posted in the New York Times, 26 August 1869:
“The death is announced of Major George Clarence Cram, at Stamford, Conn., on Sunday last, the 22nd inst. Major Cram was a son of the late Jacob Cram, and brother of Henry A. Cram, Esq., and of Mrs. James Watson Webb. He entered the army in 1861, his first commission as Captain of the Sixth Regular Cavalry having been dated May 14, of that year. In this regiment he served throughout the war. In the latter part of 1862, Captain Cram found himself in command of his regiment, being the senior officer on duty with it, and early in 1863 the regular cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was organized into a brigade, the command of which was retained by him, although his rank was not increased. In both these positions he won the praise of his superiors, and the cordial likings of his inferiors in rank by his soldierly qualities and courteous, gentlemanly bearing. While commanding the brigade he kept open the communications of General STONEMAN’S expeditionary force with the main army, on which service he taught the guerillas a much needed lesson. June 9, 1863, he was brevetted Major, and was afterward on duty here as Provost Marshal, and was also sent on a tour of inspection through the North. October 12, 1867, he was commissioned Major of the Fourth Cavalry, and resigned on the 26th of January, 1869. He was in his fortieth year, and much beloved and respected by the many who knew him. His death will be sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends, and by none more sincerely than by his old comrades of the Army of the Potomac.”
The Cram Sourcebook, Vol. II, Michael A. Cram.
Passport application of George Clarence Cram, filed 12 July 1855, New York City.
1860 Federal Census, District No. 2, 18th Ward, New York, New York, Page No. 81, Family entry 353.
General Order No. 33, Adjutant-General’s Office, 18 June 1861.
6th U.S. Cavalry database, compiled by Jim Jones.
Official Records to the War of the Rebellion.
Special Order No. 158. Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry.
Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry, October through December 1862.
Common Soldier, Uncommon War: Life as a Cavalryman in the Civil War, Sidney M. Davis.
From Yorktown to Santiago with the Sixth U.S. Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel William H. Carter.
The Union Cavalry Comes of Age, Eric J. Wittenberg.
The diary of Randolph R. Knapp, housed at the Gettysburg Library.
Letter to Jane, his wife, by James S. Brisbin, housed at the Iowa Historical Society.
List of Officers of the Army of the United States from 1779 to 1900, William Henry Powell.
Special Order No. 348, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C.
Special Order No. 358 and Special Order No. 494, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., respectively.
Special Order No. 84, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., dated 20 February 1864.
Special Order No. 114, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., dated 10 March 1864.
Special Order No. 398, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C.
From Rochester to Winchester: The Regimental History of the 22nd New York Cavalry, Michael G. Burns.
Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry.
Special Order No. 8, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D.C.
Special Order No. 190, Headquarters, 5th Military District, dated 19 November 1867.
Order No. 228, Headquarters, Department of Texas, dated 28 December 1867.
Special Order No. 7, dated 10 January 1868.
Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 4th U.S. Cavalry.