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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
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St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 290-5807
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Battle of Gettysburg 150 years later: District’s first commander was battle hero

Published Oct. 28, 2013

In 1866 following the Civil War, Gouverneur Kimble Warren was assigned to St. Paul, Minn., as the district’s first commander. Upon arrival, he began surveying the Mississippi, Chippewa, St. Croix, and Wisconsin rivers. 

But three years prior to his district command, Warren was a hero in the Battle of Gettysburg. During this period of the Civil War, Warren was the Army of the Potomac’s chief engineer.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 – the second day of the battle – Maj. Gen. Warren came upon Little Round Top. From this point, Warren could see Confederate General John B. Hood’s division moving against the Union Army. He also saw the entire battle line to the north. Realizing Confederate artillery could attack his lines if they took a position on the hill, Warren convinced the V Corps commander to send troops to secure the hill. A brigade of rebels from Alabama was already assaulting the hill, and a defense was quickly organized by Warren. 

The Union soldiers held off the rebels for nearly two hours until Col. Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine ran out of ammunition and made a final charge down the hill. Little Round Top remained in Union hands, denying the Confederates the advantage of an elevated artillery position that could have help the South. The Union Army would ultimately win the battle.  

Warren went on to fight in several other campaigns including the Battle of Bristoe Station, the Overland Campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, the Siege of Petersburg, the Appomattox Campaign and the Battle of Five Forks.   

It was during the latter battle that Warren was relieved of command by Gen. Philip Sheridan. This dismissal was later deemed unjustified by a military court of inquiry, but the findings came too late to exonerate a living Warren. Although he spent years after the war trying to clear his good name, the results of the court were not published until after his death in 1882.   

Six years later, an 8-foot bronze likeness of Warren was placed on Little Round Top by members of the Fifth New York Volunteers, the unit he commanded.  

In the St Paul District, Warren is remembered for establishing the district and working on navigation, surveying and other regional issues.