(July 30, 1838 - December 31, 1926)
Captain, 5th U.S. Artillery
Citation: By his distinquished gallantry, and voluntary exposure to the enemy's fire at a critical moment, when the Union lines had been broken, encouraged his men to stand to their guns, checked the advance of the enemy, and brought off most of his pieces.
"Henry Algernon du Pont" was born on July 30, 1838, at Eleutherian Mills, Wilmington, Delaware the son of Henry and Louisa Gerhard du Pont. He attended and graduated from West Point Academy after which he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of engineers. Later he was promoted to 1st lieutenant in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Artillery.
In the early part of the Civil War, du Pont spent his time in the defenses of Washington, D.C., and in New York Harbor.
As the fourth year of the war was waning, "General Grant's" seige of Richmond and Petersburg was beginning to take its toll on the Rebel. "General Lee" dispatched "General Early" into the Shenandoah Valley with order to harass Washington, D.C. as mush as possilbe in hopes of taking some of the pressure of the two cities. Union "General Sheridan" had settled three corps -- the VI, VIII, and XIX -- just south of Winchester, Virginia to counter the moves of "Early" on the capital.
"Early" noticed that the Union left was exposed. Captain du Pont also noted the exposed left and rode out to find the Cavalry unit that was suppose to be guarding that area without success. du Pont deployed the 1st Pennsylvania Artillery to the left in support. During the next dawn "Early" sent "General Kershaw's" Division to let loose a demoralizing attack on the Union left flank. As hard as the soldier's fought, du Pont realized that the only way to save the guns was to harness the horses up to the guns as quickly as possible and pull them off. du Pont then ordered "Gibbs battery", supporting the front of the corps to fire and help cover the movement of the 1st Pennslyvania Artillery.
But it wasn't enough. The Pennslyvanians were overrun and some of the guns were captured. "Gibb's" guns were repositioned and effectively held off the Rebels until Sheridan returned and revitalized his army as they turned back the attack.
The importance of the victory at Cedar Creek was critical. It provided "President Lincoln" with a much needed victory (along with the surrender of Atlanta) prior to the Presidental elections. du Pont's actions that day helped to secure a Lincoln victory.
Henry A. du Pont died on December 31, 1926, and was interred in the du Pont family cemetery off Buck road in Greenville.
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Last update: 7/15/2007