In the course of researching the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry (also known as Rush’s Lancers), I found the story of Theodore J. Wint. This man fascinates me, and it’s really a shame that his story has been forgotten by history. I intend to rectify this.
Wint, who was born near Scranton, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1845, enlisted as a private in the Lancers at age sixteen in 1861. By June 1864, he wore a sergeant’s chevrons, and he was then commissioned first lieutenant on July 1, 1864. He served honorably until the expiration of his term of service on September 30, 1864, when he mustered out of the volunteer service as a nineteen-year-old lieutenant. On February 20, 1865, he enlisted as a private in the General Mounted Service of the United States Army, and served in this role until November 24, 1865, when he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the 4th U. S. Cavalry. In May 1866, he was promoted to first lieutenant, serving as regimental adjutant from August 1868 to December 31, 1871, serving under, and gaining regular praise from, Ranald S. MacKenzie, generally considered to be the most successful Indian fighter in the Army. On April 21, 1872, he was promoted to captain, and then in May, 1892, he was promoted to major and transferred to the 10th U. S. Cavalry, one of the famous “buffalo soldier” regiments consisting of African-American soldiers led by white officers.
In April 1899, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was again transferred, this time to the 6th U. S. Cavalry. He was promoted to colonel on February 2, 1891, and to brigadier general on June 9, 1902. Wint served in the frontier Indian Wars (1866 to 1888)(where he served with great distinction), in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War (1898)(where he was badly wounded in battle when a Mauser bullet broke his thighbone), China (1900-1901), the Philippine insurrection (1901-1904)(where he distinguished himself by capturing one of the leaders of the insurgency) and the Army of Cuban Pacification (1906-1907). Ironically, while operating in both Cuba and the Philippines, Wint served under the command of General Joseph Wheeler, a former Confederate cavalry officer who again donned the blue uniform of the United States Army. The U. S. Army’s Philippines fortifications were named Fort Wint in his honor. General Wint died suddenly of heart disease at the relatively young age of 62 on March 21, 1907, while still on active duty in the field. He was not scheduled to retire until 1909, when he would have been 64, and was a few months shy of receiving one final promotion, this time to major general, had he lived to finish out his career. “General Wint was a quiet man who did things,” said Secretary of War William Howard Taft upon hearing of Wint’s passing.
Although he has been almost entirely forgotten by history, General Wint was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, where one of the largest and most handsome monuments in the entire cemetery marks his grave.
Other than the six months from the end of his term of service with the Lancers and his re-enlistment in the U. S. Army, Wint spent his entire adult life as a soldier, a career that spanned 46 years. No member of the Lancers achieved higher military rank than did General Wint. Few American cavalrymen accomplished more than he did.
Here’s a tribute to a forgotten hero. Let’s hope that he’s not forgotten again.Scridb filter