06 June 2007 by Published in: Union Cavalry 11 comments

As promised, here is a brief sketch of Bvt. Brig. Gen. Pennock Huey. It is based in part on the information provided by his descendant, Pete Huey. Thanks to Pete for passing this information along. I did the rest. :-)

Pennock Huey was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1828. He was the son of Jacob Huey and Sarah (Davis) Huey of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Jacob was a Quaker farmer, known as “The Squire of Kennett Square” by virtue of his ownership of quite a bit of land in the area. The Hueys were affluent, and Pennock worked as a commission merchant.

Huey was appointed captain of Company D of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry when the regiment mustered in in September 1861. He was excommunicated from the Kennett Square Meeting when he went off to war. After learning his trade with the rest of the regiment, Huey went off to war. Fortunately, the regiment’s first colonel was David M. Gregg, a member of the West Point class of 1856, who was a career cavalry officer. Gregg taught the men well, and the 8th Pennsylvania soon became known as a well-drilled and well-disciplined regiment.

Huey received a promotion major on January 1, 1862. When Gregg received a promotion to brigadier general of volunteers during the fall of 1862 and assumed command of a brigade, Huey, although still a major, ended up in command of the regiment, as there was no lieutenant colonel. In the spring of 1863, the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps was formed, consisting of three divisions. The 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry was assigned to a brigade in the Third Cavalry Division, commanded by David M. Gregg. Col. Judson Kilpatrick of the 2nd New York Cavalry commanded the brigade.

Although still a major, Huey led the ill-fated charge of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. On June 25, 1863, with a major battle looming, Huey was promoted to colonel and ended up commanding the brigade when Kilpatrick was promoted to division command. Huey led the brigade for the entire Gettysburg Campaign. Huey’s brigade spent the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg in Manchester, Maryland, guarding lines of supply and communication. It was called to join the rest of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry on July 4, and participated in the fighting at Monterey Pass during the night of July 4-5.

That fall, when the Second Division was reorganized, Huey returned to regimental command, a position he held for the balance of the war. On June 24, 1864, at the Battle of Samaria (St. Mary’s) Church, at the end of the Trevilian Raid, Huey and a number of his men were surrounded and captured. After a difficult march south, he was held prisoner at Roper Hospital, during the war a military prison, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Huey was eventually exchanged and returned to the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He received a brevet to brigadier general of volunteers for gallant and meritorious services during the war on March 13, 1865, and mustered out with his regiment. After the war he married for the second time (his first wife having died). His wife was Elizabeth Waln Wistar, the daughter of Joseph Wistar and Sarah Comfort of Philadelphia. “Bustleton” was the name of their place near Kennett Square.The Wistars were an extremely prominent and wealthy Philadelphia family; a cousin, Isaac Wistar, was a Union brigadier general of volunteers.

General Huey spent his post-war years as a merchant and an agent for the Pennsylvania Canal Company. Angered that he did not receive the credit for his efforts in leading the charge at Chancellorsville and that Alfred Pleasonton attacked him for allegedly not being present during the charge, Huey spent years accumulating evidence to support his contentions, and then published a small book titled A True History of the Charge of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville in 1885 that strongly defended himself and laid claim to credit for leading the ill-fated charge, and not his subordinate, Maj. Peter Keenan, who was killed.

Huey died at the age of 75 on September 28, 1903 on the family farm, Bustleton. He was buried in the St. Luke’s Episcopal Churchyard in Philadelphia.

Huey was a competent regimental commander, and also did a competent job leading a brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign. He was not particularly popular with his peers; one described him as “an overpowering damned fool.” However, he served his country well and had the respect of his men.

Here’s to Bvt. Brig. Gen. Pennock Huey, forgotten Union cavalryman.

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Comments

  1. Wed 06th Jun 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Fantastic bio from Pete – and the most on Huey’s life ever put together thus far for sure. I learned quite a bit from that.

    Have you seen his gravesite in Philly?

    J.D.

  2. Wed 06th Jun 2007 at 10:42 pm

    J. D.,

    Actually, there are only about six sentences in there that came from Pete. The rest was all me. :-)

    Nevertheless, it was Pete’s material that put the meat on the bones, and for that, I am grateful.

    No, I haven’t seen his grave. On one of my trips home, I will have to go find it.

    Eric

  3. Thu 07th Jun 2007 at 2:09 am

    Well, Pete’s sentences were the most important ;)

    Now you have something else to search out! And don’t forget to get a picture…

    J.D.

  4. Thu 07th Jun 2007 at 8:04 am

    This is off the subject, but there was a recent CW Cavalry story in the Wash Times, here: http://washingtontimes.com/culture/20070604-113528-7932r.htm

    Thought you’d be interested in it…..JM

  5. Thu 07th Jun 2007 at 9:08 am

    Thanks, John. I saw that article. It sounds like a fun project.

    Eric

  6. Brooks Simpson
    Thu 07th Jun 2007 at 4:23 pm

    How appropriate to write on Huey (whom I remember best as a counter in a CW boardgame) on the day the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. :)

    Personal note: I got to spend some quality time with the Cup in 1994, just before the Rangers soiled it. And I mean quality time. The NHL came to Phoenix in a exhibition series of neutral site games over a few years to test the appetite for the NHL out here. You can guess who went, and went, and went. Well, in January 1994 Montreal and Quebec came here to play, and the NHL took the Cup here, too (Montreal was the defending champion). They brought it to a department store one night, and I waited in line to pass by it. The next morning, the Cup visited a local sporting goods store, along with its escort, Guy Lafleur. Only a few people showed up, and before long many of them left, but I stayed, talked with Guy, and there are a good number of pictures of my daughter and I looking at the Cup, standing besides the Cup, standing with Guy besides the Cup, and so on. I just couldn’t get over it. I had a really nice time talking with the Cup’s caretaker, too.

    Late that afternoon, they opened up America West Arena (as it was then known) for a public skate prior to the game. Some of you know that I played hockey fairly seriously for some time, so I took my skates and went down to the arena several hours before game time. And guess what was at center ice? The caretaker recognized me, and it was interesting to be on ice with the Stanley Cup, to say the least.

    Every year at this time, when I see the Cup being brought out for the presentation ceremony, well, it’s a moment for me, let’s put it that way. Especially when two playoff traditions — the beards and the handing of the Cup from player to player — originated, it seems, with my Islanders. And so the tradition continued last night.

    I know of one blogkeeper and at least two people whom I’ve met in person who will appreciate the story, and my telling it is all due to Pennock Huey and the Anaheim Ducks. :)

    Others can see it as a prelude to a post remembering Brandy Station. :)

  7. Thu 07th Jun 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Brooks,

    Congratulations on tying a long-deceased cavalryman with the Stanley Cup. I’m impressed. You get high points for that one. :-)

    And, because you know I’m a hockey nut, you get special dispensation from me. :-)

    That must have been really cool spending some time with Lord Stanely’s hardware. I would love to do that just once, let alone more than once.

    Eric

  8. Thu 15th May 2008 at 9:02 pm

    And just what, pray tell, was so “ill fated” about the “Charge of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville”? Had Huey not stumbled across Jackson`s troops and ordered the charge, Jackson would probably not have been out scouting the area looking for Union cavalry that same evening. He was, of course, shot by Confederate troops who had mistaken his party for Union cavalry.
    Had Jackson not been lost to the Confederacy, it`s a fair bet Pickett would never have been allowed to make his (genuinely ill fated….) charge and perhaps the “high water mark of the Confederacy” would not have occurred. A case could even be made that the Battle of Gettysburg might never have taken place.
    My grandfather, Pennock`s son, used to tell me, tongue in cheek, that his father, by virtue of “the charge”, had “won the Civil War.” A clear stretch but “ill fated”? Only for those who didn`t survive it.

  9. Frank Mick
    Wed 07th Aug 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I want to thank you for the information concerning Pennock Huey. I accidentally came upon his grave today. I had a problem with my car and stopped at Dennis Goodyear on Welsh Road. I was told the car would be ready in a half hour so I walked across the street and went into the cemetery behind St. Luke’s Church to do some exploring. I was unaware of Pennock Huey until I read his tombstone. I went to google him and found your website.

  10. Philip Hernandez
    Fri 06th Sep 2013 at 5:08 am

    Thanks for the information! I am looking to add Huey’s brigade as optional units in the Gettysburg game “Terrible Swift Sword,” and have to come up with command ratings for Huey himself. This will help.

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