05 February 2009 by Published in: Union Cavalry 17 comments

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a sketch of a forgotten cavalryman, so I’ve decided to pay tribute to one today.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Baldwin Marks YoungSamuel Baldwin Marks Young was born on January 9, 1840 at Forest Grove, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. His father, John Young, was of English descent as was his mother, Hannah (Scott) Young. His spent his early years upon the farm and at Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson) in Washington, PA, where he studied civil engineering. He married Margaret McFadden in 1861.

With the coming of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 12th United States Infantry as a private in April, 1861, and was made Corporal in the following June. On September 6, 1861, he was commissioned a captain in the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

He participated in heavy fighting during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, demonstrating great bravery and good leadership skills. He led the famous charge of one squadron of his regiment, and one section of Tidball’s horse artillery under Lieutenant Dennison, across the Stone Bridge on the left center of the line, in the Battle of Antietam. The defense of those guns led to the death of his regimental commander, Col. James Childs. In the wake of the death of Childs, and Young’s valor at Antietam, he was promoted to major. In November, 1862, while leading two squadrons of the 4th Pennsylvania, he attacked the rear of J. E. B. Stuart’s column at Jeffersonville, Virginia, and dismounted two guns, destroying the carriages before the supports arrived.

In the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns, the 4th Pennsylvania served under the command of Brig. Gen. William Woods Averell, and experienced little hard fighting, although he did participate in the May 1863 Stoneman Raid. During the Gettysburg Campaign, he fought in the battles at Aldie and Upperville, where Major Young led his battalion in repeated charges with the steadiness and determination of a veteran officer. Moving on the right flank of the Army of the Potomac, the 4th Pennsylvania stretched away in its course to the Susquehanna River, arriving at Wrightsville just after the destruction of the Columbia bridge. Hastening back, the 4th Pennsylvania moved to a position on the left flank of the Army of the Potomac late in the morning of July 2, 1863. The regiment did not participate in the fighting on East Cavalry Field, and played a limited role in the pursuit of Lee’s army after Gettysburg.

On October 12, when Lee attempted his flank movement during the Bristoe Campaign, the 4th was sent to the relief of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which, while on picket duty near Jeffersonville, on the right bank of the Rappahannock and opposite White Sulphur Springs, was attacked and hard pressed by the advancing enemy. The two regiments made a stand and fought bravely in a hopeless situation. The Confederate infantry flanked the horse soldiers from their position, capturing many and inflicting a large number of casualties upon both regiments. Major Young was conspicuous for his valor, and in the heat of the engagement was struck in the right elbow by a Minie ball, inflicting a painful and serious wound. After six months of intense suffering, the arm was saved, but the joint was left permanently stiff.

In an action on July 20, 1864, this arm was again hit, breaking both bones of the forearm. He recovered and soon re-joined his regiment in the field. In the spring of 1865, the same arm was struck a third time, but Young recovered and did not lose the arm.

In October 1864, Major Young was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and in December, to Colonel, and he assumed command of a brigade of cavalry. At the battle of Hatcher’s Run in February 1865, Colonel Young was ordered to charge with his brigade after an unsuccessful attack by an infantry brigade. He carried out his orders and carried an entrenched line with his charge. Gen. David M. Gregg complimented Colonel Young for his heroic action in front of the entire 2nd Cavalry Division. Confederate General John Pegram was killed in this encounter.

Colonel Young was active throughout the retreat and pursuit of Lee’s army from Five Forks to the surrender to the surrender at Apommattox, in which the movements were remarkable for rapidity and skill. He led a charge of his brigade even after the surrender had been consummated, though not known upon the front, routing a rebel brigade and capturing its colors. He was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers for this action.

At the conclusion of the war, he was appointed to a lucrative position in the Revenue Department of the U. S. government, but refusing to sacrifice his principles to party purposes, he was removed by President Johnson.

He was soon after appointed second lieutenant in his old regiment, the 12th U. S. Infantry. When the army was reorganized in July 1866, he was commissioned a Captain in the 8th U. S. Cavalry, and enjoyed remarkable success in the various campaigns against hostile Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. He was promoted to major of the 3rd U. S. Cavalry on April 2, 1883 and to lieutenant colonel of the 3rd U. S. Cavalry on August 16, 1892. After a brief stint as acting superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, he was promoted to colonel of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry on June 19, 1897.

With the commencement of the war with Spain in 1898, he was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers, and was then promoted to major general of volunteers in July 1898, commanding a division in Cuba during the Santiago Campaign.

During the Philippine Insurrection, he returned to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers and commanded brigades in the Northern Luzon District, including serving as military governor of the District. He was commissioned brigadier general in the Regular Army on January 2, 1900, and major general on February 2, 1901.

From February 1901 to March 1902, Young commanded the Military District of California from the Presidio in San Francisco. In 1901, his daughter Marjorie married an army surgeon was a nephew of Young’s old comrade in arms, General John Gibbon. He then served as the first president of the Army War College between 1902 and 1903. Then, under the newly-implemented General Staff System, he was promoted to lieutenant general and was appointed to serve as the U. S. Army’s first Chief of Staff in August 1903. He held this position until he retired as a result of age in January 1904.

He served as Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park 1907-1908. In 1909-1910, he served as president of a Board of Inquiry that investigated the riot of black soldiers of the 25th U. S. Infantry at Brownsville, TX on August 13, 1906, and affirmed the subsequent dishonorable discharge of 159 soldiers by order of President Theodore Roosevelt. He then served as governor of the Soldier’s Home in Washington from 1910 to 1920. He then enjoyed a quiet retirement after more than 60 years of public service.

His wife Margaret died in 1892, and he married Mrs. Annie Dean Huntley of Chicago in 1908. Samuel and Margaret Young had six children. His son, Ranald MacKenzie Young, died at the age of two. His daughters all survived him. Two of his daughters married cavalry officers who attained flag rank.

General Young died at his house in Helena, MT on September 1, 1924, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after a state funeral. Thus ended the life of a remarkable soldier who rose from private to chief of staff of the United States Army. Here’s to Samuel B. M. Young, forgotten cavalryman.

Scridb filter


  1. Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 10:21 am


    Forset Grove is today Robinson Township, which is aver here by me near the Pittsburgh Int’sl Airport, west of the city.

    Jefferson College was located in Canonsburg in Washington County, not Washington. Today’s Washington & Jefferson College was formed in the 1860s by the merger of Jefferson and Washington College in Washington, a bit down the road form Canonsburg. These two colleges produced a good number of CW general officers – about 24 by my count – including Henry Bingham, David H. Strother, John Geary, Absalom Baird, Jacob Sweitzer, Joshua Owen, Richard Drum, James Beaver – the list goes on. While these were all Union officers, the schools also produced two notable Confederate generals, Albert Jenkins and former Va. Governor and General Henry Wise.

    These two colleges were where rich frontiersmen sent their kids in the late 18th & early-mid 19th centuries. W&J is a pretty good school today as well. Also, Canonsburg has a great historical society, the Jefferson College Historical Society.

    I gotta get around to writing a W&J post some day.

  2. Chris
    Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 11:30 am

    I remember Young’s name being mentioned a few times in the movie ‘Rough Riders’ with Tom Berenger as Teddy Roosevelt. It goes without saying that the leadership of the Spanish American war was heavily dominated with Civil War veterans. I had not known until a few years ago that the commanding officer of the expediton ,Shafter, had won the Medal of Honor for bravery at the Battle of Fair Oaks. I guess my favorite of all the Civil War generals to Spanish American war is still Fightin’ Joe Wheeler.
    Thanks for another fascinating and excellent post,

  3. Stan O'Donnell
    Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 9:25 pm

    So was it Young/Doster that covered for Buford after Buford split GB? Or do I have this semi ass-backwards?

    Interesting, the Jellystone connection, years apart. Makes me wonder what the attachment was?

    Thanks for posting this obscure bio Eric. Yet another gallant officer that I wasn’t aware of!

  4. Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks, Harry. You’re right–you really should do a post on the colleges. That would be a very good one.


  5. Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 10:05 pm


    I’m glad you liked it and found something useful in it. I enjoy doing these profiles.


  6. Thu 05th Feb 2009 at 10:06 pm


    No, you’ve got it right.

    The attachment? TR. Young and TR knew each other from Cuba.

    I have one more officer of the 4th PA Cavalry left to profile. He will be next.


  7. Don
    Fri 06th Feb 2009 at 12:09 am

    Nice one, Eric. It’s interesting how the cavalry pretty much owned responsibility for Yellowstone for decades after its creation, not something you normally hear about on a park visit.

  8. Fred Ray
    Sat 07th Feb 2009 at 6:46 pm


    Thanks for the reference. He was up against Maj. Eugene Blackford and his sharpshooters, backed by O’Neal’s Alabamians. Blackford left a vivid account of the action, which I quoted at some length in my book. Nice to know who was on the other side.

  9. Richard Knight
    Sun 15th Mar 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I appreciate this biographical sketch of Lt. Gen. Young, my great-great grandfather, very much. Today, he is all but forgotten. When I was a boy, in the early 50’s, he could still be found in one or two encylopedias, but that was then. Today, he isn’t even mentioned in the American Biography of American History. Why? He was the last commanding general of the army (for one week, succeeding Miles) and the first chief of staff. He co-founded the war college. His eldest child, Edith, married my great-grandfather, Brigadier Gen. John T. Knight, USMA Class of 1884. They met when Knight was posted to the 3rd Cav in 1884. I have a large, classical oil painting of the general, painted in 1909 from life, in my living room. The War College made inquiry, but we declined to part with it. It is a magnificent likeness. We did donate hundreds of letters to the War College, including quite a few between Young and TR. The family is thinking of hiring a professionial historian to write the definitive bio. BTW, there is no regimental history of the 4th Pa Cav. That is hard to understand. I am over 60 and am working this summer in Yellowstone. It is in the DNA. The Army controlled the national parks until 1916, and that is one reason why Young was in YNP two different times. He was a civilian the second time, but wore his uniform. I imagine he lobbied for the job because he and his second wife, Annie Dean, were living in Helena, Montana, at the time. Thank you!!!

  10. Elizabeth Knight
    Mon 16th Mar 2009 at 1:26 am

    Thank you for this post. I’m also mystified as to why my great-great-great grandfather isn’t more well-known. I’ve got an original photographic portrait of him, his wife, and two of his daughters (one of whom is my g-g-grandmother as a small child) in an original wooden frame hanging in my home in Dallas. I’ve also been to the palatial home in Montana where he died. He has certainly not been forgotten in this family!

  11. Christopher J. Small
    Fri 29th May 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Concerning the post of Richard Knight above and a history of the 4th PA Cav, a gentleman named Dr. R Sauers7696 So. County Rd, S. Lake Nebagomon, WI 54849, was seeking information for a history of the 4th. He posted his SIO in Blue and Gray in 2001. I sent him information on my ancestor, 1st Lt Henry King RQM, 4th Pa Cav and told him i would buy the book when published. Never heard anything back.

  12. Russell K. Brown
    Fri 17th Jul 2009 at 10:56 am

    Your nice biography of Young omits his brief sojourn in Augusta, Georgia (Nov. 1898-March 1899) when he commanded Second Corps and Camp Mackenzie. Young had his HQ in the Bon Air resort hotel (that still exists as an apartment house). The Bon Air had a 9-hole golf course. I have an 1898 photo of him in uniform, downloaded from USAMHI, with his sword on his left hip and a golf club in his right hand. I am sure it was taken at the Bon Air.

    A god brief writeup of Young’s military career with excellent color reproduction of his portrait appears in William Gardner Bell, Commanding Generals and Chiefs of Staff, 1775-1983: Portraits and Biographical Sketches of the U.S.Army’s Senior Officer (Washington: Center of Military History, 1983).

  13. Wayne Johnson
    Wed 09th Jan 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Enjoyed the bio. I wrote a book about the creation of Grand Teton National Park, for which I am currently accepting rejections, and give Col. Young credit for the first legislative effort to protect the Jackson Hole area. He recommended in his annual report for 1897 that the valley south of Yellowstone be annexed into the park so that the Army could protect migrating elk in their winter range as well as their summer range from poacher. Sec. of Interior C.N. Bliss asked Young to submit a draft bill to accomplish the Yellowstone extension. The bill was submitted to Congress in 1898 and again in 1902 but congress failed to act. I’m glad my great grandfather (35th Mississippi Infantry, Company B) did not have to face Young.

  14. Christopher Watkins
    Tue 02nd Jul 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Daily I pass by LTG Young’s portrait in the Pentagon. What has interested me is the red clover award he wears on the collar of his uniform. I looked it up once (can’t find it now) and read that there were no records of it, meaning no one knew what the award meant, why he received it, etc. Does anyone have any information about that award?

  15. Richard Knight
    Sun 28th Jul 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I appreciate all the good information that has been posted here. I had to laugh at Mr. Johnson’s comment the good fortune that his great-grandfather did not have to face young. My great-grandfather, John Hughes Knight, Jr., Capt., 3rd Va Cav, did have the “pleasure” (at Antietam), and it’s a wonder that I and my daughter, Elizabeth (above) are here to tell the story! The truth is that Young was a fighter, cut from the Ranald Mackenzie mold, an officer he admired very much (his only son, was named Ranald Mackenzie Young, and my great-grandfather kept the tradition going, naming one of his sons Ranald Mackenzie Knight; both boys died in their infancy). I don’t know what that device is that Young is wearing on his collar. The portrait I have of Young was painted from life in 1909, and it isn’t present. I can only surmise that it is a reference to his 90-day regiment, the 12th Penna, and its corps, but that is just a guess. My thanks for the info involving Young’s superintendency of Yellowstone, where today he is remembered as an early environmentalist. He knew that driving the wolves (and other predators) into extinction would exponentially increase the varmint population and the number of ungulates, who would strip the bark off of every aspen and overgraze. Thanks to all.

  16. Richard Knight
    Sun 28th Jul 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I apologize for the typos in the above post.

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress