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Thomas W. Egan led the Mozart Regiment in the American Civil War. He later became a general.

File:Thomas W Egan.jpg

Thomas W. Egan

Thomas Wilberforce Egan was born in New York City of Irish immigrant parents in 1836. Little is known about his life before the Civil War. He is believed to have married an actress and fathered a child who died young.[1]

Egan joined the 40th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, called the Mozart Regiment, at the beginning of the Civil War. (The regiment was sponsored by the Democratic Party's Mozart Hall Committee.)[2] Egan was made lieutenant colonel on June 14, 1861. LTC Egan participated in most of the major battles of the Army of the Potomac. Initially, the Mozart Regiment served in first division III Corps. Col Egan is reported to have arrested the colonel of the regiment for misconduct at the Battle of Fair Oaks in May 1862.[3] In June 1862, Egan was promoted to the rank of colonel. He led the regiment at the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Chantilly and the Battle of Chancellorsville. At Chancellorsville, Col Egan became acting commander of first brigade first division III Corps, when BG Charles K. Graham was assigned to command of the third division following the death of MG Amiel W. Whipple. At the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, Col Egan, once more leading his regiment, was wounded in action near Devil's Den, being hit in a leg; and the regiment’s monument stands near that site. [1] The Mozart Regiment lost 150 of 431 troops engaged.[4] Egan also led the Mozart Regiment in the Mine Run Campaign during the autumn of 1863.

Just before LTG Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign of 1864, III Corps was dissolved. First division became third division II Corps. Egan led his regiment in the Battle of the Wilderness.[5] He became commander of a brigade during the Battle of Spotsylvania, after BG J. H. Hobart Ward was relieved for drunkenness on the night of May 12, 1864. His command was involved in a counterattack against the Confederates during the fighting at Harris Farm.[6] Egan led the brigade at the Battle of North Anna, attacking Henagan's Redoubt.[7] He also led it at the Battle of Cold Harbor. Egan was wounded during the Second Battle of Petersburg in June 1864, suffering slight paralysis as a result.[8] Col Egan received his commission as brigadier general on September 3, 1864. (Secretary of War Edwin Stanton personally handed him his commission.)[9] At the Battle of Boydton Plank Road on October 27, he commanded the second division II Corps in place of BG John Gibbon, and he was brevetted major general for this action. Egan was seriously wounded on November 14, 1864. The wound disabled his right arm.[10] On recovering, he was given a division in the Army of the Shenandoah on the request of MG Winfield Scott Hancock.

General Egan was mustered out of the service, 15 January 1866, and subsequently lived in New York City. He served as deputy collector of customs for the port of New York. He also belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic. BG Egan died in New York City on February 24, 1887. According to the New York Times, Gen Egan was struck down by epilepsy while staying at the International Hotel in New York City. He was taken to the Chambers Street Hospital, a charity hospital, where he died.[11]


  • Adelman, Garry E., and Smith, Timothy H., Devil's Den: A History and Guide, Thomas Publications, 1997, ISBN 1-57747-017-6
  • Matter, William D., If It Takes All Summer: the Battle of Spotsylvania, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8078-1781-3
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0882-7
  • Rhea, Gordon C., To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee May13–25, 1864. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8071-2535-0
  1. Warner, p. 139.
  2. Adelman, p. 13.
  3. New York Times, Feb. 25, 1887.
  4. Adelman, p. 134.
  5. Steere, p. 277.
  6. Rhea, p. 183.
  7. Rhea, pp. 297 [map], 300-302.
  8. Warner, p. 140.
  9. New York Times, Feb. 25, 1887.
  10. Warner, p. 140.
  11. New York Times, Feb. 25, 1887.