November 25: John Sanford Mason (1897)

John Sanford Mason was a career officer in the United States Army who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Mason was born in Steubenville, Ohio. After attending local schools, he was admitted to West Point in 1843. From his graduation in 1847 until he retired at age 64, he pursued only a military career. He began service with garrison duty in Tampico during the Mexican War. During the next twelve years he served in forts in Rhode Island and California, before finally being stationed at Fort Vancouver, Washington at the outbreak of the civil war. In October 1861, he was appointed Colonel of the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which he led in the fall and winter campaigns of Western Virginia in the force commanded by General James Shields. He served briefly under McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign at the battle at Harrison’s Landing. He was promoted to brigadier general in November 1862 and commanded a brigade under Sedgewick’s II Corps of the Right Grand Division at Fredericksburg. In April 1863, Mason was assigned to recruiting duty, first in Ohio, and later in California and Nevada.

After the war, Mason served in a number of posts on the Western Frontier during the 1870’s and the 1880’s. Four years after the death of his first wife, Mason married Cornelia Marie Wilson at the Church of the Epiphany. When he retired in 1888, he made his home in Washington, D. C. until his death. Mason was a cousin of President James A. Garfield’s wife Lucretia and during the Garfield administration Mason served as Deputy Governor of the Soldiers Home at Washington. Following his death, his funeral was at Epiphany. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

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