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Civil War in Delaware: Part 4


General A. T. A. Torbert: Wikipedia: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection.

Alfred T. A. Torbert was the most significant Civil War hero from Delaware said Dr. Gary Wray, Professor of History at Wilmington College. Born in Georgetown in 1833, Torbert served with and was on a first name basis with legendary Civil War figures such as William Tecumseh Sherman and George Armstrong Custer.

Torbert’s father was a farmer, bank teller and part- time minister in Delaware, which meant that he was a man with both political and financial connections. As such, he had ambitions for his son and used his connections to get him into West Point, where Torbert was “noted for his horsemanship, and not so much for good grades,” said Wray.

In the Nineteenth century, classes at West Point were small, continued Wray. Everyone knew everyone else. When war clouds loomed in 1860-1861, each former student had to take sides. While the Civil War has been described as a confrontation pitting brother against brother, said Wray, military commanders regularly faced former classmates across the battlefields. They knew each others strengths and weaknesses, having studied together at West Point.

This story was first published in the News Journal under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All rights reserved.