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Jesse L. Reno

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Title: Jesse L. Reno  
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Subject: Burnside's North Carolina Expedition, Jesse W. Reno, IX Corps (Union Army), Franklin, Pennsylvania, Venango County, Pennsylvania
Collection: 1823 Births, 1862 Deaths, American Military Personnel from West Virginia, American Military Personnel of the Mexican–american War, Burials at Oak Hill Cemetery, Members of the Aztec Club of 1847, People from Venango County, Pennsylvania, People from Wheeling, West Virginia, People of West Virginia in the American Civil War, Union Army Generals, Union Military Personnel Killed in the American Civil War, United States Army Generals, United States Military Academy Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Jesse L. Reno

Jesse L. Reno
Jesse Lee Reno
Born (1823-04-20)April 20, 1823
Wheeling, Virginia
Died September 14, 1862(1862-09-14) (aged 39)
near Boonsboro, Maryland
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1846–1862
Rank Major General
Commands held Mount Vernon Arsenal, IX Corps

Mexican–American War
American Civil War

Jesse Lee Reno (April 20, 1823 – September 14, 1862) was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War, the Utah War, the western frontier, and as a Union General during the American Civil War. Known as a "soldier's soldier" who fought alongside his men, he was killed while commanding a corps at Fox's Gap during the Battle of South Mountain. Reno County, Kansas, El Reno, Oklahoma, Reno, Nevada, and Fort Reno in Washington, D.C. were named after him.


  • Early life 1
  • Mexican–American War 2
  • Civil War 3
  • In memoriam 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Reno was born in Wheeling, Virginia (present day West Virginia), the third-oldest of eight children of Lewis Thomas and Rebecca (Quinby) Reno. His ancestors changed the spelling of their surname "Renault" to the more Anglicized "Reno" when they arrived in America from France in 1770.[1] His family moved to the Franklin, Pennsylvania, area in 1830, and Reno spent his childhood there.

Reno was admitted to the George Stoneman.

Mexican–American War

During the [3] During the occupation of Mexico City, Reno became an original member of the Aztec Club of 1847.

After the Mexican–American War ended, Reno served in several locations, including as a mathematics instructor at West Point, as the secretary of a group assigned to "create a system of instruction for heavy artillery,[4] and at the Ordnance Board in Washington, D.C. He was promoted to first lieutenant, in 1853, and sent to conduct a road survey from the Big Sioux River to Mendota, Minnesota. When he returned to Washington, he married Mary Blanes Cross, and the couple had five children, two of whom had notable achievements of their own: Conrad Reno became an attorney and writer of note in Boston, Massachusetts, and Jesse W. Reno graduated from Lehigh University and invented the first working escalator.[5]

Reno's next assignment was as ordnance officer at the [3]

Civil War

When he returned from Utah in 1859, Reno was promoted to captain for fourteen years of continuous service. Captain Reno then took command of the Mount Vernon Arsenal near Mount Vernon, Alabama, in 1859. At dawn on January 4, 1861, Reno was forced to surrender the arsenal to troops from Alabama, a bloodless transfer ordered by the governor of Alabama, Andrew B. Moore.[6] Alabama seceded from the Union a week later.

Upon leaving Alabama with his small force, Reno was temporarily assigned to command the Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's North Carolina Expedition from February through July 1862. Reno became a division commander in the IX Corps,[2] which had become part of the Army of the Potomac. In the Northern Virginia Campaign, Reno actively opposed his friend and classmate Stonewall Jackson during the Second Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Chantilly. Reno was appointed a major general on August 20, 1862. (This promotion was confirmed posthumously on March 9, 1863, with date of rank established as July 18, 1862.)[7] Burnside became commander of the Army of the Potomac's right wing for the start of the Maryland Campaign in September, elevating Reno to command of the IX Corps from September 3.[2]

Reno had a reputation as a "soldier's soldier" and often was right beside his troops without a sword or any sign of rank.[8] On September 12, 1862, Reno's IX Corps spent the day in Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee. Elements of Lee's army defended three low-lying "gaps" of South MountainCrampton's, Turner's, and Fox's—while concentrating at Sharpsburg, Maryland, to the west, the location of the subsequent Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862). In the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, Reno stopped directly in front of his troops as he reconnoitered the enemy's forces advancing up the road at Fox's Gap. He was hit in the chest by a Confederate sharpshooter's bullet. He was brought by stretcher to Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis's command post and said in a clear voice, "Hallo, Sam, I'm dead!" Sturgis, a long-time acquintance and fellow member of the West Point Class of 1846, thought that he sounded so natural that he must be joking and told Reno that he hoped it was not as bad as all that. Reno repeated, "Yes, yes, I'm dead—good-by!", dying a few minutes later.[9] In his official report, Confederate general D. H. Hill sarcastically remarked, "The Yankees on their side lost General Reno, a renegade Virginian, who was killed by a happy shot from the Twenty-third North Carolina."[10]

In memoriam

Reno Monument at Fox's Gap, South Mountain Battlefield

Reno's body was first taken to Boston, the home of his wife, and placed in a vault in

  • "Major General Jesse Lee Reno". Antietam on the Web. Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  • "Remembering Reno". Paul Martin. Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  • "Jesse L. Reno". West Virginia Division of Culture & History. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  • Fort Reno, Oklahoma
  • Major General Jesse Lee Reno Monument in El Reno, Oklahoma
  • Fort Reno in Washington, D.C.
  • "Jesse L. Reno".  

External links

  • McConnell, William. Remember Reno: A Biography of Major General Jesse Lee Reno. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1996. ISBN 978-1-57249-020-8.

Further reading

  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Sears, Stephen W. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. ISBN 0-89919-172-X.
  • U.S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • The Parke Society Newsletter. Vol.36-No.2 pages 28–29 dated 1999.


  1. ^ Warner, p. 394.
  2. ^ a b c Eicher, p. 449.
  3. ^ a b West Virginia Division of Culture & History
  4. ^ Antietam on the Web
  5. ^ West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
  6. ^ Official Records, Series I, Vol. I, Chap. III, p. 327.
  7. ^ Warner, p. 395; Eicher, p. 704.
  8. ^ Central Maryland Heritage League Land Trust
  9. ^ Sears, p. 140.
  10. ^ Official Records, Series I, Vol. XIX, Part I, Chap. XXXI, p. 1020
  11. ^ Warner, p. 395.


See also

Reno County, Kansas is also named in his honor.

The United States Army named three outposts after Reno: Fort Pennsylvania in present-day Washington, D.C., was renamed Fort Reno in 1862, Fort Reno was constructed near present-day El Reno, Oklahoma in 1874, the third Fort Reno was built in present-day Wyoming on the Bozeman Trail in 1865.

The cities of Reno, Nevada, El Reno, Oklahoma, and Reno, Pennsylvania, are all named for the general. The first two contain monuments to him in their downtown areas. The one in Reno stands along Virginia Street; the one in El Reno stands in Youngheim Plaza on Sunset Drive.

A memorial marking the location of his death was erected in 1889 by IX Corps veterans on present-day Reno Monument Road in Fox's Gap at the South Mountain State Battlefield Park. A monument for Confederate Brig. Gen. Samuel L. Garland, Jr. of Virginia also killed near here was erected nearby in 1993 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Central Maryland Heritage League along with a large stone and bronze sculpture to North Carolina soldiers defending the line in 2005.


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