Edward H. Leib

(1840 - 1892)

Edward Henry Leib was born on October 19, 1840 at Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He enlisted with the Washington Artillery of Pottsville immediately upon the firing of Fort Sumter and his company was the first to reach Washington, D.C.  When in the capital he accepted a commission as second lieutenant in the 2nd United States Cavalry, in which capacity he served until August of 1861, when he joined the 5th United States Cavalry. The following is an excerpt of his wartime record from Report Number 1987 of the House of Representatives, 1st Session of the 50th Congress: 

"The engagements in which Colonel Leib participated during the war were as follows:

1861.-Capture of Alexandria, Va., May 23; Blackburn's Ford, July 18; first battle of Bull Run, July 21.

1862.-Catlett's Station, Va., March 12; Williamsburg, Va., May 5 and; Mechanicsville, May 24; Hanover Court-House, May 27; Old Church, June 1: For gallantry at this place he received a warm recommendation from Major-General Emory, his superior commander. Gaines's Mills, June 27; Savage Station, June 28; Malvern Hill, July 1; Harrison's Landing. July 3; White Oak Swamp. July 29. Colonel Leib's command did picket duty at St. Mary's Church and in front of Malvern Hill while on the Peninsula, and brought up the rear guard, under General Averell, when the Army left the Peninsula.

 

South Mountain) Md., September 14; Antietam, September 17; Sharpsburg, September 19. Colonel Lieb and his command then moved to Oldtown, Cumberland, Md., and Romney, Va. While at the latter place the Confederate General Stuart made a raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Our cavalry forces, commanded by General Averell, pursued him for over 300 miles. Halltown, Va., September 26 and 29; Union, November 2; Upperville, November 3; Manassas Gap, November 4; Little Washington, November 7; Amosville, November 10; second battle of Fredericksburg, December 13.

 

1863.-Kelly's Ford, Virginia, March 17. At this place Colonel Leib commanded the regiment. This was the first signal cavalry victory of the war for the Union troops. Raccoon Ford, April 30 ; Fleming's Cross-Roads, May 4 ; Beverly Ford, Middleburg, Aldie, Gettysburg, Pa., July 3; Williamsport, Mel., July 6; Boonesborough, July 8 and 9; Funkstown, Falling Waters, Hazel River, Virginia; Brandy Station, August 21; Mine Run, Charlottesville, and Stannardsville.

 

In 1864 Colonel Leib was stationed at Baltimore at the till of the invasion by the Confederate General Early. He offered his services to Major-General Wallace, and they were accepted. He was in the battle of July 7, at Frederick, Md., and brought up the rear guard on the 8th to Monocacy Junction. On the 9th he was ordered to take command of the one hundred days' regiments of infantry and to hold the Balti more-pike bridge crossing the Monocacy. He fought his command all day and lost a great number of men, but succeeded in holding the only road that General Wallace had to fall back on. The general states this fact in his report of operations. Finally Colonel Leib brought up to Baltimore the rear guard of our routed Army.

 

On the 13th of July he was appointed inspector and chief of cavalry of the Eighth Army Corps, and went to Washington with General Ord, where he assisted in driving the enemy from the gates. In the fall the colonel went on a raid in command of his regiment under General Torbert to Gordonsville, Va. They were gone twelve days and had two fights, one at Madison Court-House, the other near Gordonsville.

 

In 1865 Colonel Leib participated in the last grand raic1 under General Sheridan. After the battle of Waynesborough he captured with his regiment the town of Scottsville, a large amount of ammunition and provisions, and destroyed canal locks and boats. He captured the main railroad bridge over the South Anna River, 3 pieces of artillery, and 500 rounds of ammunition. He finally with his regiment reached White House, crossed at Deep Bottom, joined the Army of the Potomac, and took part in the battles before Richmond. Colonel Leib commanded the Fifth Regiment United States Cavalry during the last brilliant campaign, and was severely wounded in the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, a few days before the surrender of General Lee. He received a gunshot wound which entered the upper right arm and passed through the body, injuring the lungs.


This sums up as eventful a military career as could be compressed within a period of four years for a single individual. It is a record of which any soldier can be proud. Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, in recommending Colonel Leib for promotion, says: ''He was severely wounded at the battle of Five Forks, and received the brevet of major for 'heroic courage' in that action, and subsequently, upon the recommendation of General Sheridan, who complimented him on the field. he was brevetted lieutenant-colonel for gallant and meritorious services in that battle. Captain Leib is a young officer of great energy and ability, a strict disciplinarian, brave and gallant on the field of battle, and constant and untiring in the performance of his duty. He has been constantly in the field, and has participated in a very large number of important campaigns and battles during the war."


Accompanying the papers tiled with this case will be found highly commendatory personal letters from Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, Lieut. Gen. P. H. Sheridan, Maj. Gen. George Stoneman, Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace, Brig. Gen. James Nagle, Brig. Gen. William D. Whipple, Brig. Gen. W. H. Emory, General Gregg, and other officers under and with whom be served, and a strong recommendation, during the late war, from the leading citizens of the county (Schuylkill, in Pennsylvania) in which he resided before entering the service, for his appointment to the position of colonel of a Pennsylvania cavalry regiment.


On the 19th of May, 1865, Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, by direction of the President of the United States, commended Colonel Leib on the occasion of transmitting notice of promotion for his distinguished services and heroic courage of action. During the years 1866 and 1867 Colonel Leib was almost continuously on active duty. During the work of reconstruction he was stationed in various States under the order of the President. 

 

At the breaking out of Indian hostilities on the plains Colonel Leib's regiment was ordered to the frontier, and during the severe struggles on the border, in Kansas and Nebraska, he took a conspicuous part in the great Indian war of 1868 and 1869, most of the time acting independently, and with conspicuous success. Of Colonel Leib's lndian service it might be stated more particularly that he served from 1868 to 1877' on the plains, being stationed in Arizona awl engaged against the hostiles in that Territory. Previous to that he served in Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming, taking part in the campaign against the Indians. His last campaign was against Sitting Bull, which lasted several months.

 

Colonel Leib was in service from April, 1861, over sixteen years. The best years of l1is life were spent in the active service of the country, which, from wounds, etc., has left him broken in health and unfitted for any manual occupation.


We have traced Colonel Leib's history from the time he entered the military service of the United States in 1861 to 1877, when, we are sorry to say, this brilliant history is marred by unfortunate circumstances that followed, and which finally led to his dismissal from a branch of the Government service in which he had so highly and honorably distinguished himself and which he adorned by his heroic courage. The record furnished by the War Department shows that Colonel Leib was, by sentence of a court-martial, dismissed the service on May 9, 1887."

Colonel Leib was never reinstated even with such illustrious recommendations and a stellar war record. He was forced to take a position in the United States Pension office, where he remained for several years. He then retired to Millersburg with his brother, also a Civil War veteran, Major Frank R. Leib. Edward died on May 22, 1892 and was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery. A soldier's life he lived, though with sad consequences at the end of his life. Leib was only 51 years old at the time of his death.

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CDV of Colonel Edward H. Leib from the personal photo album of his friend, Myles Keogh, who was killed with Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876.

5th US Cav - Col. Edward H. Leib - Oak H

Even in death Colonel Leib occupies a lonely resting place, no family by his side. His brother Frank is buried in Harrisburg.