Grand Army of the Republic
Jonathan B. Hager
Department Commander 1879

Source:  Community Archives, Vigo County Public Library

The subject of this sketch, Jonathan Benjamin Hager, the last child of George and Eleanor Hager was born in Hagerstown, Washington, Maryland, in June of 1822. In 1835 he became a resident of Terre Haute, Indiana in company with his father's family. His father started a dry goods business just north of the courthouse in Terre Haute.

Jonathan’s father, George Hager, was born 24 July 1787 in Hagerstown, Washington, Maryland was the son of Jonathan “the Tavernkeeper and Wagonmaker” Hager, who kept the Fountain Inn on the public square across from the court house. Though not obviously related to the founder of Hagerstown, Jonathan Hager, born 1714, although he did share to some extent the founding of Hagerstown with that other Jonathan. There is some information, which alludes to a relationship between the two, and it is probably true, although the relationship may well go back to similar German roots. George married Eleanor Waugh on 22 May 18??, who was a native of (West) Virginia, having been born 15 October 1794, in the village of Falling Waters, Berkeley, (West) Virginia.

Jonathan received an appointment to West Point Academy, where he entered as a cadet, 01 July 1840. He, however, remained in that institution but two years. Among his classmates were General Hancock, Hatch, Pleasanton, general S.B. Buckner, of the Confederacy, and others, who afterwards distinguished themselves in the war of the Rebellion.

After leaving West Point, Mr. Hager returned to Terre Haute, where for several years he was actively engaged in various branches of business, and where he soon fully established himself, and acquired the reputation of a wide-awake, active, and energetic man of business. He was married, in 1853 in Utica, Oneida, New York to Miss Emeline Wright; their family consisted of one daughter, Martha Hager. He was elected the city of Terre Haute’s Civil Engineer on May 02 1854. He also served two terms in the city council, and while occupying that position championed the cause of retrenchment and economy, and was an outspoken and vigorous opponent of everything that looked like a raid upon the people’s treasury. He was an active and consistent Republican, though not by any means a politician in the ordinary sense of the word. He was know to speak forcibly and to the point, never failing to give the truth of his sentiments, and was known to be persistent almost to obstinacy in his defense of what he believed to be right. Emphatically opposed to all shams and pretenses, he was unsparing in his denunciation of frauds, social or political, and this furnishes a good index to his whole character.

Captain Hager was a man who shirked from any thing that looks like notoriety, it is therefore, from other sources that our best material is gathered. A man of sterling worth, sound practical sense, unflinching integrity, and scrupulous personal honor, he paid the strictest attention to the details of his business, and the greater part of his extensive manufacturing was carried on under his personal supervision

He was a member of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, who for so long a time had been notably identified with the welfare of St. Stephen’s church. Upon his death he was the oldest surviving member of its vestry, having been elected to fill a vacancy on Easter Morning, 1853. And for a time after performed the duties of secretary in the absence of that functionary. At the annual election in April, 1855, he was made Junior Warden and as such continued until April 1857 when he was elected vestry clerk in which capacity he served up to the time he entered the army for the suppression of the rebellion in 1861. 

On the outbreak of the war, Mr. Hager immediately gave his insurance company to his brother Luther G. Hager. He then took an active part in the support of the government and raised a company in the 14th Indiana Volunteers. The Fourteenth Regiment was originally organized at Camp Vigo, near Terre Haute, in May 1861, as one of the six regiments of State troops accepted for one year. Upon the call for three years' troops, the regiment volunteered, almost unanimously, for that service. The new organization was mustered into United States' service at Terre Haute, on the 7th of June, l861, being the first three years' regiment mustered in from Indiana. With 1134 men and officers, and Nathan Kimbal as its Colonel, the Fourteenth arrived at Indianapolis on the 24th of June, where it remained until the 5th of July. But before going to the field he was transferred, with a captain’s commission, to the 14th Regular Infantry. 

As civil war loomed in May 1861, President Lincoln called for the constitution and organization of eight additional Regular Army infantry regiments (a ninth was shortly added). These regiments were designated the 11th through the 19th Infantry. The headquarters of the regiment was fixed at Fort Trumbull, New Haven, Connecticut, and the first order, temporarily assigning officers appointed to date May 14th to companies, was issued on the 8th of July 1861. Lieutenant Colonel John F. Reynolds, who organized the new regiment and was its first commander, signed this order.

During the War of 1812 the ancestor of 14th US Infantry was formed by General and Governor of Maryland Levin Winder, who also laid the corner stone of the Washington Monument. They earned the nickname "mob boys" on the northern front because most of them were from Baltimore, Maryland. The 14th U.S. Infantry, was also known, in 1812, as the Maryland Infantry. Now another man from Maryland would be in her company, Captain J. B. Hager.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 14th Infantry was constituted on 3 May 1861 and organized at Fort Trumbull, New Haven, Connecticut on 1 July 1861. The first company was organized and put into camp on the 17th of August. It was under the command of Captain Samuel Ross, a veteran, who had joined the Army as a private in 1837. A second company was soon organized and assigned to Captain Jonathan B. Hager. A battalion was organized, mustered and inspected on August 31st, and Lieutenant W.R. Sedberg announced as adjutant. "The battalion first organized was designated the Second, as General Sykes, the senior major, had been assigned to the command of the 1st Battalion, but had not reported. 

Due to a lack of personnel the 3rd Battalion was not organized. On 30 April 1862, the 2nd Battalion from which the present 14th Infantry descends was redesignated the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry and the original 1st Battalion was redesignated the 2nd Battalion 

"So rapidly was the regiment recruited that eight companies and the band were organized and sent by the middle of October to Perryville, Cecil, Maryland where they went into Camp Stone, so-called, after their first colonel.

As Major G. R. Giddings, the proper commandant of the 2d Battalion, was kept back at Fort Trumbull in command of the regiment, the command of the battalion sent to Perryville devolved on the senior captain, J. D. O’Connell, universally known in the Army as "Paddy." He had served in the old 2d Infantry from 1852 to 1861. On 17 March 1862 the 14th Infantry as part of the Army of the Potomac saw its first combat action in the Peninsula Campaign. The Regiment went on to see action in some of the most famous campaigns of the Civil War to include Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness and Petersburg. 

An example of the lack of an effective system of replacing casualties in infantry regiments resulted in the regiments becoming progressively smaller as the war continued. The small size of the units and the detailing of field-grade officers to higher staffs often resulted in a regiment being led by a company grade officer when in the field. Such was the case with the 14th, which was often led into battle by its senior Captain Paddy O'Connell in whose honor O'Connell Field, Fort Davis, Panama Canal Zone was named. But with Captain O’Connell being at the 14th US Infantry’s Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania recruiting station in May of 1863, Captain Hager assumed command of the regiment in the field and led it into the battle of Chancelorsville. The 14th US Infantry was then in the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac

In recognition of the regiment's heroic performance of duty during twelve of the bloodiest campaigns of the Civil War, General George Meade, awarded the 14th Infantry Regiment the place of honor at the "Right of the Line" in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac in Richmond, Virginia at the end of the war. Stating that the Regiment foremost in battle deserved to be foremost in honors. Thus, the “Right of the Line” became the official motto of the Regiment and they still bear it proudly on their colors and on the Regimental Crest.

March 13, 1865 - General Marsena Randolph Patrick was appointed Provost Marshal of all armies operating against Richmond, and takes control of the city government. The Provost Guard of the Army of the Potomac consisted of: Companies C and D, 2nd Indiana Cavalry, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, 1st Battalion of the 11th US Infantry and the 2nd Battalion of the 14th US Infantry. Captain Hager was appointed a Provost-Marshall of that city. 

And the last great event of war times in Indiana was the funeral honors paid to Lincoln. The special train, which ran from Indianapolis to Richmond to meet the funeral train, bore a large number of prominent men of the state. Among those from Indiana were Colonel R. N. Hudson and Colonel Thompson. Among the guard of honor at the state house were, from Terre Haute: Captain J. B. Hager, of the Fourteenth United States Infantry, and Colonel W. E. McLean, of the Forty-third Indiana. Colonel Thompson was one of the pallbearers, and Colonel McLean and Colonel Hudson were marshals at the funeral procession in Indianapolis. Captain J. B. Hager was on the third watch; 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM standing guard over the body of the president at the state capital building.

Between August and November 1865, the three battalions of the 14th left New York City and journeyed to San Francisco, California by way of Aspinwall and Panama City. The regiment was billeted at the Presidio by the Golden Gate for some weeks and then broken up in company organizations and sent to stations in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. On June 2, 1866, Captain Hager arrived at Camp Bowie, Cochise county, Arizona Territory from Camp Whipple, located in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, with 47 men of Company G, 14th Infantry, 3rd Battalion, and assumed command of the post. Camp Bowie protected the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. It served thirty-two years as the center of operations against the Chiricahua Apache Indians. Captain Hager was in command of the camp from June 2, 1866 until August 1866 when he went on leave and resigned his commission. With his wife and daughter, he made the overland journey home, which required three months to accomplish.

On his return to private life, he was again elected a vestryman of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and continuously re-elected each year up to the time of his death. And while the office of Senior Warden (by custom and courtesy the highest office in the gift of the vestry) was frequently at his disposal, he modestly declined its acceptance.

The Terre Haute Car and Manufacturing Company was established in 1868, by Seath & Hager, (as a foundry and later absorbed by the American Car and Foundry Co.) and continued under this management until 1878, when the company was incorporated with a capital of $50,000. The products of this company consisted of freight cars, car wheels, railroad castings and machinery. They were in the year 1878, giving employment to about 300 hands, to which they payed weekly about $2,500. Their business during the year of 1879 would amount to about $650,000. The officers of this incorporated company were Jonathan B. Hager, president; and treasurer; James Smith, vice-president and superintendent; and Luther G. Hager, secretary; the two former being the active members of the company. 

Captain Hager was the organizer and first Post Commander of the Oliver. P. Morton Post #1, Grand Army of the Republic located in Terre Haute, receiving its charter from the Department of Illinois in 1879, and in sixty days, the Post was recruited to 300 members.  He was appointed provisional commander of the Department of Indiana in April 26, 1879 and was appointed Department of Indiana Commander on October 3, 1879.

Captain Hager was a member of the Ohio (1882) Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Indiana Commandery not being founded until 1888. He was also a mmber of Terre Haute Commandery, No. 16, of A. F. and A.M. in the association of freemasonry and has filled the chair of eminent commander of the Terre Haute Commandery.

Captain Hager died at Pine Orchard near Branford, New Haven, Connecticut, on 6 PM the evening of August 28th, 1885. The officers of the G.A.R., Captain W.H. Armstrong presiding, held memorial services on Sunday night at 7:30 at St. Stephen’s church, where several friends of the deceased made addresses and appropriate remarks. Invitations to attend were extended to the Mayor and members of the council, and to the officers of the various organizations to which Mr. Hager belonged. 

At three o’clock on 01 September 1885, the funeral of the late Captain J. B. Hager took place at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The remains were in charge of the Grand Army of the Republic. George E. Farrington, Captain, had the following men detailed at the Hager house since the arrival of the corpse from Connecticut, D. Denny, Joseph McClosky and Charles Shutts, Hamilton Elliott, William Richards, Henry Webber, W.B. Mc Ivane, Patrick Kelly and I. N. Butcher, Robert. Hines, Sergeant in charge of the detail was C.N. Walton.

The following gentlemen acted as pall bearers, the first four in military capacity and the last four as citizens; Captain W.H. Armstrong, Major Frank Crawford, Colonel R.N. Hudson, of Terre Haute and Colonel Robertson of Ft. Wayne, W.R. McKeen, John S. Beech, L. Genis and Colonel Thos. B. Nelson.

Reverend Doctor Delafieldl conducted the service at the church according to Episcopal ritual. The Morton G.A.R. Post conducted services at the cemetery. He was the first of the department officers of the state to die. He was buried on at Woodlawn Cemetery, 1230 N 3rd Street, Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana in Grave No. 7, Lot No: 42 S1/2, Block: 6, Section: 35


National Archives Microfilm Publication M688, Roll 118, No.208--245 1838
U.S. Military Academy Cadet Application Papers, 1805 - 1866

Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy, 
West Point New York, Volume III, 1838 to 1847

Adjutant General Report of the State of Indiana, W. H. H. Terrell, Volume I, Pages 86-87

Historical Register of the U.S. Army from its Organization Sept. 29, 1789 to Sept. 29, 1889, by Heitman, Francis Bernard. Wash. D.C. The National Tribune, 1890.

History of Vigo and Parke Counties, Together With Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley, H.W. Beckwith – 1880. Terre Haute, pp. 41-50; 183-185; 205-206; 220-227.

Vigo County Indiana Public Library

Indianapolis Journal, April 30, 1865, Page 2 Column 7

Terre Haute Evening Gazette, August 29, 1885, Page 1

Terre Haute Evening Gazette, September 1, 1885, Page 1

Winchester Journal, Page 1, Column 5, 30 October 1912

A Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana. Published by Western Biographical publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1880, Volume II, District 8, Pages 21-22

Indiana Civil War Veterans, Transcription of the Death Rolls of the Department of Indiana, Grand Army of the Republic, 1882-1948, by Dennis Northcott, 2005. page 385.


Submitted by Stephen Bruce Bauer with assistance from Tim Beckman.

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