Grand Army of the Republic
Lt. Colonel Louis Humphreys
Commander 1870-1871

 Louis Humphreys

Born in Springfield, Ohio on 21 September 1816. His father had emigrated from Ireland before the Revolutionary War and did service in the cause of Independence. His mother was from Virginia.

His early education came at an academy in Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky and his high school was taken at Springfield, Ohio. At the age of 22, in 1838, he moved to South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, where his older brother, Doctor Harvey Humphreys had an established medical practice. He read medicine with his brother for a short time and then went to the Indiana Medical Collage, located then in Laporte, Laporte County, Indiana. Here he studied under Doctor Daniel Meeker until this department of the Collage suspended. The full course of medicine was then sixteen weeks. It is thought by this writer that he then went to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, where he completed his studies and received a diploma in 1844. On April 4th 1844 he married Miss Margaret Pierson, a native of Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York.

Upon his return to South Bend, Doctor Lewis Humphries took up practice with his brother until his brothers death. He was also appointed to the Board of Health under the new city charter. He soon became one of the leading physicians and surgeons of northern Indiana and southern Michigan and his fame extended all over the state. He saw at an early date the need and benefit of a medical society. In June 1855 he organized the St. Joseph County Medical Society.

When the War of the Rebellion broke out he had the opportunity to take command but his better judgement told him that he could do the cause more good in his profession. And when the 29th Indiana Volunteer Infantry was formed in July of 1861, under Colonel John F. Miller, Doctor Humhreys was made regimental Surgeon. In March of 1862 he was made brigade surgeon and served until June 1862 in that position. At that time the medical department of the Army had become so unwieldy that the rules laid down in army regulations were insufficent to handle it. There were thousands of surgeons and their subordinates, to look after numerous quantites of medical stores at the different depots of supply and interminable hospital services that all required looking after.

On February 9, 1863, Joseph K. Barnes was appointed a medical inspector with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and with station in Washington. On April 16, 1862, an act was passed (12 Stat. 378) for the reorganization of the medical department which gave the Surgeon General the rank of brigadier general, created an assistant Surgeon General and a medical inspector with rank of colonel, eight medical inspectors with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and provided for medical purveyors. This was the first time when actual rank in the medical department had exceeded the grade of major, except that the Surgeon General had the grade of colonel. On September 3, 1863, Barnes was by a special order of the War Department "empowered to take charge of the bureau of the Medical Department of the army and to perform the duties of Surgeon General during the absence of that officer." He assumed the office of acting Surgeon General the following day thus beginning one of the longest and most eventful administrations in the history of the office. On August 22, 1864, he was advanced to the position of Surgeon General, with the grade of brigadier general.

There was needed a link between the surgeon-general of the army and his highest subordinates. A Corps of eight medical inspectors were appointed and commissioned by President Lincoln. These men were selected through no powerful political influence as too may of the army appointments were made. They were chosen rather for their eminent fitness for the responsible position, as shown by their record in the profession at home and in the army. One of the very first appointment was Doctor Humphreys who was removed from his Army of the Cumberland brigade and send to the Army of the Potomac at Washington DC. IN about six months he was transferred to Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky where he continued as Medical Inspector until June 1 1866 when he was mustered out of service.

On his return to South Bend he resumed the practice of medicine and his interest in the affairs of South Bend. In 1867 he was Chairman of the South Bend city board of Health, 1867. Elected Mayor of South Bend, Saint Joseph County, Indiana in 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871. He was one of the founders and first president of the Saint Joseph County Savings Bank founded November 25 1869 and opened January 1870. He served as president until his death in 1880.He was a Sabbath School Teacher at First Presbyterian Church, South Bend. And held other offices in the church his whole life. He was also one of the founders of the Saint Joseph County Historical Society on 25 October 1867. He was elected President of the Indiana Medical Society and Association for the 1879 1880 term, but due to illness never presided.

He was a founding member and first Post Commander, GAR Post #8, J. Autin Post, 22 August 1866 and the post was admitted to the Department of Indiana 31 August 1866. He served three terms as Post Commander 1866, 1867 and 1868. In 1868 he was elected Department Commander and was the last elected Department of Indiana Commander until 1879. During this time all the department papers and early records were destroyed in a fire at South Bend, Indiana.

In 1868 Autin Post became Post #17 Department of Indiana. And on 19 August 1879 Autin Post 17 became Autin Post 64, Department of Illinois. This was in the period that the Department of Indiana was not active due to the passage of the second G.A.R. constitution. And on 31 October 1879 Autin Post #17 reformed as Autoin Post #8, Department of Indiana, when Indiana again held its muster in and encampment at Terre Haute, Vigo Indiana.

Doctor Humphreys died after a long illness at 9 O'clock Sunday, May 9th 1880. He was buried at City Cemetery, South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana in Section 1 East, Block 8 and Lot 31, Grave 3.


A History of Saint Joseph County, Indiana, Charles C. Chapman & Company, Chicago, IL, 1880

A History of Saint Joseph County, Indiana, Volume 1, Timothy Edwards Howard

Lewis publishing Company, Chicago, IL and New York, NY, 1907, Pages 358, 360, 378, 412, 416, 453

History of Hamilton County Ohio, Compiled by Henry A. Ford, A. M.& Mrs. Kate B. Ford

L. A. Williams & Co., Publishers, 1881

Indiana and Indianaians, Dunn, Jacob Piatt, The American Historical Society 1919

Volume II, Pages 809, 811, 841

The South Bend Weekly Tribune, Saturday, May 15 1880, Page 2

The St. Joseph Valley Weekly Register, Wednesday, May 12 1880, page 2

Submitted february 18 2001 by:
Stephen Bruce Bauer

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