Major Andrew J. Grover

Was born in West Dryden, Tompkins county, New York, on the twenty-second day of December, 1830. His early advantages for an education were limited to the privileges furnished by our common schools at that time. At the age of seven years, death deprived him of both his parents, so he may be said to have commenced life almost alone.

When sixteen years of age, burning with a desire to see the world, and prompted by a military ardor which is so common to youth of that age, but which in him was a development of a peculiar adaptation of mind for military art and science, he enlisted in the army then being raised for the Mexican war. After a brief stay in New York, he sailed with the expedition, which eventually landed at Vera Cruz, and subsequently, led by General Scott, entered the City of Mexico and explored the famed "halls of the Montezumas". Here he had an attack of fever peculiar to that climate, which came near carrying him to his grave, and the effects of which attended him to the close of his eventful and useful life, it having caused a lameness which was often attended with excruciating pain.

Such was his bearing as a soldier while in the army, that at the close of his term of enlistment he was offered an office in the regular service, if he would renew his enlistment and remain. This, however, he declined, preferring to return to the walks of civil life. At the close of the war with Mexico, each soldier who was honorably discharged received a warrant for one hundred and sixty acres of land. Colonel Grover sold his, and with the avails commenced a course of education, which he sought In the Groton, then the Ithaca, and finally in the Cazenovia Seminaries. In these Institutions he attained a fair educational training, but what was better, he contacted habits of study which attended him during his whole life. He was a keen observer of men and things, and a thorough student. With a keen perception and a quick apprehension, he was enabled to master speedily whatever he undertook.

In 1852 he entered the Christian ministry, in which he continued until the fall of 1861. There his success was eminent, he having attained to a high position for one of his age, in the church of his choice. He always won the esteem and confidence, as well as the affection, of his people. His pulpit efforts were clear, logical and forcible, always commanding the admiration, and awakening the convictions of his audience.

In the autumn of 1861, seeing and feeling the peril of his country, he felt it to be his duty to throw himself into the breach, in common with thousands of his brave countrymen, for the defense of the Government. He assisted in raising the Seventy-sixth Regiment. Some estimate can be made of his energy and popularity, when it is known that in less than a month his company was full and mustered into the service of the country. His commission as Captain bears date January seventeenth, 1862.

In the spring of 1862 he took the field and participated in the toils and dangers of the stirring events which during that summer occurred in Northern Virginia. He participated in the battles at Rappahannock Station, August twenty-second, Warrenton (Sulphur) Springs, August twenty-sixth, and Gainesville, August twenty-eighth. In this last battle he was ordered forward just in the evening twilight, with a detachment of his company, to feel of the enemy, who were known to be in the vicinity. On coming within rifle range, he heard the order of the enemy to fire. Ever careful of his men, he directed them to lie down, but remained himself standing. Here he received two severe wounds, which, for a time, were thought to be mortal; one in his leg and the other in his back. Here for an hour and a half he and his men lay, he suffering from three wounds, while a terrific fight was waged between the two armies, the shot from either side flying over them. When the fight was over he was brought off the field and conveyed to Washington, where for many weeks he lay, enduring as only our brave soldiers knew how to endure, the suffering arising from wounds received in defense of country and great principles. When at the last he so far recovered as to return to his home, supposing himself unfitted fur further service in the army, he resigned his commission, with the purpose of again entering upon his pastoral duties. But he recovered rapidly, and, contrary to the expectations of all, regained nearly all his former soundness.

In February, 1863, without his knowledge or solicitation, he was appointed Major of his Regiment. This was no small compliment to him from his old companions in arms who recommended his appointment, and is good evidence of the high esteem in which they held him as a companion and a soldier. After much anxious thought he concluded to accept this unexpected call as an indication of Providence, as to his line of duty. He accordingly bid adieu to his wife and children, and again accepted the fatigues and perils of the field. From May first to the sixth he fought at Chancellorsville, winning the confidence of all by his military skill and bravery.

On the morning of the first of July, 1863, he was in command of his Regiment on the eventful field of Gettysburg. He led his men with great gallantry, but, following his orders, he led them into the crater of a volcano. Early in the battle which opened the terrible but decisive conflict of that field, he was struck by a rifle ball near the heart, and lived only a few moments after; but he was composed and calm, looking death in the face with the same Christian heroism with which he met the enemies of his country. He gave his watch with the badges of his rank to a comrade, requesting that they be given to his wife, and then, on the bloody field and amidst the roar of battle, awaited the summons of the Great Captain of salvation in the heavens. No doubt his thoughts during those brief moments dwelt with his wife and children, whom he so tenderly loved, but whom he was to meet no more in this life. Sometime previous to this he had been recommended for the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, but for some reason his commission was not received until after his death.

Colonel Grover was a man of superior mental abilities, of warm attachments, and possessed of a most generous disposition. An ardent friend of most courteous manners. Sometimes, when engrossed in a subject which deeply interested him, he appeared to those who did not know him well, as Impetuous; but this was more in appearance than reality. He had a keen sense of honor and was a man of high Integrity. As a soldier, he was patriotic, prompt, strict in discipline, and brave. No officer carried with him the confidence of his men in this respect, to a greater extent than he did. That he stood high with his superiors, the following letters to his bereaved family will show. Colonel Wainwright, who had formerly commanded the Seventy-sixth, writes:-

MORRISTOWN N.J. August 11th, 1863.

MY Dear Madam:-

I am well aware that nothing can add to the comfort which the Christian hope for those we love always gives; but it is some gratification to learn that our friends were appreciated by those who had opportunity of knowing them thoroughly in their peculiar vocation, and it is especially so as to the Character of a soldier in these times of active service, which bring every point conspicuously to sight. As commanding officer of the Seventy-sixth, I had learned to esteem your lamented husband, for his distinguished courage on the field, and for his knowledge of his duties, as well as his unflinching determination in performing them. On leaving the regiment I felt it was in good hands, and he has proved in the battle in which he h as lost his life that it was so. Such men are not only a great loss to their regiments, but to the service, for their is a quiet influence from their example, which affects every officer brought in contact with them. As a man and a soldier, Major Grover always appeared to me a model, and in the management of his Company when Captain, in the gallant manner in which he led our skirmishers at Gainesville, or more recently as Commander of the Regiment at Gettysburg, he has given every reason for those who knew him to lament his loss. With high respect I am, dear madam,

Very sincerely your friend,
Late Colonel 76th N. Y. Vols.

The following is from General L. Cutler, who at the time commanded the Brigade to which the Seventy-sixth was attached:

In the Field, July 13th, 1863

My Dear MADAM:

It is my painful duty to announce to you the death of your good and brave husband, who fell bravely leading his Regiment to the bloody battle of July first, at Gettysburg, Pa. I was within a few paces of him when he fell. He was among the bravest of the brave, and fell lamented by all who knew him. His regiment behaved worthy of their leader, and although losing more than half their number, fought on through the three bloody days, and are still ready to avenge their fallen leader and comrades, and to restore the Government of the Union. Allow me to offer you my sincere condolence for your great loss, and to assure you that he died in a glorious cause, and without a fear or murmur.

The body was buried on the field with the men who fell by his side. We could do no more.

I am very truly yours,
Brig.-General Commanding Brigade

Such was the testimony of those who had the best opportunity to know him, and who were the most capable of judging of his merits as a man and an officer. He probably was not more virtuous or more brave than many others who went forth In the great strife for our national existence, but he was as good and as brave as any. In October the remains of Colonel Grover were recovered, through the exertions of his ever affectionate and faithful wife, and were brought to Cortland by C. P. Cole, Esq., of the GAZETTE AND BANNER, for final interment.

The funeral services at Cortland, were conducted by the Masonic fraternity, to which Colonel Grover belonged. Large delegations of brethren were in attendance from Utica, Syracuse, Homer, Marathon, Dryden, Binghamton, Cortland, and other Lodges, and the services of the Knights Templars, under Z. C. Priest, of Utica, as well as the Masonic burial service at the grave, under the direction of Clinton F. Paige, Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, were solemn and impressive.

The remains of Colonel Grover now lie in the Cortland Rural Cemetery, an early and noble offering upon the altar of an imperiled country.

- From the Regimental History of the 76th New York, A. P. Smith, 1867

Anita Wright of the Cortland County Historical Society, with assistance from Roundtable member Dick Palmer, has located two uniform tunics belonging to Major (then Captain) Andrew Grover in the archives of the Society. One of them is hand embroidered in the lining with his name and rank and "Company A, 76th NY Vol. Regt". They were kept by his family for many years, eventually passing to the Grover Post of the GAR, then to the old Hatch Library, and finally to the Historical Society.

This website has Grover's death notice and an account of the recovery of Major Grover's remains from 1863 editions of the Cortland Gazette and Banner. 

The Personality of Andrew J. Grover

By Richard Palmer

Of all the officers that served in the 76th Regiment, no man was more revered and respected than Andrew J. Grover, who was killed during some of the earliest action at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, only a few days when he would have been promoted from major to colonel. Any who have at all studied this man will agree that he was the epitome of a Union officer, patriotic, courageous and an unquestioned leader. Much of this was from his discipline received in training as a Methodist minister and as a veteran of the Mexican War.

A friend and associate, the Rev. McKendree Shaw, once wrote, "He was very popular, a man of fine personality, a fluent speaker, a good scholar, a brilliant conversationalist, one of fine taste and very systematic in all his work, well adapted to draw and build up a church." Research reveals that he appears to have about the most respected officer in the 76th Regiment. All of his men appear to have felt comfortable going with him into battle.

Grover, then captain, wrote numerous letters about camp life while assigned to Fort De-Russey, one of the fortifications around Washington, D.C. where Company A of the 76th was encamped during the early spring of 1862.

Letters from Major Grover: April and May 1862.  June 11-26, 1862 

On October 8, 1851, Major Grover married Sylvanus Mabel FOX, (b. October 12, 1832, W. Dryden, Tompkins Co. NY, d. November 4, 1889, Cortland, NY). They had four children:

Julia GROVER b. 1853, m. (1) July 12, 1870, William C. BRIDGEFORD, m. (2) January 16, 1884, Aaron SAGER.

Mabel GROVER b. 1854, m. September 30, 1880, Edwin FULKERSON.

Mary GROVER b. 1857, m. October 14, 1880, DeWitt POTTER.

Alletta GROVER d. October 27, 1859.

The Major Grover Civil War Roundtable holds an annual ceremony on July 1st at Major Grover's grave. The gravesite may be visited at the Cortland Rural Cemetery on Tompkins Street (Route 13), Cortland, New York. The monument is centrally located in the cemetery, straight up the main road from the entrance. Below are pictures of the Grover monument, from several of the annual ceremonies.

Dedication of plaque on Andrew Jackson Grover's Grave
July 1, 2007

The original 19th century grave marker for Maj. Grover said little more than "A.J. Grover" and his rank and year of death.  On the occasion of the 144th anniversary of Grover's death, the Lt. Col. Grover Civil War Roundtable in Cortland, New York, placed a plaque at Grover's grave in the Cortland Rural Cemetery in Cortland, recognizing his position at the head of the 76th NY at the Battle of Gettysburg and giving his full name and dates of birth and death. The plaque was purchased with funds donated by members and a large donation from an anonymous donor.  

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- Last Updated March 1, 2009