Maj. G. O. Haller, courtesy of USAMHI, Carlisle.
Background posts: Major Granville Haller, To Surrender York or Not, Part II, York native orders civilians to blockade mountain passes near Dillsburg, Book chronicles York native dismissed from the U.S. Army for alleged disloyalty, York army officer’s career destroyed by USN officer from Reading
Major Granville O. Haller of the 7th U.S. Infantry was the “Defender of the Susquehanna,” the Federal officer in charge of the defenses of Adams and York counties and the vital river crossing at Wrightsville during the Gettysburg Campaign. Haller’s actions were not without controversy, and some period observers such as Chambersburg storekeeper and author / writer Jacob Hoke and Professor Michael Jacobs of Gettysburg blamed Haller for his command decisions at Gettysburg in ordering untrained militia to resist the oncoming veteran Confederates. By contrast, some in York equally blamed Haller for his passive non-resistance in that town.
Cannonball reader Guy Breshears is a published author who has studied the life of Granville Oewn Haller. A few years ago, he wrote an interesting account of the July 1863 dismissal of the major for alleged improper remarks about the President and the fall of the Federal government, comments made in a toast that a rival officer trumped up into formal charges. It took Haller years to clear his name in a formal inquiry after the war.
Mr. Breshears, who visited York a couple of years ago to further research Haller, e-mailed me some photos related to Haller’s career in the Pacific Northwest, where he was posted before the war at Fort Dalles.
Guy commented that “Fort Dalles is located in The Dalles, Oregon and along the Columbia River. It was the primary base of operations for what is now eastern Washington, north-eastern Oregon, all of Idaho and western Montana. The reason it had a large area was because very few whites settled in these areas. Most went to western Oregon and Washington to settle. Other forts in the area were Fort Vancouver which was the headquarters of the region and Fort Steilicoom which protected the Puget Sound area. All the forts are still in existence and can be visited.
When Haller came to the region, along with the regimental baggage, he was assigned to Fort Dalles. The commanding officer was Major Gabriel Rains [later a Confederate general] who caused Haller much problems. Later on Major Rains was transferred to Fort Vancouver and Haller was given command of Fort Dalles.
The Surgeon’s Quarters is the only building left of the original fort. It is now a office and a museum. The original fort grounds was several square miles. Now it’s only a couple of square blocks.”
Granville Haller occupied the long gone commanding officer’s house commemorated by this plaque. From my recently published book, Flames Beyond Gettysburg, The Gordon Expedition, June 1863, Haller was “born and raised in York. In 1821, when he was two years old, his father George died, leaving a widow and four small children. His mother raised her family using rental income from several houses in York that she inherited from her husband. She sent her oldest son to medical college and wanted Granville to attend the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. However, he preferred a military career to that of a minister. After Haller graduated in 1838 from the York County Academy, the board of trustees recommended him for an appointment to West Point. In a resolution passed October 23, 1838, trustee Charles Weiser praised Haller, calling him a young man of “excellent moral character” who had strong “habits of study and perseverance.” However, U.S. Senator James Buchanan appointed William B. Franklin, son of his recently deceased close friend, Clerk of the House of Representatives Walter Franklin.
Haller traveled to Washington and confronted the Secretary of War. He was invited to appear before a board of military officers, and he received a commission in November 1839 as a lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry. He fought Seminole Indians in Florida in 1840-41 and later served with distinction at Monterey, Vera Cruz, and other battles during the Mexican War, officering in the same regiment as Ulysses S. Grant. He was brevetted captain “for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle o Chapultepec,” and promoted to captaincy in January 1848. Four years later, the Army brevetted Haller as major of the 7th U.S. Infantry and transferred him to the Washington Territory, where he hunted down Indians who were part of localized insurrections. Haller often hung their leaders as an example to others who did not obey the white man’s law. In 1860, he served in California and the Arizona Territory.”