Ask most Civil War buffs to name ten Union generals that fought at Gettysburg, and the name David McMurtrie Gregg will most likely not be on the list. He has long been overshadowed by more popular officers with better media coverage, or better known exploits. And yet, in his time, he was one of the more capable generals from Pennsylvania and arguably the best cavalry officer from this area.
Gregg was born on April 10, 1833, in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania (east of Altoona). His grandfather was a U. S. congressman and a first cousin, Andrew Gregg Curtin, was the Republican governor of the Keystone State during the Civil War. Gregg graduated from West Point in 1855 and served in the west, including a stint as an Indian fighter in the Washington Territory.
During the Gettysburg Campaign, he led a division of Union cavalry that marched into York County and paused for some time at Hanover Junction before backtracking and eventually arriving at Gettysburg. There, some of his men participated in the fighting on East Cavalry Field.
Here are some photos of his monument and associated signs along Centre Street in Reading, PA, the town where he lived most of his life and is buried in Charles Evans Cemetery.
Image of David M. Gregg courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Gregg served capably as a division commander until late in 1864, when he resigned from the army for pressing personal reasons. He moved to Reading, his wife’s home town, and set up a residence. He applied for reinstatement to the army after the war, but did not get an assignment that he wanted. Gregg served briefly in an overseas diplomatic assignment, but his wife grew homesick, so they returned to Reading to live out their lives.
Gregg served as the Auditor General of Pennsylvania beginning in 1891. At the time of his death in 1916 at the age of 83, he was one of the last surviving generals in Pennsylvania.
Today, General David M. Gregg is remembered by the equestrian statue in Reading and by a memorial shaft on East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg.