Department of the West

Department of the West

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The Department of the West, later known as the Western Department, was a major command (Department) of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 during the 19th century. It oversaw the military affairs in the country west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to the borders of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

.

Organization


The Department was first organized on October 31, 1853. It reported directly to the headquarters of the Army in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 It succeeded the Army of the West
Army of the West (1846)
The Army of the West was the name of the United States force commanded by Stephen W. Kearny during the Mexican-American War, which played a prominent role in the conquest of New Mexico and California....

, which had fought the Mexican-American War and was headquartered at Fort Leavenworth. In an 1853 reorganization the Department of the Pacific
Department of the Pacific
The Department of the Pacific was a major command of the United States Army during the 19th century.-Formation:The Department of the Pacific was first organized on October 31, 1853, at San Francisco, California, taking over from the previous Pacific Division. The department reported directly to...

 was created for California and Oregon. The Department of the West's headquarters after the Mexican War were at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, although it moved briefly to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, during the Bleeding Kansas
Bleeding Kansas
Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state of Missouri roughly between 1854 and 1858...

 skirmishes.

During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 the department was organized to include the country west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

, except for Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Utah Territory
Utah Territory
The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah....

, and New Mexico Territory
New Mexico Territory
thumb|right|240px|Proposed boundaries for State of New Mexico, 1850The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of...

, including Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Kansas....

 (the state of Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 after January 29, 1861), Nebraska Territory
Nebraska Territory
The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until March 1, 1867, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Nebraska. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854...

, Colorado Territory
Colorado Territory
The Territory of Colorado was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from February 28, 1861, until August 1, 1876, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Colorado....

 (after February 28, 1861), Dakota Territory
Dakota Territory
The Territory of Dakota was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1861, until November 2, 1889, when the final extent of the reduced territory was split and admitted to the Union as the states of North and South Dakota.The Dakota Territory consisted of...

 (after March 2, 1861), Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

(later the state of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

), and Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 west of the Mississippi River. On June 6, 1861, Missouri was transferred to the Department of the Ohio
Department of the Ohio
The Department of the Ohio was an administrative military district created by the United States War Department early in the American Civil War to administer the troops in the Northern states near the Ohio River.General Orders No...

.

On July 31, 1861, the Department of the West was merged into the Western Department of Maj. Gen.
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

. The Western Department, which had been organized on July 3, 1861, also included Missouri and Illinois from the Department of the Ohio and New Mexico Territory from the Department of New Mexico. Western Kentucky was added from the Department of Kentucky on August 15, 1861. Frémont was relieved by Maj. Gen. David Hunter
David Hunter
David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.-Early...

 under the orders of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, contingent upon the circumstance that Frémont did not lead an army into battle by October 24, 1861. The Western Department was discontinued on November 9, 1861, with New Mexico Territory being transferred to the Department of New Mexico
Department of New Mexico
The Department of New Mexico was a department of the United States Army during the mid-19th century. At first a part of the Department of the West, it was created as an independent department following the breakup of that Division into various departments during the Civil War...

, and the rest being divided between the Departments of Missouri and Kansas
Department of Kansas
The Department of Kansas was a Union Army command department in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. This department existed in three different forms during the war.-1861:...

.

Command history


Department commanders were:

Department of the West
Commander From To
Newman S. Clarke
Newman S. Clarke
Newman S. Clarke was a career military officer in the United States army who served with distinction during the Mexican-American War.Clarke was born in Connecticut and served in the United States Army during the War of 1812. At the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, he was appointed...

 
   
David E. Twiggs
David E. Twiggs
David Emanuel Twiggs was a United States soldier during the War of 1812 and Mexican-American War and a general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 
   
Persifor F. Smith     
Brig. Gen.
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 William S. Harney
William S. Harney
William Selby Harney was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War and the Indian Wars. He was born in what is today part of Nashville, Tennessee but at the time was known as Haysborough....

 
November 10, 1860
(assumed November 17)
April 23, 1861
Captain Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon was the first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War and is noted for his actions in the state of Missouri at the beginning of the conflict....

 (temporary)
April 23, 1861 April 29, 1861
Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Edmund B. Alexander (temporary)
April 29, 1861 May 11, 1861
Brig. Gen. William S. Harney
William S. Harney
William Selby Harney was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War and the Indian Wars. He was born in what is today part of Nashville, Tennessee but at the time was known as Haysborough....

 
May 11, 1861 May 31, 1861
Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon was the first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War and is noted for his actions in the state of Missouri at the beginning of the conflict....

 
May 31, 1861 July 3, 1861

Western Department
Commander From To
Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon was the first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War and is noted for his actions in the state of Missouri at the beginning of the conflict....

 
July 3, 1861 July 25, 1861
Maj. Gen.
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

 
July 3, 1861
(assumed July 25)
October 24, 1861
Maj. Gen. David Hunter
David Hunter
David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.-Early...

 
October 24, 1861
(assumed November 2)
November 9, 1861

See also

  • Army of the West (1846)
    Army of the West (1846)
    The Army of the West was the name of the United States force commanded by Stephen W. Kearny during the Mexican-American War, which played a prominent role in the conquest of New Mexico and California....

  • Department of the Pacific
    Department of the Pacific
    The Department of the Pacific was a major command of the United States Army during the 19th century.-Formation:The Department of the Pacific was first organized on October 31, 1853, at San Francisco, California, taking over from the previous Pacific Division. The department reported directly to...

  • Department of the Missouri
    Department of the Missouri
    Department of the Missouri was a division of the United States Army that functioned through the American Civil War and the Indian Wars afterwards.-Civil War:...