DANIEL ADAMS BUTTERFIELD
Who was the general whose name is associated with Taps? Daniel Adams Butterfield was born in Utica, New York, on October 31, 1831. He was the third son (of nine children) born to John Butterfield and Malinda Baker Butterfield. John Butterfield (1801-1869) was a prominent Utica businessman who pioneered the transportation business and was instrumental in starting America’s first overland express service. A stage coach driver as a young man, Butterfield had risen to possess his own business and was hired to transport freight in Panama. As president of the Overland Stage Company, he won a contract from the U.S. Government in 1858 to carry mail between St. Louis and San Francisco in three weeks. This was a remarkable feat in the era before the transcontinental railroads. His company of Butterfield, Wasson and Company was one of the first to make profits by the rapid movement of merchandise. This company would become the American Express Company.
A director in the Utica City National Bank, John was also instrumental in building a telegraph line between Buffalo and New York.
Young Daniel Butterfield was enrolled at private schools and the Utica Academy. He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1849 (at the unusually early age of eighteen) and took up the study of law. At Union College he had a fair record and was known as a leader and somewhat of a prankster. After beginning his preliminary study of law, Butterfield found himself too young to enter the bar, so he decided to embark on an extended trip to the west. He traveled to the Territory of Minnesota and journeyed through the forests with an Indian guide. He boarded a steamer to New Orleans, where he had the opportunity to study the influence of slavery on the population and the political climate of the South. He stated later that it was there that his feelings toward slavery were born. When he returned to Utica, he joined the Utica Citizens’ Corps, a local militia organization. Working for his father, he was entrusted with preparing a time table and schedule for the Overland Stage line running between Memphis, St. Louis, and San Francisco.
Butterfield moved to New York shortly afterward and became the eastern superintendent of the American Express Company. He joined the Twelfth Regiment of the New York State Militia and despite his lack of military experience, rose quickly to the rank of colonel. When the Civil War began, the Twelfth Regiment mustered in New York on April 19, 1861 and sailed for Washington, D.C. After arriving, the unit was assigned guard and garrison duty in the capital. On May 24, Butterfield’s Regiment was at the head of the Union column that advanced into Alexandria, Virginia. The Twelfth served in the Shenandoah Valley during the Bull Run campaign. While serving as a colonel of the Twelfth, Butterfield received word from American Express on August 15, 1861, that he would continue drawing his full salary as superintendent of the company for the duration of the war.
Butterfield was soon promoted to brigadier general and given command of the Third Brigade of the Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, which included the Eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers. In May 1862, Butterfield led his men at the Battle of Hanover Court House, after which he was presented with a set of gold spurs from admiring officers. The spurs are engraved “To General Daniel Butterfield. Presented by Field Officers of the Third Light Brigade, Porters [sic] Division, Army of the Potomac. For our admiration of your brilliant generalship on the field of Hanover Court House May 27, 1862.” The spurs were presented to him by Colonel Strong Vincent of the Eighty-third Pennsylvania.
In the spring of 1862, Butterfield prepared and printed a manual on camp and outpost duty for infantry. Published by Harper Brothers, New York, this exhaustive book includes standing orders, extracts from the revised regulations for the Army, rules for health, maxims for soldiers, and duties of officers. You can download the manual below.