Colonel and Brevet Major-General Galusha Pennypacker is a native of Pennsylvania, belonging to one of its oldest families, whose names are written in the annals of the State and nation. The appointment to West Point from the Sixth Congressional District having been tendered him, he would, but for the war, have probably entered the Military Academy in 1861 or 1862.
General Pennypacker entered the service in April, 1861. Declining, on account of his youth, the appointment of first lieutenant in his company, A, of the Ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, he was made a non-commissioned staff-officer of that regiment, and served with it, during its three months of service in Major-General Patterson's column, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.
He entered "for the war" as captain of Company A, Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, August 22, 1861, and was promoted major October 7 following. The Ninety-seventh Regiment joined the Tenth Corps in the Department of the South, and during the years 1862 and 1863 participated in all the various movements, engagements, and sieges in which that corps took part, on the coasts of South Carolina (Forts Wagner and Gregg, James Island and siege of Charleston), Georgia (capture of Fort Pulaski), and Florida (taking of Fernandina and Jacksonville).
General Pennypacker commanded his regiment and the post of Fernandina, Florida, in April, 1864, when the regiment was ordered with the Tenth Corps to Virginia, and became part of the Army of the James. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel April 3, 1864, and to colonel June 23 following.
In action in command of his regiment at Swift Creek, May 9; Drewry's Bluff, May 16, and Chester Station, May 18. On May 20 he led his regiment in an assault upon the enemy's lines at Green Plains, Bermuda Hundred, receiving three severe wounds, losing one hundred and seventy-five men killed and wounded out of two hundred and ninety-five taken into the charge.
Returned to duty in August, and in action at Deep Bottom on the 16th, and Wierbottom Church on the 25th of same month. In the trenches before Petersburg in August and September. Assigned to command the Second Brigade, Second Division, Tenth Corps, in September, and on the 29th led his brigade in the successful assault upon Fort Harrison, where he was again wounded, and his horse shot under him. In action October 7 at Chaffin's Farm, and on the 29th at Darbytown Road. With the first Fort Fisher Expedition under General Butler, December 1 to 31.
General Pennypacker's brigade (composed of New York and Pennsylvania regiments) formed a portion of the expeditionary corps which, under command of Major General Terry, made the successful (and perhaps most brilliant of the war) assault upon Fort Fisher, North Carolina, January 15, 1865.
For his distinguished personal gallantry in this assault, when he was most severely (and it was thought for a time mortally) wounded, and " for gallant and meritorious services during the war," Pennypacker received six brevets or promotions as follows: Brevet brigadier-general U. S. . Volunteers, January 15, 1865; brigadier-general U.S. Volunteers, February 18, 1865; brevet major-general U.S. Volunteers, March 13, 1865; colonel Thirty-fourth (designation changed to Sixteenth) Infantry U.S.A., July 28, 1866; brevet brigadier-general U.S.A., March 2, 1867, and brevet major-general U.S.A., March 2, 1867.
The Congressional medal of honor was awarded General Pennypacker for "bravery at the battle of Fort Fisher." He was one of the youngest (if not the youngest) general officers of the war, and was the youngest man in the history of the regular army to be commissioned a colonel and brevet major-general. His commanding general emphasized to the writer of this sketch the declaration that Pennypacker and not himself was the real hero of Fort Fisher, and that his "great gallantry was only equaled by his modesty."
Since the war (with the exception of two years on leave in Europe), General Pennypacker has served in the Southern, Southwestern, and Western States, performing the duties incidental to a regimental and post commander. He was temporarily in command of the District of Mississippi in 1867, the Fourth Military District in 1868, the Department of Mississippi in 1870, the United States troops in New Orleans in 1874, and the Department of the South in 1876.
Placed on the retired list of the army in 1883, on account of wounds, he has since resided in Philadelphia.