A Civil War Biography

Robert Alexander Cameron

Cameron was born 22 February 1828 in Brooklyn, New York. His family relocated to Valparaiso, Indiana in 1840. He graduated from the Indiana Medical College in 1849 and studied at Rush Medical College in Chicago but gave up his medical studies.

He purchased and became editor of the Valparaiso Republican, a local newspaper, in 1857. He served as an Abraham Lincoln delegate at the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago. Cameron also served in the Indiana House of Representatives.

When the Civil War started he enlisted in the 9th Indiana, a three month regiment, and was named captain on 23 April 1861. The 9th served in western Virginia under George B. McClellan. When the 9th regiment's enlistment expired Cameron convinced almost the entire regiment to re-enlist for the duration of the war. Thus was formed the 19th Indiana of which Cameron became lieutenant colonel on 29 July 1861.

The 19th's colonel, Solomon Meredith, was as strong willed as Cameron and the two could not get along. Cameron appealed to Governor Oliver P. Morton and was transferred to the 34th Indiana as a lieutenant colonel on 3 November 1861. Cameron fought at New Madrid, Island #10, and during the capture of Memphis. He became the 34th's colonel on 15 June 1862 and was in the trenches during the siege of Vicksburg. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 11 August 1863 and was in command of the 1st brigade, 3rd division, XIII Corps at the start of the Red River campaign.

He would rise to division command and for a time even command the corps before the campaign was over. He was then transferred to the Department of the Gulf on 9 |June 1864 and commanded the District of LaFourche headquartered at Thibodaux, Louisiana until the end of the war. He was brevetted major general of volunteers on 13 March 1865 and resigned his commission on 22 June 1865.

Cameron headed west and was active in establishing farm colonies in Colorado. In 1870 he helped found, with the support of Horace Greeley, Union Colony, a temperance, agricultural community. Nathan Meeker, a staff writer on Greeley's New York Tribune is most often credited with founding the colony which today is known as GREELEY. In 1871 Cameron was elected president of the colony's board of trustees. He was lured away by William J. Palmer, the colonel of the 15th Pennsylvania cavalry during the war, a brevet brigadier general, holder of the Medal of Honor, and the man most often credited with founding Fountain Colony, to become superintendent of the new colony. Fountain Colony today is known as COLORADO SPRINGS . Cameron next took part in an attempt to establish Fort Collins, Colorado. He then moved to San Francisco and stayed a few years before returning to Colorado to serve as a postal clerk in Denver and warden of the state penitentiary at Canon City. Cameron died 15 March 1894 on his farm near Canon City.

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