by Henry Robert Burke
Copyright 1998. Henry Robert Burke
African-Americans were ineligible to become commissioned officers in the Union Forces. "White" Officers (Lieutenant through General) commanded Union Army "Colored" Regiments.
Last Name: Eaton
First Name: John
Unit: 63rd U. S. Col'd Infantry Regiment.
Rank In: Colonel (Commanding Officer)
Rank Out: Brigadier-General
NARA Film#: M589 roll 26
Gen. John Eaton was born in Sutton N.H., December 5, 1829. He graduated at Dartmouth College in 1854, and for two years was the principal of a school in Cleveland, Ohio and superintendent of schools in Toledo, Ohio (1856-9). He studied for the ministry, and was ordained by he presbytery of Maumee, Ohio in September, 1861. He entered the army as chaplain of the 27th O.V.I.. In October,1863, he was appointed colonel of the 63rd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, and received his brevet of brigadier-general in March., 1865.
After the war he settled in Tennessee, became editor of the Memphis Post, and was elected State superintendent of public schools in 1886. He was appointed U.S. commissioner of education in 1870, and served in that capacity until August, 1886, when he became president of Marietta College, at Marietta, Ohio.
The following is from Appleton's Cyclopedia:
"The Bureau of Education at the time of his appointment had but two clerks, not over a hundred volumes belonging to it, and no museum of educational illustrations and appliances; but when he resigned there were thirty-eight assistants, and a library including 18,000 volumes and 47,000 pamphlets. Gen. Eaton represented the Department of the Interior at the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. He was chief of the department of education for the New Orleans Exposition, and organized that vast exhibition; was president of the International Congress of Education held in Havre, France. He received his Ph.D degree from Rutgers in 1872, and his LL.D. from Dartmouth in 1876. Gen. Eaton was a member of many learned associations, and he published numerous addresses and reports on education and the public affairs with which he has been connected.
HISTORY of 63rd REGIMENT INFANTRY USCT:
Organized March 11, 1864, from 9th Louisiana Infantry (African Descent).
Attached to Post of Natchez, Miss., District of Vicksburg, Miss., to February, 1865. Sub-District of Vidalia, District of Natchez, Miss., Dept. of Mississippi, to January, 1866.
SERVICE.-Post and garrison duty at Natchez, Miss., till February, 1865. Skirmish at Waterproof, La., April 20, 1864. Ashwood, Miss., June 25. Camp Marengo September 4. Bullitt's Bayou September 14 (Cos. "B" and "G"). Post and garrison at Vidalia and Bullitt's Bayou till January, 1866. (A Detachment at Helena, Ark., District of Eastern Arkansas, Dept. of Arkansas, to February, 1865. Companies. "B" and "K" at Memphis, Tenn.). February, 1865. Mustered out January 9, 1866.
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