Faded Hoofbeats: Lt. Col. Timothy Hanley, 9th New York Cavalry

Here’s another in my profiles of “forgotten” Civil War troopers.  Timothy Hanley of the 9th New York Cavalry (known as the “Westfield Cavalry”) has long been known to me.  In my early studies of Gettysburg, his name popped up while going through the regimental history.  On July 2, the second day of the battle, Federal Cavalry Corps commander Alfred Pleasonton ordered John Buford and the two cavalry brigades off the field and to Westminster MD to rest and guard the army’s wagons.  Only (then) Capt. Timothy Hanley and a small squad of 9th New York cavalrymen, about 100 troopers or so in all, were left behind.  Assigned to Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles’ headquarters, Hanley and his troopers were kept close at hand by Sickles and either not ordered or not permitted to do much scouting on the Federal left.  Sickles later made his famous move forward toward the Peach Orchard just prior to Longstreet’s afternoon assault, and Hanley and his group remained with the 3rd Corps until late that night, when they rejoined Buford’s brigades at Westminster.  The regimental history of the 9th New York Cavalry mentions Hanley here and there, as do a few other sources, and I’ve long gotten the idea that some of his performances – particularly at Chancellorsville – showed him to have been quite a brave officer.  Unfortunately, I’d been unable to locate much biographical material on Hanley and I’ve never seen a picture of him.

I still haven’t seen a picture, but last week I happened to discover his obituary in The New York Times while looking for something else.  It was quite a revelation.  It confirmed, as I suspected, that Hanley had some type of prior military experience.  I also hadn’t realized how much a war wound affected him the rest of his life.  Here’s the text of the obituary from the April 5, 1893 issue of the Times:


Six Years It Compelled Lieut. Col. Hanley To Live On Liquid Food.

Lieut. Col. Timothy Hanley died Monday evening at the home of William Sage, 231 East One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Street, where he had been living for the last twenty years.  Col. Hanley received a bullet wound in a skirmish at Smithfield, Va., in 1864, the bullet entering his left lung and passing through his body.  He was also wounded in the arm during the same engagement.  The chest wound gave him constant trouble, and finally caused his death.  For six years he had lived entirely on liquid food.
Col. Hanley was born in Tipperary, Ireland, about fifty-eight years ago.  He began his military life in the Fourth Dragoons of the British Army, and served in the Crimean war and in India, and was in the siege of Sebastopol and Lucknow.  He received many medals from the British Government in recognition of his services.  He became a commissioned officer in the British Army, but resigned and came to this country in 1859.
Gov. Fenton commissioned him Adjutant of the Ninth New-York Cavalry, and he afterward became Lieutenant Colonel of this regiment.  He served through the war under Gen. Sheridan, and took part in forty-two engagements.  Returning from the war he served four years as Inspector in the New-York Custom House.  He then engaged in the liquor business for a number of years, but sold most of his property some years ago.  He owned a hotel in Westchester, N.Y., which he sold only a short time before his death.
Col. Hanley was unmarried, and it is not known that he has any relatives in America.  He was a member of John A. Rawlins Post, No. 80 G.A.R., and of the Limited Order of Friends, and was a Past Commander of Philip Lambrecht Post.
The funeral will take place to-day at 1 o’clock at the home of William Sage, 231 East One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Street.  The interment will be in Cypress Hills Cemetery.

The unit’s regimental history states that Hanley enrolled in the 9th New York Cavalry at age 26 on October 15, 1861 at Troy, New York.  It further states that he was mustered as Battalion Adjutant on November 3, and as captain of Company F on August 18, 1862.  Badly wounded (the chest and arm wounds mentioned in the obituary) at Smithfield, Virginia, on August 4, 1864, and promoted to lieutenant colonel as of March 1, 1865.  Hanley mustered out with the rest of the regiment on July 17, 1865 at Clouds Mills, Virginia.

Here’s a salute of the saber to Tim Hanley, a tough ol’ brogue of the Westfield Cavalry.  If anyone has any more information about him, his life or his service, I’d very much appreciate hearing it.

Published in: on August 20, 2008 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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