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High Command

March 2023
1min read


The Cornelius triplets were born on Christmas Eve, 1868. The war had ended three years earlier, but for their father, Isaac, a Pennsylvania volunteer in the Union Army who had been wounded near Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864, the memories had clearly persisted. He named his three fine sons for Civil War generals. From left to right the uniformed sevenyear-olds are William Tecumseh Sherman Cornelius, Ulysses Simpson Grant Cornelius, and John White Geary Cornelius. Their photo was sent to us by John H. Bennett, who discovered it while researching his wife’s family.

The boys might have reveled in their instantly recognizable names or been embarrassed by them; we don’t know. Nor could we recall who Geary was, until a look at the history books revealed him to be a Civil War commander wounded near Harpers Ferry, captured at Leesburg, wounded again at Cedar Mountain, on hand for Gettysburg and for the relief of Chattanooga, and in 1866 elected governor of Pennsylvania, home to the Cornelius family. In 1871 the triplets acquired a baby sister, named Mary Sophianna and known as Annie. Why not Clara Barton Cornelius?

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