Edward Washburn Whitaker
Edward Washburn Whitaker was born on June 15, 1841, in Killingly, Connecticut. He was one of sixteen children, with eight brothers and seven sisters. Whitaker attended the public schools in Ashford, Connecticut, and the Academy in Olneyville, in what is now Providence, Rhode Island.
Whitaker was one of four brothers who enlisted in Union regiments in the Civil War. He fought in eighty-two engagements during the course of the war. He was slightly wounded by shrapnel at Falling Waters, Maryland. While running at a gallop at Five Forks, Virginia, his horse fell on him, and caused Whitaker to have a lifelong groin and back injury.
As a captain in Company E, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry, he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Reams Station, Virginia, on June 29, 1864. His citation reads, “While acting as an aide voluntarily carried dispatches from the commanding general to Gen. Meade, forcing his way with a single troop of Cavalry, through an Infantry division of the enemy in the most distinguished manner, though he lost half his escort.” The Medal was presented on April 2, 1898.
At the age of twenty-three, Whitaker was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers for war service and was the youngest general in the Civil War. Shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stricken with malaria and was disabled most of his life by a heart condition brought on by the disease. After the war, Edward Whitaker was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Capitol Building and in 1869, President Grant appointed him the Postmaster of Hartford, Connecticut. In the years following these appointments, he was also an insurance agent and a patent attorney while living in Washington, D.C.
Edward W. Whitaker’s SAR National number is 13552. He was a member of the District of Columbia SAR and his D.C. Society number is 702. His SAR patriot ancestor is Lieutenant Richard Whitaker of Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
At the age of eighty-one, Edward W. Whitaker died on July 30, 1922, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.