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Brevet Major General Gen Alexander Hays

Brevet Major General Gen Alexander Hays

Army of the Potomac

Brevet MG Alexander Hays is the 2nd Great Grandfather of James Munsey Hays


Alexander Hays was born 8 July 1819 at Franklin, Venango County Pennsylvania. He was the 4th son and 5th child of General Samuel (who was born in Donegal, Ireland) and Agnes Broadfoot Hays. He was a West Point graduate class of 1844, a year behind and a friend of Ulysses Grant.  He received the rank of 2nd Lt and went to fight in the Mexican War.  He married Annie Adams McFadden on 19 February 1846, and together, they had 9 children.  He resigned his commission in 1854, returned to Pennsylvania, and worked as a Civil Engineer.

Alexander Hays began his Civil War service as Colonel and commander of the 63rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas. During his recovery time he was promoted to Brigadier General, US Volunteers.

As a commander of the 2nd Brigade in Birney’s 3rd Division of Hancock’s 2nd Corps he was stationed on Cemetery Ridge at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. From there he directed the Union forces that repulsed the Confederate charges of May 2nd and Pickett’s charge May 3rd.  Following the fighting he was seen riding up and down the Union lines with fists full of captured Confederate battle flags.

On the morning of 5 May 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, his 2nd Brigade was stationed along the Brock Road near the intersection with the Orange Plank Road. He was killed by a Confederate Bullet. Gen Grant was reported to have been emotionally distraught over the news of the death of his friend.

General Hays was posthumously brevetted Major General, US Volunteers. Today a statue of General Hays stands on Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg and a monument marks the spot where he was killed along Brock Road in the Wilderness. His remains are buried at Allegheny Cemetery, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Brevet Major General Gen Alexander Hays
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