John Aaron Rawlins

John Aaron Rawlins
  • Born February 13, 1831, in Jo Daviess County, IL, the son of Scotch-Irish immigrants
  • In 1849, his father migrated to California during the Gold Rush and stayed there for three years. Rawlins had to take care of his mother, his sister, and six brothers. Rawlins blamed his father’s lack of attention to his family on strong drink, so he abstained from alcohol. Likely tried to influence his close friend, Grant, to do likewise
  • Attended local schools in the area and a year-and-a-half at Rock River Seminary at Mt. Morris, Illinois. Then studied law under Isaac P. Stevens of Galena, Illinois; admitted to the bar in 1854
  • Married Emily Smith in 1856; they had three children. Emily died of tuberculosis in 1861, shortly after Rawlins began his military service
  • Served as Galena City Attorney (1857), and Presidential Elector for Stephen Douglas (1860)
  • Commissioned Captain and Assistant Adjutant General on staff of U.S. Grant, August 1861
  • Promoted Major, May 1862; Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, November 1862
  • On December 23, 1863 Rawlins married Mary Emma Hurlburt; they had three children
  • Promoted Brigadier General and Chief of Staff (USA), March 1865
  • Received brevet ranks of Major General (USV), February 1865; and Major General (USA), April 1865, for war service
  • Accompanied Dodge Expedition over proposed Union Pacific RR route, 1867; gave name to Rawlins, Wyoming
  • Appointed U.S. Secretary of War, March 1869
  • Died in Washington, September 6, 1869; buried in Arlington National Cemetery

A statue, General John A. Rawlins was erected in Washington, D.C. in 1874. The town of Rawlins, county seat of Carbon County, Wyoming, is named for him, as well as Rawlins County, Kansas.