John T. Greble

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John Trout Greble (1834-1861) - Born 19 Jan 1834 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A career U.S. Army artillery officer who served in the Third Seminole War and the U.S. Civil War where he became the first United States Military Academy graduate killed in that war. He died 10 Jun 1861, at the Battle of Big Bethel, Virginia.

John Trout Greble

He entered the United States Military Academy on 1 Jul 1850 and graduated in the Class of 1854 ranking 21st out of 46.

He served in Florida during the Third Seminole War in 1854-1855 with the 2nd U.S. Artillery at Fort Brooke and Fort Myers. Following his Florida service he was posted to the United States Military Academy, as an assistant professor of geography and ethics, 1856-1860. He married Sarah B. French, daughter of his supervising professor at the academy in 1858 and they had two children, Edwin and Clara. In 1860 he was posted to Fort Monroe with the 2nd U.S. Artillery where he and his family occupied one of the two-casement officers quarters. As the war became inevitable he sent his family back to live with his parents in Pennsylvania.

As the war began, he remained loyal to the Union and continued to served with the 2nd U.S. Artillery as a 1st Lieutenant. He was killed in one of the first actions of the war at the Battle of Big Bethel, while covering the retreat of Union forces with his artillery. He was posthumously breveted as a Captain, a Major and as a Lieutenant Colonel for conspicuous gallantry and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Big Bethel, Virginia. He was the first United States Military Academy graduate killed in that war and possibly the first regular Union Officer killed.

Original Grave of John T. Greble

His body was borne back to Fort Monroe on the gun he was commanding and then accompanied back to Pennsylvania by his father and officers from his unit. His young widow, his two children and the family viewed the body at their home. On Friday, 14 Jun 1861, his body was placed in the center of Independence Hall as some 10,000 people came to pay their public respects. He was first interred in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later moved to West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Two forts and one Endicott Period gun battery were named for John T. Greble:

Father: Edwin Greble, born 1806, died 1886
Mother: Susan Virginia Major, born 1818, died 1875
Marriage: Sarah B. French, born 1838, died 1880, married 4 Aug 1858

  • Edwin St. John Greble (1859-1931)
  • Clara F. Greble (1860-?)


Personal Description:

  • Height: 5' 7"
  • Weight: 145
  • Build: Compactly built
  • Hair Color: Very dark brown
  • Eye Color: Dark blue


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