Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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EDWARDS, Oliver, soldier, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, 30 January 1835. He was graduated at the Springfield high school in 1852. At the beginning of the civil war Mr. Edwards was commissioned 1st lieutenant and adjutant of the 10th Massachusetts regiment, and in January 1862, was appointed senior Aide-de-camp on the staff of General Darius N. Couch. He was commissioned major of the 37th Massachusetts on 9 August and was promoted colonel on 27 August On 19 October 1864, he was brevetted brigadier general "for gallant and distinguished services at the battle of Spottsylvania Court House, and for meritorious services at the battle of the Opequan."
He was brevetted major general, 5 May 1865, "for conspicuous gallantry in the battle of Sailor's Creek, Virginia," and was made a full brigadier general, 19 May 1865. After serving through the Peninsula campaign of 1862, and those of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, General Edwards was ordered to New York City in command of a picked provisional brigade, to quell the draft riots in July 1863, and placed in command of Fort Hamilton and Fort Lafayette. At the end of the enforcement of the draft, General Edwards returned to the Army of the Potomac, and took part in the battle of Rappahannock. During the second day of the battle of the Wilderness, when in command of the 4th brigade, 2d division, 6th army corps, he made a charge at the head of the 37th Massachusetts regiment, and succeeded in breaking through the Confederate lines.
At Spotsylvania, Virginia, 12 May 1864, he held the "bloody angle" with his own brigade from 5 a. M. till 4 P. M. and was at the head of twenty regiments from that hour until 5 A. M. when the enemy withdrew, making twenty-four hours of continuous fighting. He subsequently participated in all the battles of the overland campaign, and accompanied the 6th corps when sent to the defense of Washington against the advance of Early. He was afterward with General Sheridan in his campaign in the Shenandoah valley, and took part in the battle of Winchester, of which town he was placed in command by that officer. The latter also offered him the provost marshal generalship of the middle military division, but he declined it, preferring a direct command. In the final assault on Petersburg, General Edwards's brigade captured the guns in front of three of the enemy's brigades, and he received the surrender of the City from the hands of its mayor, 3 April 1865. At the battle of Sailor's Creek, on 6 April General Edwards, with the 3d brigade of the 1st division, captured General Custis Lee and staff, with his entire brigade, Lieutenant General Ewell and staff, and many others. He was mustered out of the army on 16 January 1866, and has been since engaged in mercantile Pursuits, both in this country and in England. He invented the Florence oilstone.
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