September 14, 1862: Union General Jesse Reno Killed at South Mountain

General Jesse L. Reno

On September 14, 1862, General Jesse Lee Reno was killed during the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland. The Wheeling native was the highest-ranking Union general from present-day West Virginia to be killed during the Civil War.

Reno graduated in the same West Point class that included George McClellan and another cadet from Western Virginia: Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. During the Mexican War, Reno served in a howitzer battery and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultapec.

Three months before the start of the Civil War, he was commanding a federal arsenal in Alabama, when it was seized by pro-Confederate state forces. In late 1861, he was called east to command a brigade, which he led during Ambrose Burnside’s expedition through coastal North Carolina. Promoted to brevet major general, Reno’s division took part in the Union debacle at Second Manassas and temporarily commanded Burnside’s 9th Corps.

Jesse Lee Reno was mortally wounded during the struggle for South Mountain—trying to repel Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Maryland. Three days later, members of the 9th Corps charged into battle at Antietam with the cry of “Remember Reno.”