Jesse L. Reno

Unattributed Article from the
Jesse L. Reno Surname File

Jesse Lee Reno, born June 20, 1823, Wheeling, West Virginia son of Lewis Thomas and Rebecca (Quinby) Reno, descendant of John Renault who came from France about 1700.

The family moved to Franklin, Venango County, Pa. in 1839. Reno was appointed to West Point, entering July 1, 1842 by Congressman Arnold Plumer of Pennsylvania. Was a close friend of Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson of Clarksburg, W. Va. He stood eighth in his class when graduating in 1846 with 58 others. Among others in this class were Jackson, McClellan, Foster, Stoneman, Gibbon, generals in the Federal army and A. P. Hill, Pickett, Maury, D. R. Jones and W. D. Jones, Confederate generals.

Ordered to Mexico as subaltern of a Howitzer Battery, engaged in the military operations under General Scott at Vera Criz, Cerro Gordo, and Chapultepec. He received a brevet as captain for "gallant and meritorious conduct."

Professor of Mathematics at West Point, and named to a board to prepare a SYSTEM OF INSTRUCTION FOR HEAVY ARTILLERY. Made a first lieutenant of ordnance and assistant to an Ordnance Board in 1851. Married on Nov. 1, 1853 to Mary Blanes Cross, a daughter of Trueman and Eliza Blanes Cross. Five children. Engineering work in Minnesota; 1854 to 1857 - ordnance officer at Frankford Arsenal, Pennsylvania.

Accompanied General Albert Sydney Johnston as his chief of ordnance to Utah in 1857 which lasted until 1859. In charge of Mount Vernon Arsenal in Alabama until it was seized by Confederates and then placed in command of the Ft. Leavenworth Arsenal in Kansas.

General Burnside asked for this officer on an expedition to North Carolina in 1861 and Reno was commissioned Brigadier General Nov. 12, 1861. Was in charge of a group attacking Roanoke Island, North Carolina, on February 2, 1862 when the garrison surrendered. Promoted to Major General for his work at the Battle of Camden, North Carolina, July 18, 1862. Reno in command of the Ninth Corps took part in the second battle of Manassas August 29 to 31, 1862.

He fell at the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland on September 14, 1862, sustaining an attack lasting all day, he fell when leading an advance about 7 P. M. His last words were: "Tell my command that if not in body, I will be with them in spirit." He was 39. He was buried in Boston. His body was wrapped in the original flag which Barbara Freitchie [sic] had flown from her window. She gave it to him the previous day. (Whittier's Poem is sheer myth).

Reno had two sons listed in Who's Who in America - Conrad a lawyer of Boston 1883 to 1912, author of the History of Judicial System of New England, and Jesse W. Reno, New York, engineer, did mining work in Colorado and electric expert in railway work; employed by the Edison Company. He invented the inclined elevator or moving stairway.

Reno was the highest ranking federal officer born in West Virginia.

For a time about 1852 he was connected with the Coast Survey Service and made topographical maps. He built a road from Big Sioux to St. Paul.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History