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James Martinus Schoonmaker, Sr.
J. M. Schoonmaker.jpg
James Martinus Schoonmaker circa 1913
Born (1842-06-30)June 30, 1842
Died October 11, 1927(1927-10-11) (aged 85)
Place of birth Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Place of death Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Place of burial Homewood Cemetery Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1865
Rank Union army col rank insignia Colonel
Commands held Pennsylvania 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor
*Third Battle of Winchester
Other work Railroad executive

James Martinus Schoonmaker, Sr. (June 30, 1842 - October 11, 1927), was a German American Colonel in the Union Army in the American Civil War and a vice-president of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864.


He was born in Peebles Twp. (subsequently Pittsburgh) on June 30, 1842 to James Schoonmaker and Mary Clark Stockton. James was a student at the Western University of Pennsylvania when the American Civil War began and enlisted in a local company of recruits which was assigned to the 1st Maryland Cavalry, rising to the rank of lieutenant. During the next thirteen months, he proved himself repeatedly in battle and in command of his troops.[1]

In August 1862, Schoonmaker was authorized by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to raise the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He later also commanded a cavalry brigade in the Cavalry Corps, under the command of Philip Sheridan. At the Third Battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, Schoonmaker led his troops in a dismounted charge against Confederate artillery in Fort Alabama (Star Fort). It was for this action he received the Medal of Honor on May 19, 1899. The Medal of Honor citation reads: "During the Battle of Star Fort, Virginia, at a critical period, gallantly led a cavalry charge against the left of the enemy's line of battle, drove the enemy out of his works, and captured many prisoners."[2]

After the war he made a fortune in coke around Pittsburgh and was on the board of directors at Mellon Bank. He married Alice Brown and Rebekah Cook and had three children: Gretchen Schoonmaker, William Schoonmaker, and James Martinus Schoonmaker, Jr.[3] He died on October 11, 1927 in Pittsburgh.[4] He is buried in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

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