Jesse Lee Reno (April 20, 1823 – September 14,
1862) was a career United States Army officer who served in the
Mexican–American War, in the Utah War, on the western frontier, and as a Union
General during the American Civil War. Known as a "soldier's soldier"
who fought alongside his men, he was killed while commanding a corps at Fox's
Gap during the Battle of South Mountain. Reno, Nevada; Reno County, Kansas; El
Reno, Oklahoma; Reno, Pennsylvania; Fort Reno (Oklahoma); and Fort Reno Park in
Washington, D.C. were named after him.
His ancestors changed the spelling of their surname
"Renault" to the more Anglicized "Reno" when they arrived
in the United States from France in 1700, landing west of the present city of
Richmond, Virginia on the James River. The family roots are French and were
among the first Huguenots on the North American soil.
Reno had a reputation as a "soldier's soldier" and
often was right beside his troops without a sword or any sign of rank. On
September 12, 1862, Reno's IX Corps spent the day in Frederick, Maryland, as
the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George McClellan advanced westward in
pursuit of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Elements of Lee's army defended three low-lying "gaps" of South
Mountain—Crampton's, Turner's, and Fox's—while concentrating at Sharpsburg,
Maryland, to the west, the location of the subsequent Battle of Antietam
(September 17, 1862). In the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, Reno
stopped directly in front of his troops as he reconnoitered the enemy's forces
advancing up the road at Fox's Gap. He was shot in the chest by a rookie Union
Soldier from the 35th Massachusetts who mistook him for Rebel Cavalry at dusk.
He was brought by stretcher to Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis's
command post and said in a clear voice, "Hallo, Sam, I'm dead!"
Sturgis, a long-time acquaintance and fellow member of the West Point Class of
1846, thought that he sounded so natural that he must be joking and told Reno
that he hoped it was not as bad as all that. Reno repeated, "Yes, yes, I'm
dead—good-bye!", dying a few minutes later.
In his official report,
Confederate general D. H. Hill sarcastically remarked, "The Yankees on
their side lost General Reno, a renegade Virginian, who was killed by a happy
shot from the Twenty-third North Carolina."
'DEATH VALLEY DAYS'
From the IMDb:
Reno, Nevada's naming begins on the battlefields of Mexico where officer Reno serves with Steve and Red. While they head west Reno returns to West Point. He becomes a Civil War hero and his friends intend to honor him.
The late great William Schallert, the hardest-working actor in television, portrayed General Reno.