Brevet Brigadier-General Samuel Duncan Oliphant was born August 1, 1824, at Franklin Forges, on the Youghiogheny River, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. He was the second son of Fidelio Hughes Oliphant and Jane Creigh Duncan, his wife. He received his earlier education in private schools at Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania; the Grove Academy, at Steubenville, Ohio; entered the Freshman class in November, 1840, and graduated from Jefferson College in September, 1844.
He commenced the study of law under the direction of the law-firm of Howell & Oliphant (Judge E. P. Oliphant, his uncle), in Uniontown, Pennsylvania; spent two years at the Law-School of Harvard University, and graduated therefrom in June, 1846, and was admitted to the bar of Fayette County in September, 1847. Three years later he moved to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and entering into partnership with the late Hon. Thomas Williams, remained there two years, when he returned to and resumed the practice of law at Uniontown, Pennsylvania; was actively engaged in building the Fayette County Railroad from Uniontown to Connellsville.
Having been identified with the uniformed militia of Fayette County as captain of the Union Volunteers before he was twenty-one years of age, and subsequently as colonel of the battalion of uniformed militia of Fayette County, he felt in honor, as well as duty and inclination, bound to make good his soldierly professions of peaceful days, and volunteered at the outbreak of the war of the Rebellion. On the same day on which Sumter was fired upon he raised a company of one hundred men. On the next day he was off with it to Pittsburg, where he was elected captain. His company was organized in the Eighth Pennsylvania Reserves at Camp Wright, of which he was elected lieutenant-colonel. Marched with his regiment to the defence of Washington in July, 1861; was on his way while the battle of Bull Run was being fought, and was there mustered into the service of the United States for three years or during the war.
He participated with his regiment in the battles of the Peninsula; was physically disabled in the line of duty and honorably discharged in December, 1862.
Recovering in a measure from his disabilities, in June, 1863, he was appointed major in the Veteran Reserve Corps. Being ordered to the command of the detachment at Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, he was soon promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and colonel of the Fourteenth Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps, and to the command of the Second Sub-District of the Department of the Lehigh. Subsequently he was with General Thomas at Nashville, Tennessee, December I5-16, 1864, and participated in the defences when Jubal Early threatened Washington in the summer of 1864. He was the senior and presiding officer on two boards of examination, and was several times detailed as president of courts-martial. In August, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier-general for meritorious services during the war, and assigned to the command of the Second Brigade of the garrison of Washington, and honorably discharged from the service July 1, 1866.
The war being over, he removed from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, to Princeton, New Jersey, for educational facilities for a large family of sons, and resumed the practice of law. In September of 1870 he was appointed clerk of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of New Jersey by Hon. William McKennan, circuit judge, and still continues to exercise the duties of that office, residing at Trenton.
He was married in March, 1847, to Mary Coulter Campbell, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and of this marriage there was issue ten sons, all of whom are living. In January, 1877, he married his second wife, Beulah A., daughter of Joseph Oliphant, of Oliphant’s Mills, near Medford, New Jersey.
Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.