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Beauregard, Pierre Gustave Toutant (28 May 1818–20 February 1893), soldier, was born at “Contreras,” his family’s plantation in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, the son of Jacques Toutant-Beauregard, a planter, and Helene Judith de Reggio. At age eight he was sent to a private school in New Orleans for three years, and for four years after that he attended the French School, a private institution in New York City. Beauregard entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1834 and graduated second in the class of 1838. Commissioned a second lieutenant of engineers, he worked on various fortifications in Florida and in his native state during the years prior to the Mexican War. In 1841 Beauregard married Marie Laure Villere; they had two sons. Laure died in March 1850, giving birth to a daughter....

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Carson, Kit (24 December 1809–23 May 1868), mountain man, army officer, and Indian agent, was born Christopher Houston Carson in Madison County, Kentucky, the son of Lindsey Carson, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Rebecca Robinson. In 1811 Lindsey Carson moved his family to Howard County, Missouri, to find “elbow room.” He died in 1818, hit by a falling limb while clearing timber from his land. Christopher enjoyed no schooling and never learned to read or write, other than signing his name to documents. In 1825 his mother and stepfather apprenticed him to David Workman, a Franklin, Missouri, saddler whom Kit described as a kind and good man. Nevertheless, he ran away because he found saddlemaking tedious and distasteful work and yearned to travel. Following in the footsteps of a brother and a half-brother who were in the Santa Fe trade, Carson joined a caravan as a “cavvy boy” (an assistant to the wrangler in charge of the horse and mule herd). Though not unsympathetic, Workman was obliged by law to advertise for his runaway. But he misleadingly suggested to readers of the ...

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Craik, James (1730–06 February 1814), physician and military surgeon, was born on his father’s estate near Dumfries, Scotland, the son of Robert Craik, a member of the British Parliament; the name of his mother is unknown. Little information about his early life is available. Although his parents were apparently not married, he was acknowledged by his father, who assumed responsibility for his education. After studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, he joined the British army as a surgeon. Shortly after being sent to the West Indies, he resigned his position and sailed for Virginia in 1751. After a short period in the Norfolk area, he moved to Winchester, Virginia....

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Crittenden, Thomas Leonidas (15 May 1819–23 October 1893), lawyer and soldier, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of John J. Crittenden, a lawyer and statesman, and Sarah “Sally” Lee. After unsuccessful business ventures in New Orleans and with a brother-in-law in Louisville, he studied law and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1840. Appointed a commonwealth’s attorney in 1843, he occasionally opposed his famous father in courtroom appearances. Crittenden married his stepsister Kittie Todd, probably in 1840. Their only son, Lieutenant John J. Crittenden, was killed with ...

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Doniphan, Alexander William (09 July 1808–08 August 1887), soldier and lawyer, was born near Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, the son of Joseph Doniphan and Anne Smith, farmers. His father died when Doniphan was not quite five years old. He attended a private school at Augusta, Kentucky, graduating from Augusta College at the age of nineteen. After two years of studying law in the office of Martin Marshall, Doniphan was admitted to the bar in Kentucky and Ohio. He moved to Missouri in 1830, settling initially at Lexington. Three years later, he reestablished his law practice at Liberty in Clay County, where he shared a law office with ...

Article

Herman Hattaway and Eric B. Fair

Hitchcock, Ethan Allen (18 May 1798–05 August 1870), soldier and author, was born in Vergennes, Vermont, the son of Samuel Hitchcock, a U.S. Circuit Court judge, and Lucy Caroline Allen, the daughter of Ethan Allen. Though raised in affluence, Ethan Hitchcock was compelled to make a career decision at the age of sixteen because of the death of his father. With family connections to the army, Hitchcock sought appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He entered the academy on 11 October 1814 and graduated as a third lieutenant of artillery on 17 July 1817. He was in garrison duty for the next seven years....

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Howard, Oliver Otis (08 November 1830–26 October 1909), soldier, government official, and educator, was born in Leeds, Maine, the son of Rowland Bailey Howard and Eliza Otis, farmers. As a boy Howard worked in the company of a young black farmhand, an experience to which he later attributed his broadmindedness in racial matters. Howard graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1854, ranked fourth in his class. In 1855 Howard married Elizabeth Ann Waite; the couple had seven children. He first served at the federal arsenals in New York and Maine and then as an ordnance officer in Florida. In 1857 Howard returned to West Point to teach mathematics. The same year he experienced the religious conversion that would earn him such sobriquets as “the Christian Soldier.” His distaste for alcohol and profanity hardly endeared him to many of his fellows. ...

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Jackson, Andrew (15 March 1767–08 June 1845), soldier and seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaw Settlement, South Carolina, the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson, farmers. Like many other Scotch-Irish at the time, Andrew and Elizabeth Jackson migrated to this country from the port of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland in 1765, landing most probably in Philadelphia and then journeying southward to join relatives living in the Waxhaw Settlement along the northwestern boundary separating North and South Carolina. They settled with their two sons, Hugh and Robert, on a stretch of land on the south side of Twelve Mile Creek, a branch of the Catawba River, and for two years tried to scratch a living from this acid soil. Then, early in March 1767, Andrew died suddenly. Approximately two weeks later, on 15 March, Elizabeth gave birth to her third son and named him after her deceased husband. Later a dispute arose over the exact location of the birthplace of the future president—whether he was born in North or South Carolina—but Jackson himself always believed and repeatedly stated that he was born in South Carolina....

Article

Russell F. Weigley

Lee, Robert E. (19 January 1807–12 October 1870), soldier, was born Robert Edward Lee on the Stratford estate in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the son of Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, a soldier and political leader, and Ann Hill Carter. The promise of affluence implied by his birth at his father’s ancestral estate was not fulfilled in Lee’s childhood. Neither family, nor military distinction in the Revolution, nor political success as governor of Virginia (1792–1795) could save Major General Henry Lee from the penalties of financial recklessness, aggravated by broken health. As a result, Robert’s childhood was shadowed by the frequent absence of his father, seeking to escape his creditors and to promote his physical rehabilitation, while his mother supported herself and her five children on the income from her Carter legacy, which was adequate but by no means lavish. The family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1810. For an unknown period, Robert attended a school at Eastern View in Fauquier County that was run by the Carters for their children. By 1820 he was a student at Alexandria Academy, where he finished his secondary school education no later than 1823....

Article

Lewis, Meriwether (18 August 1774–11 October 1809), explorer and soldier, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of William Lewis, a planter, and Lucy Meriwether. The family was prominent in the area, and moved in circles that included Thomas Jefferson. William Lewis died when his son was five. His mother remarried, and Lewis spent part of his childhood in Georgia. He returned to Virginia in his early teens and attended a number of local schools. His formal education ended at the age of eighteen. From that time on, he was in charge of “Locust Hill,” the family plantation in Albemarle County....