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Cortina, Juan Nepomuceno (16 May 1824–30 October 1892), revolutionary, politician, Mexican governor, and rancher, was born in Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, the son of Trinidad Cortina, the town mayor and an important landowner, and María Estéfana Goseascochea. Little is known of Juan Cortina’s early life and education. Upon the death of his father in the early 1840s, his family moved to the Espíritu Santo grant, part of the area between the Nueces and Río Grande claimed by both Mexico and Texas and the future site of the city of Brownsville, Texas. This land belonged to Cortina’s mother. Cortina associated with ...

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Emmons, Delos C. (17 January 1889–04 October 1965), United States Army general, airman, and military governor of Hawaii in the early years of America's involvement in World War II, was born Delos Carleton Emmons in the Ohio River town of Huntington, West Virginia, the son of Carleton Delos Emmons, a prosperous hardware business owner, and Minnie Gibson, the daughter of one of Huntington's first newspaper editors. Emmons enjoyed the life of an active boy growing up in a small river town, with the popular sport of baseball as his chief activity and love outside of school. By the time Emmons entered his senior year of high school in 1904, his athletic and leadership skills earned him the captaincy of both the baseball and football teams. Coveting an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Emmons spent the year following graduation at the Werntz Preparatory School in Annapolis, Maryland, to prepare for the academy's entrance examinations. His hard work proved successful, earning Emmons a spot in the Class of 1905 on June 15, 1905. Four years later, on June 11, 1909, he graduated in the middle of his class as a second lieutenant of infantry, with fellow graduates and future generals George S. Patton and Jacob L. Devers....

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Mason, Richard Barnes (16 January 1797–27 July 1850), army officer and military governor of California, was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, the son of George Mason (1753–1796) and Elizabeth Mary Ann Barnes Hooe, planters. Although his family was prominent—his grandfather, George Mason (1725–1792), had been a member of the Constitutional Convention—young Mason’s father died before he was born, and an elder brother inherited the family estate. In 1817 Mason received a commission as second lieutenant of infantry in the U.S. Army and embarked on a lifelong military career. Promoted to captain in 1819, he served at garrisons in the Old Northwest and earned a reputation as a stern disciplinarian. At Fort Howard in 1821 he was nearly killed when a soldier, whom he had struck for making an impertinent remark, shot him in the chest with a load of pigeon shot....

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Riley, Bennet (27 November 1787–09 June 1853), army officer and military governor of California, was born probably in St. Marys County, Maryland. Although little is known of his parentage, his birthplace is also ascribed to Alexandria, Virginia. Riley was commissioned ensign in the elite Regiment of Riflemen on 19 January 1813 and assigned to the company of Captain Benjamin Forsyth. Forsyth was the most notorious partisan officer of the War of 1812, and Riley distinguished himself in several engagements. He rose to third lieutenant on 12 March 1813, became a second lieutenant on 15 April 1814, and was present at the 28 June skirmish at Odelltown, Lower Canada, in which Forsyth was killed. Riley subsequently commanded a detachment of riflemen who, on August 10, avenged their fallen commander by ambushing and fatally wounding Captain Joseph St. Valier Mallioux, a noted Canadian officer. One month later he fought in the 11 September 1814 defense of Plattsburgh, New York, and won commendation from General ...

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Stanly, Edward (10 January 1810–12 July 1872), U.S. congressman and military governor, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of John Stanly, a prominent Federalist politician, and Elizabeth Franks. He attended the University of North Carolina in 1826 but left after his father suffered a debilitating stroke. In 1827 he enrolled in ...

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Washington, John Macrae ( October 1797–24 December 1853), army officer and military governor of New Mexico, was born in Stafford County, Virginia, the son of Baily Washington, a planter, and Euphan Wallace. Influenced by financial problems caused by his father’s death, young Washington entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1814, and he graduated in 1817. Commissioned a third lieutenant in the Corps of Artillery, he spent the next few years in garrison duty at Charleston, South Carolina, and in Florida. As the result of the reduction and reorganization of the army in 1821, he was arranged to the Fourth Artillery Regiment, the unit in which he would serve for most of his career. During 1824–1826 he was stationed at the Artillery School of Practice at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and he was on staff duty in the ordnance service from 1827 to 1833. Promoted to captain in 1832, Washington participated in the government’s controversial policy of American Indian removal. He saw action in the brief Creek campaign of 1836 and for the next three years engaged in the army’s frustrating guerrilla war against the elusive Seminoles in Florida. During the war scare with Great Britain of 1839–1842, caused by the filibustering “Patriots” and the Maine–New Brunswick boundary controversy, his company was stationed on the Canadian border, first at Detroit and later Buffalo, New York. As a young officer, he married Fanny Macrae, with whom he had three children....

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Wood, Leonard (09 October 1860–07 August 1927), army officer and colonial administrator, was born in Winchester, New Hampshire, the son of Charles J. Wood, a physician, and Caroline Hagar. Following in his father’s profession, Wood entered Harvard Medical School in 1880, finished his training there in 1883, receiving an M.D. in 1884, and assumed a position as intern at Boston City Hospital. Wood’s persistent violation of a hospital rule prohibiting intern surgery led to his dismissal, revealing an early attitude toward authority and regulations that would later plague his military career....