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Chittenden, Hiram Martin (25 October 1858–09 October 1917), historian and civil engineer, was born in Cattaraugas County, New York, the son of William Chittenden and Mary Wheeler, farmers. Chittenden was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy, but he spent two terms at Cornell University in 1879–1880 to broaden his education before entering West Point in the spring of 1880. He graduated from the military academy in 1884, ranked third in a class of thirty-seven cadets, a position that earned him an assignment in the Corps of Engineers. After marrying Nettie Parker later that year (a union that produced three children), Chittenden spent the next three years in postgraduate study at the Engineer School of Application in New York City. Then, after a year of mapping and surveying for the Department of the Platte, he was transferred to river and harbor work on the Missouri and Ohio rivers, where he remained until 1896....

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Dodge, Theodore Ayrault (28 May 1842–25 October 1909), soldier, businessman, and military historian, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Shattswell Dodge, a wealthy writer and a U.S. War Department official, and Emily Pomeroy. His great-grandfather fought at Bunker Hill. When Theodore was eight years old, his father was appointed American commissioner to the London Exhibition, and the family moved to Europe. Theodore was sent to school at the College des Josephites in Tirelmont, Belgium, and was tutored in Berlin. There he lived with the family of retired Prussian general Gebhardt von Froerich, attended the Friedrich Werderschen Gymnasium, and absorbed the Prussian work ethos, including dedication to the profession of arms and commitment to the importance of ideas in war. He graduated from the University of London in 1861....

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Dumont de Montigny, Jean-François-Benjamin (31 July 1696–1760), officer in the French colonial military in Quebec and Louisiana, historian, and memoirist, was born in Paris, France, to Jacques-François Dumont and Françoise Delamare. His father was a magistrate in the parlement of Paris, the most important of the French high courts of appeal. He was the youngest of six sons and something of a black sheep compared with his brothers, who achieved prominence as lawyers and priests....

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Frost, Holloway Halstead (11 April 1889–26 January 1935), naval officer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Halstead H. Frost, a lawyer, and Mary Louise Downing. In 1910 he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was assigned to the battleship ...

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Garden, Alexander (04 December 1757–24 February 1829), soldier and scholar, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Alexander Garden, a famous naturalist, and Elizabeth Peronneau. Growing up in the long shadow of his father, Garden’s life was carefully monitored, and he received his early education at home. In 1771 he was enrolled at Westminster School in England and after four years there matriculated at the University of Glasgow. He received an M.A. in 1779 and then began the study of law at Lincoln’s Inn. Garden did not long pursue his legal education for in 1780, despite the vehement protests of his Loyalist father, who had fled to London as a refugee, he returned to America to assist his fellow countrymen in their struggle against Britain. For this act of filial defiance he was never forgiven by his father, who died in 1791....

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Knox, Dudley Wright (21 June 1877–11 June 1960), naval officer and historian, was born in Fort Walla Walla, Washington Territory, the son of Thomas Taylor Knox, a U.S. Army colonel, and Cornelia Manigault Grayson. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1896, Knox spent the next two years at sea assigned to the battleship ...

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Alfred Thayer Mahan Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-3124).

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Mahan, Alfred Thayer (27 September 1840–01 December 1914), naval officer and author, was born in West Point, New York, the son of Dennis Hart Mahan, a professor of military engineering and dean of faculty at the U.S. Military Academy, and Mary Helena Okill. Raised in a household run on two guiding principles, strict military obedience and a stern literalist and fundamentalist form of Episcopalianism that emphasized constant prayer, Mahan did not have a happy childhood. In his autobiography, ...

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Marshall, S. L. A. (18 July 1900–17 December 1977), soldier, reporter, and historian, was born Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall in Catskill, New York, the son of Caleb Carey Marshall, a bricklayer, and Alice Medora Beeman. The family moved in 1912 to Niles, California, and Samuel, at age twelve, was involved in Hollywood productions as a child extra. He worked in Western Essanay Studio productions, including the ...

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Williams, George Washington (16 October 1849–02 August 1891), soldier, clergyman, legislator, and historian, was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Williams, a free black laborer, and Ellen Rouse. His father became a boatman and, eventually, a minister and barber, and the younger Williams drifted with his family from town to town in western Pennsylvania until the beginning of the Civil War. With no formal education, he lied about his age, adopted the name of an uncle, and enlisted in the United States Colored Troops in 1864. He served in operations against Petersburg and Richmond, sustaining multiple wounds during several battles. After the war’s end, Williams was stationed in Texas, but crossed the border to fight with the Mexican republican forces that overthrew the emperor Maximilian. He returned to the U.S. Army in 1867, serving with the Tenth Cavalry, an all-black unit, at Fort Arbuckle, Indian Territory. Williams was discharged for disability the following year after being shot through the left lung under circumstances that were never fully explained....