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Abbot, Henry Larcom (13 August 1831–01 October 1927), Union soldier and engineer, was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Hale Abbot and Fanny Ellingwood. Abbot’s father, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was an educator and school principal. From 1850 to 1854 Abbot attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating second in his class. As a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, Abbot served first in the Office of Pacific Railroad Explorations and Surveys in Washington, D.C., and then in 1855 in California and Oregon surveying a railroad route....

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Abercromby, James (1706–23 April 1781), British general, was born in Glassaugh, Banffshire, Scotland, the son of Alexander Abercromby, laird of Glassaugh, and Helen Meldrum. Abercromby belonged to a wealthy Scottish family; his father helped him get established in life, first by purchasing him a position in the British army, then by helping him gain the posts of commissioner of supply and justice of the peace in Banffshire. His family connections were also important in his securing election to parliament in 1734 and maintaining the seat over the years. Because of his political and military importance in his homeland, throughout his adult life he held the posts of King’s Painter in Scotland and the governorship of Stirling Castle. He married Mary Duff, a third cousin, and had two children....

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Creighton W. Abrams [left to right] President Lyndon Johnson and Creighton W. Abrams (1968) at a White House briefing on the war in Vietnam, 1968. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-306-PSA-68[3528]).

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Abrams, Creighton Williams, Jr. (15 September 1914–04 September 1974), army officer, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Creighton W. Abrams, a railway repairman, and Nellie Randall. At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Abrams excelled in horsemanship, played football, and attained a mediocre academic record, finishing 185th in a class of 276. He graduated in 1936 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry. That same year he married Julia Harvey, with whom he would have six children....

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Adair, John (09 January 1757–19 May 1840), soldier, politician, and governor of Kentucky, was born in Chester County, South Carolina, the son of Baron William Adair and Mary Moore. Little is known about his childhood. As a young man, he fought in the revolutionary war and was captured by the British. During his imprisonment he suffered many cruelties, which apparently did little to deter him from becoming a career soldier. After the war Adair traveled west, eventually settling in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1786. In 1784 he had married Katherine Palmer; they had twelve children....

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Adams, Charles (19 December 1845–19 August 1895), soldier and diplomat, was born Karl Adam Schwanbeck in Anclam, Pomerania, Germany, the son of Karl Heinrich Schwanbeck, a cabinetmaker, and Maria J. Markman. Adams was educated at the Gymnasium in Anclam and graduated with very high marks, especially in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Soon after his graduation in 1862, he moved to the United States. He had not been in the New World long before he enlisted in the Union army, serving in the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment. He fought in the Civil War for the remainder of the conflict and was wounded two times....

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Ainsworth, Fred Crayton (11 September 1852–05 June 1934), military surgeon and adjutant general, was born in Woodstock, Vermont, the son of Crayton Ainsworth, a modestly prosperous businessman and machinist, and Harriet Carroll, a seamstress and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union activist.

During 1869 and 1870 Ainsworth attended but did not graduate from Dartmouth College. Upon returning to Woodstock, he studied medicine for three years, then enrolled in the medical school of the City University of New York. He graduated with honors in 1874, served a brief residency on the Bellevue Hospital medical staff, and then won an appointment as an assistant surgeon in the Medical Department of the U.S. Army. In November 1874 he reported to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for his first army assignment as a surgeon....

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Alexander, Edward Porter (26 May 1835–28 April 1910), Confederate soldier and author, was born in Washington, Georgia, the son of Adam Leopold Alexander, a planter and banker, and Sarah Hillhouse Gilbert. Educated by tutors in his wealthy family’s household, Alexander entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1853 and graduated third in the class of 1857. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant of engineers on 1 July 1857 and was promoted to second lieutenant on 10 October 1858. Marked from the first as a promising officer, he taught at West Point immediately upon graduation, accompanied ...

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Alexander, William (25 December 1726–15 January 1783), soldier and claimant to the title of Lord Stirling, was born in New York City, the son of James Alexander, a prominent lawyer, and Mary Spratt Provoost Alexander, a merchant. He grew up in privileged circumstances, receiving an education from his father and private tutors. Although overshadowed by his rich and assertive parents, he loved them and fell into an easy working relationship with his mother in her mercantile business. In 1748 he married Sarah Livingston, daughter of ...

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Allan, John (14 January 1746–07 February 1805), revolutionary war soldier, was born in Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Major William Allan, a British army officer, and Isabella Maxwell. In 1749, when Allan was only three years old, his father brought him and his mother to Nova Scotia to take part in founding the military colony of Halifax. After the dispersion of the Acadians in 1756, Allan’s father retired from the army and took up a tract of former Acadian land in Nova Scotia. Soon the elder Allan was a prominent and wealthy citizen of the province. In 1762 he sent John, his eldest son, to Massachusetts to round out the latter’s education. Much to his father’s chagrin, John Allan imbibed the political attitudes of the New England people and thus became an advocate of the old Whig cause against Britain. Upon his return to Nova Scotia, Allan settled down as a farmer and Indian trader; his business interests flourished, and soon he was wealthy. In 1767 he married Mary Patton, with whom over the next few years he had five children. He also served in positions of honor in his home county of Cumberland: clerk of the sessions and justice of the peace. Advancing to higher ranks, he was appointed clerk of the provincial supreme court, and from 1770 to 1776 he held a seat in the Parliament of Nova Scotia....