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Joseph R. Anderson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2073).

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Anderson, Joseph Reid (16 February 1813–07 September 1892), industrialist and Confederate soldier, was born in Botetourt County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the son of William Anderson and Anna Thomas, farmers. Anderson received his early education in the local schools. After having been rejected twice, he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1832 at age nineteen. Graduating fourth of forty-nine in 1836, he preferred a post in the elite Corps of Engineers but was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery. Soon he was assigned to Fort Monroe, where he met his first wife, Sally Archer, daughter of the post physician, Dr. Robert Archer. They were married in the spring of 1837 and eventually had five children....

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Benner, Philip (19 May 1762–27 July 1832), soldier, pioneer ironmaster, and entrepreneur, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Benner and Dinah Thomas, farmers. For Philip Benner as for many of his generation, the American Revolution was the defining experience of his early life. When his father, a vocal patriot, was imprisoned by the British, Philip went to war in the Continental army wearing a vest in which his mother had quilted guineas in case of emergency. Benner fought as a private under the command of his relative General ...

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Biddle, Clement (10 May 1740–14 July 1814), merchant and army officer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Biddle, a shipping merchant, and Sarah Owen. Biddle’s great-grandfather, who came to America in 1681, was one of the proprietors of West New Jersey. Biddle’s father moved from Mount Hope, New Jersey, to Philadelphia in 1730. Except for some interruption from his army service, Clement Biddle was a lifelong merchant whose family eventually achieved great prominence in Philadelphia. He formed a partnership early in life with his father called John & Clement Biddle. On 6 June 1764 Biddle married Mary Richardson, daughter of Francis Richardson of Chester, Pennsylvania. They had one child, Frances, who died in infancy; Biddle became a widower in 1773. On 18 August 1774 he took as his second wife Rebekah Cornell, daughter of Gideon Cornell, who at the time of his death in 1765 was lieutenant governor and chief justice of Rhode Island. Rebekah lived until 18 November 1831, having borne thirteen children, two of whom died in infancy. Nine children married into prominent families, as did their successors, and this Biddle branch became one of Philadelphia’s most powerful and wealthy families. Clement Biddle’s sister, Ann, married General ...

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Bomford, George (1780–25 March 1848), soldier, was born in New York City. Little information about his parents is known other than that his father was a military officer during the American Revolution, though it is not clear on which side. George officially became a cadet of the U.S. Military Academy on 24 October 1804, one of a class of three. He graduated only eight months later, on 1 July 1805, and was appointed second lieutenant of engineers. He received promotion to first lieutenant on 30 October 1806 and to captain 23 February 1808....

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Don Carlos Buell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-9979).

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Buell, Don Carlos (23 March 1818–19 November 1898), soldier and businessman, was born near Marietta, Ohio, the son of Salmon D. Buell and Eliza (maiden name unknown), farmers. After his father’s death in 1823, the boy lived mostly in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, with an uncle, George P. Buell, who got him an appointment to West Point in 1837. Graduating in the lower half of his 1841 class, Buell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Infantry. He served in the Seminole War and was promoted to first lieutenant on 18 June 1846. In November 1851 he married Margaret Hunter Mason, a widow. They had no children....

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Kit Carson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107570).

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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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Clarkson, Matthew (17 October 1758–25 April 1825), revolutionary war soldier and businessman, was born in New York City, the son of David Clarkson and Elizabeth French. After attending boarding school in Kingsbridge, New York, he enlisted at age seventeen in a corps of fusiliers under the command of Richard Ritzema and ...

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Craig, Isaac (1742–14 June 1826), American revolutionary officer and Pittsburgh business and civic leader, was born in Hillsborough, Ireland, to parents whose names and occupations are not known. He came to Philadelphia in late 1765 and worked in that city for about ten years as a master carpenter and builder. He became a patriot and in November 1775 was appointed as a first lieutenant in the first company of marines. That year Craig served on the ...

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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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Douglas, H. Ford (1831–11 November 1865), abolitionist and military officer, was born in Virginia, the son of a white man, William Douglas, and a slave, Mary (surname unknown). His first name was Hezekiah, which he chose to abbreviate. Sometime after his fifteenth birthday, he escaped from slavery and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a barber. Self-educated, he became an active member of the antislavery movement and the Ohio free black community in the 1850s. He served as Cleveland agent for the ...

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Flipper, Henry Ossian (21 March 1856–03 May 1940), soldier and engineer, was born in Thomasville, Georgia, the son of Festus Flipper and Isabelle (maiden name unknown), slaves. During the Civil War and Reconstruction he was educated in American Missionary Association schools and in 1873 gained admission to Atlanta University. That year Flipper also obtained an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy through the auspices of Republican Representative James C. Freeman. He was not the first African American to attend West Point, as Michael Howard and James Webster Smith preceded him in 1870, but neither graduated. Flipper subsequently endured four years of grueling academic instruction and ostracism from white classmates before graduating fiftieth in a class of sixty-four on 14 June 1877. He was commissioned second lieutenant in the all-black Tenth U.S. Cavalry, and the following year recounted his academy experience in an autobiography, ...

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Folsom, Nathaniel (18 September 1726–26 May 1790), merchant and soldier, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of Jonathan Folsom and Anna Ladd Foster, farmers. When Folsom was fourteen his father died. He was apprenticed to a trade but later became a merchant and, with two partners, began his own trading firm. He had no formal or academic education....

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Glover, John (05 November 1732–30 January 1797), merchant and army officer, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Jonathan Glover, a house carpenter, and Tabitha Bacon. When he was four years old Glover’s father died. Some time thereafter the widowed mother moved with her four sons to nearby Marblehead. Glover became a shoemaker and then entered into the fishing business. He married Hannah Gale in 1754; they had eleven children. With profits from fishing Glover purchased a small coasting vessel and began trading with the West Indies and the Iberian peninsula. By 1774 Glover had accumulated considerable property and had become one of Marblehead’s leading citizens....

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Graham, Joseph (13 October 1759–12 November 1836), revolutionary soldier, political leader, and iron entrepreneur, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of James Graham and Mary McConnell Barber, farmers. Graham’s father rented the land he farmed. Upon his death in 1763, his mother joined the great Scotch-Irish migration to the South, moving her family to the Carolina back country via Charleston, South Carolina. Eventually the widow Graham and her five children—three sons and two daughters—settled in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where in 1771 she purchased a 200-acre farm near Charlotte....

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Greene, Francis Vinton (27 June 1850–15 May 1921), army officer and business executive, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of General George Sears Greene (1801–1899) and Martha Dana. Entering the U.S. Military Academy in 1866, he graduated first in his class in 1870. He married Belle Eugénie Chevallié in 1879; they had six children....

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Hanger, James Edward (25 February 1843–09 June 1919), soldier and businessman, was born at his father's plantation, “Mt. Hope,” near Churchville, Augusta County, Virginia, the son of William Alexander Hanger, planter, and Eliza Hogshead Hanger. After receiving his early education in local schools, in 1859 he enrolled at Washington College (now Washington & Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, where he studied engineering....

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Harney, William Selby (22 August 1800–09 May 1889), soldier, was born in Haysborough, Tennessee, the son of Thomas Harney, a merchant and surveyor, and Margaret Hudson. Harney was first home educated and later received advanced schooling at Cumberland College. He began his U.S. Army career in 1818 when he was commissioned second lieutenant. Harney was an ambitious, daring, and impulsive officer, traits that would both help and hinder his military career....