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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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Adalbert Ames. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1728).

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Ames, Adelbert (31 October 1835–13 April 1933), soldier and politician, was born in Rockland, Maine, the son of Jesse Ames, a sea captain, and Martha B. Tolman. After spending some time at sea as a teenager, Ames entered the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1861. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Fifth Artillery. During the Civil War he was wounded at First Bull Run (First Manassas) on 21 July, and he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism there in refusing to leave his post despite the wound. He served with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula campaign of 1862, and for his actions at Malvern Hill he was brevetted lieutenant colonel. On 8 August 1862 he was named colonel in command of the Twentieth Maine Volunteer Infantry, with ...

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Babcock, Orville Elias (25 December 1835–02 June 1884), soldier, engineer, and presidential secretary, was born in Franklin, Vermont, the son of Elias Babcock, Jr., and Clara Olmstead. Graduating third in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1861, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of engineers. During the first year of the Civil War he gained promotion to first lieutenant, serving successively in the Department of Pennsylvania and the Department of the Shenandoah. He was then transferred to the Army of the Potomac, where he served on the staff of ...

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Edward D. Baker. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90165).

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Baker, Edward Dickinson (24 February 1811–21 October 1861), statesman and soldier, was born in London, England, the son of Edward Baker, an educator, and Lucy Dickinson. The family emigrated to the United States in 1815 and lived in Philadelphia for about ten years. The elder Baker ran a school that young Edward attended until he secured employment as a hand loom weaver. Attracted by ...

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Nathaniel Prentiss Banks. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-4780).

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Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (30 January 1816–01 September 1894), congressman and Civil War general, was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel P. Banks, a textile mill foreman, and Rebecca Greenwood. He attended a school for factory children until he began work in the mills as a bobbin boy at age eleven. At seventeen he left factory work to assist his father in carpentry and to learn the machinist’s trade....

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Frank P. Blair. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1704).

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Blair, Francis Preston, Jr. (19 February 1821–09 July 1875), statesman and Union army officer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Francis Preston Blair, the influential editor of the Congressional Globe, and Eliza Violet Gist Blair. He was a brother of Montgomery Blair...

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Blunt, James Gillpatrick (21 July 1826–25 July 1881), physician, soldier, and politician, was born in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine, the son of John Blunt. Blunt spent his early youth in Ellsworth, Maine, but at age fifteen enlisted as a merchant seaman. Leaving the sea at age twenty, Blunt studied medicine at the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio, earning a medical degree in 1849. He set up a practice in New Madison, Ohio, where he married Nancy Carson Putnam. In 1856 he migrated to the frontier, settling at Greeley, Kansas. There he continued his medical practice but soon became actively interested in politics, becoming deeply involved in the antislavery movement and aiding ...

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Bragg, Edward Stuyvesant (20 February 1827–20 June 1912), Civil War general, congressman, and diplomat, was born in Unadilla, Otsego County, New York, the son of Joel Bragg, a rural businessman, and Margaretha Kohl. Bragg received his early education at local schools and went on to study law at Geneva College (now Hobart College) in Geneva, New York. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1848. After briefly practicing in Unadilla, he migrated to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, at the age of twenty-three. He was admitted to the Wisconsin bar and began a lifetime practice of arguing cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1854 he was elected district prosecuting attorney. That same year he married Cornelia Coleman; they had four children....

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Brayton, Charles Ray (16 August 1840–23 September 1910), soldier and politician, was born in the village of Apponaug in the town of Warwick, Rhode Island, the son of William Daniel Brayton, a Republican congressman (1857–1861), and Anna Ward Clarke. He traced his Rhode Island roots back to 1643 and the founding of Warwick. He first attended nearby East Greenwich Academy, then studied at the Fruit Hill Classical Academy in North Providence, and finally entered Brown University in 1859. He was scheduled to graduate in the class of 1863 but left college in 1861 to organize a Warwick company for the Third Rhode Island Volunteers, a heavy artillery unit. As an artillery officer Brayton served in such sieges and battles as those at Fort Pulaski, Fort Sumter, Fort Wagner, Drury’s Bluff, Laurel Hill, Fort Burnham, and Petersburg. In March 1864 he was appointed chief of artillery for the Department of the South, a post he held until his discharge in 1865, when he was allowed to retire with the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In March 1865 he married Antoinette Percival Belden, daughter of Brayton’s headmaster at Fruit Hill Classical Academy; the couple had one child....

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Ambrose E. Burnside Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1625).

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Burnside, Ambrose Everett (23 May 1824–13 September 1881), soldier and businessman, was born in Liberty, Indiana, the son of Pamelia Brown and Edghill Burnside, a law clerk and farmer. The Burnsides had nine children and only a modest income, so Ambrose received no more than a rudimentary education before starting work as an apprentice tailor in 1840. His father took advantage of a term in the state legislature to have the boy appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, which he entered on 1 July 1843. He graduated eighteenth out of thirty-eight cadets in the class of 1847 and was commissioned second lieutenant in the Third U.S. Artillery. His battery was serving in the Mexican War, and he joined it in Mexico City, too late to see action. Bored, he gambled away six months’ pay. Further embarrassment was prevented by a posting, in spring 1848, to Fort Adams, Rhode Island....

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Benjamin F. Butler. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1406).

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Butler, Benjamin Franklin (05 November 1818–11 January 1893), governor of Massachusetts and Civil War general, was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, the son of John Butler, a seaman, and Charlotte Ellison, both of Scots-Irish descent. John Butler died while his son was still an infant, and in 1828 Charlotte moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, to keep a boardinghouse for female factory workers. Butler was educated at Waterville (now Colby) College, which he attended from 1834 to 1838. He studied law while clerking for the Lowell attorney William Smith and was admitted to the bar in 1840. In 1844 he married the actress Sarah Hildreth, with whom he had four children, three of whom survived to adulthood....

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Joshua L. Chamberlain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1859).

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....

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Clark, William Thomas (29 June 1831–12 October 1905), soldier and politician, was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of Levi Clark and Fanny (maiden name unknown). Little is known of his family except that they were poor, and he was forced to leave the common schools of Norwalk at the age of thirteen. Afterward he did odd jobs, taught school, and studied law. In 1854 he moved to New York City, where he was admitted to the bar in 1855. In 1856 he married Laura Clark (no relation) from Hartford, Connecticut....