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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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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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Bailey, Joseph (06 May 1825–26 March 1867), military engineer, was born probably in Pennsville, Ohio, and moved to Illinois as a child. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. He studied civil engineering and in 1846 married Mary Spaulding. They had one daughter. In 1847 he relocated to Kilbourn City, Wisconsin, where he became a successful lumberman and engineer....

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John G. Barnard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1641).

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Barnard, John Gross (19 May 1815–14 May 1882), soldier, engineer, and scientist, was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Foster Barnard and Augusta Roberta Porter. He was the younger brother of the distinguished educator Frederick Augustus Barnard, president and chancellor of the University of Mississippi and president of Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City. Barnard graduated second in his 1833 class of the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. He married Jane Elizabeth Brand, who died in 1853. He married Anna E. Hall Boyd in 1860....

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Foster, John Gray (27 May 1823–02 September 1874), soldier and engineer, was born in Whitefield Coos County, New Hampshire, the son of Perley Foster and Mary Gray. When Foster was very young, his family moved to Nashua, New Hampshire, where his father was major of the Nashua Light Artillery. Foster graduated fourth in his West Point class of 1846 and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. In 1851 he married Mary Moale (or Mole), with whom he had one child. After Mary’s death in 1871, he married Anna Johnson in 1872; the number of their children, if any, is unknown....

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William B. Franklin Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-3795).

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Franklin, William Buel (27 February 1823–08 March 1903), soldier and engineer, was born in York, Pennsylvania, the son of Walter S. Franklin, a clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sarah Buel. As a young man Franklin showed great promise as an engineer and a soldier. He gained admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at the age of sixteen and graduated four years later first in the class of 1843, whose members included ...

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Herman Hattaway and Eric B. Fair

Gillmore, Quincy Adams (28 February 1825–07 April 1888), soldier and engineer, was born in Black River, Lorain County, Ohio, the son of Quartus Gillmore and Elizabeth Reid, farmers. Gillmore attended a local high school, then taught for three years before his twentieth birthday. His scholarship, especially in mathematics, won him an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in July 1845. Gillmore graduated first of forty-three cadets in the class of 1849. At this time he married Mary Isabella O’Maher. The couple would raise four sons....

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Andrew A. Humphreys. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1423).

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Humphreys, Andrew Atkinson (02 November 1810–27 December 1883), Union soldier and engineer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Humphreys and Letitia Atkinson. Humphreys’s grandfather, Joshua Humphreys, designed the first warships for the U.S. Navy during the administration of George Washington...

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James B. McPherson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-6415).

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McPherson, James B. (14 November 1828–22 July 1864), soldier and Union general, was born James Birdseye McPherson in Green Creek Township, Sandusky County, Ohio, the son of William McPherson, a farmer and blacksmith, and Cynthia Russell. He attended local schools until the age of thirteen, when he went to work as a general store clerk. At the age of eighteen he returned to school for two years at Norwalk (Ohio) Academy. In 1849 he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy. Despite an active social life at West Point, he compiled a superb record and graduated at the top of his class in 1853. His roommate was ...

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George G. Meade. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1467).

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Herman Hattaway and Michael D. Smith

Meade, George Gordon (31 December 1815–06 November 1872), soldier and engineer, was born in Cadiz, Spain, the son of Richard Worsam Meade, a merchant and U.S. naval agent, and Margaret Coates Butler. Meade came to the United States at the age of one and a half years with his mother, who established a home in Philadelphia while her husband, caught up in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, languished in a Spanish prison. Released in 1818, Richard Meade eventually moved his family to Washington in an effort to recover a sizable debt owed him by the U.S. government. The claim was disallowed, and as family finances dwindled, George attended a succession of private schools in Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore. After the death of Meade’s father, Margaret Meade, seeking the least costly expedient, obtained an appointment for George to the U.S. Military Academy. He entered West Point in September 1831 at the age of fifteen....

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Meigs, Montgomery Cunningham (03 May 1816–02 January 1892), army officer, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Charles Meigs, a physician, and Mary Montgomery. Soon after the family relocated to Philadelphia. In 1831 Meigs briefly attended the University of Pennsylvania there. He transferred to the U.S. Military Academy the following year and on 1 July 1836 graduated fifth in his class of forty-nine. As a second lieutenant, Meigs was initially posted with the First Artillery Regiment but subsequently requested and received transfer to the engineers. He engaged in various construction projects over the next sixteen years, commencing with Fort Mifflin near Philadelphia. He also worked on navigational improvements along the Mississippi River with Lieutenant ...

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John Newton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1557).

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Newton, John (24 August 1822–01 May 1895), soldier and engineer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Thomas Newton, a U.S. congressman, and Margaret Jordan Pool. Newton attended West Point, where he graduated 1 July 1842, second in a class of fifty-six. Following graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant and posted to the engineers. He served as assistant to the Board of Engineers until 1843 then as an instructor of engineering at West Point until 1846. Subsequently assigned to duties of increasing responsibility in fortification, river, harbor, and lighthouse work, he was the superintending engineer of construction of Forts Wayne, Michigan; and Porter, Niagara, and Ontario, New York. He married Anna M. Starr in 1848; they had six children. In 1858 he served as the chief engineer of the Mormon Expedition, his only field service prior to the Civil War....

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Joseph G. Totten. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1554).

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Totten, Joseph Gilbert (23 August 1788–22 April 1864), soldier, engineer, and scientist, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Peter Totten and Grace Mansfield. Totten was raised by his uncle, Jared Mansfield, following the death of his mother when he was three and his father’s appointment as vice consul at Santa Cruz in the Caribbean. Totten entered West Point as a cadet in 1802, the same year that his guardian Mansfield took an appointment as the first professor of mathematics at the infant U.S. Military Academy. He graduated in his 1805 class of three, only the tenth graduate of the academy, and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. Within a year he resigned his commission to be secretary to his guardian, who left West Point to become surveyor general of the Northwest Territory, charged with the first systematic survey of the new states....