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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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Barnitz, Albert Trorillo Siders (10 March 1835–18 July 1912), poet and soldier, was born at Bloody Run, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The names of his parents are not known. His father, a physician, died when Albert was thirteen, and the boy devoted himself to caring for his mother and siblings. Reading widely and deeply in literature, he became a self-taught poet of modest local reputation. His formal education consisted of a year at Kenyon College in 1851 and two years, 1858 to 1859, of intermittent study at the Cleveland Law College. His first marriage, to Eva Prouty in 1859, ended with her death in childbirth a year later....

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Charles Bendire. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94579).

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Bendire, Charles Emil (27 April 1836–04 February 1897), naturalist and soldier, was born Karl Emil Bender at König im Odenwald in Hesse-Darmstadt (now in Germany). The identities of his parents are not known. At age twelve he began his studies at a theological seminary in Passy, France. Misconduct led to his departure five years later. In 1853 he immigrated to the United States and anglicized his name to Charles Bendire. The following year he joined the First Dragoons in the U.S. Army. During his second enlistment, which began in 1860, he became a sergeant and later hospital steward in the Fourth Cavalry....

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John Shaw Billings. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Eugene A. Carr. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90943).

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Carr, Eugene Asa (20 March 1830–02 December 1910), army officer, was born in Concord, Erie County, New York, the son of Clark Murwin Carr and Delia Ann Torrey (occupations unknown). He entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1846, graduating four years later, nineteenth in his class of forty-four. Assigned to the Regiment of Mounted Rifles as a brevet second lieutenant, Carr received his regular commission on 30 June 1851. Joining his regiment at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he served in two military expeditions to the Rocky Mountains during 1852–1853. The following year, Carr was wounded while serving as second in command during Captain John A. Walker’s pursuit of Apaches west of newly created Fort Davis, Texas. Though his wound was initially presumed to be fatal, Carr recovered and was promoted to first lieutenant, First Cavalry Regiment....

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Adna R. Chaffee. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-89801).

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Chaffee, Adna Romanza (14 April 1842–01 November 1914), army officer, was born in Orwell, Ashtabula County, Ohio, the son of Truman Bibbins Chaffee and Grace Hyde, farmers. He was raised on his father’s farm, receiving only a rudimentary education. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Chaffee left home intending to join an Ohio regiment, but he met the Sixth U.S. Cavalry and enlisted as a private on 22 July 1861. He rode with the Sixth for the next twenty-seven years. By dint of good soldiering, Chaffee became sergeant within weeks and, following service in the Peninsula and Antietam campaigns, rose to first sergeant. On 12 May 1863 he was commissioned second lieutenant at the behest of Secretary of War ...

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George A. Custer. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1613).

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Custer, George Armstrong (05 December 1839–25 June 1876), Civil War general and Indian fighter, was born in New Rumley, Ohio, the son of Emanuel Custer and Maria Ward, farmers. Reared in the rough-and-tumble environment of a large, rural family, “Autie” was a strapping, energetic youth who enjoyed hunting, fishing, and practical jokes and valued romantic novels over academic studies. From his family he acquired a strong affinity for Methodism and the Democratic party. Custer was educated at Stebbins Academy in Monroe, Michigan, where he lived part time with a half sister, and at McNeely Normal School in Hopedale, Ohio, and then taught briefly at two country schools in Ohio before winning, at age seventeen, an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Entering in June 1857, he graduated four years later, at the outbreak of the Civil War. His academic and conduct record at West Point was as dismal as his record in the combat arts was outstanding. Graduating at the foot of his class of thirty-four, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the Second U.S. Cavalry in time to take part in the first battle of Manassas....

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John Adams Dix. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109924).

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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William Henry Forwood. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B012090).

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Forwood, William Henry (07 September 1838–11 May 1915), army medical officer, was born in Brandywine Hundred, Delaware, the son of Robert Forwood and Rachel Way Larkin (occupations unknown). He attended both private and public schools before entering the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his medical degree in 1861. He was commissioned as an assistant surgeon and first lieutenant in the Union Army Medical Department on 5 August of that year....

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A. W. Greely. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62--95948).

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Greely, Adolphus Washington (27 March 1844–20 October 1935), soldier and arctic explorer, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of John Balch Greely, a shoemaker, and Frances D. Cobb, a cotton mill weaver. Greely graduated from Brown High School, Newburyport, in 1860, and in the following year, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served as a private, corporal, and first sergeant and was hospitalized for wounds sustained at Antietam, including a facial injury, which he covered with a beard for the remainder of his life. On furlough in 1863 he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Fourth U.S. Volunteers (later Eighty-first U.S. Colored Infantry), stationed in Louisiana....

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Grierson, Benjamin Henry (08 July 1826–31 August 1911), soldier, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Grierson and Mary Sheppard. In 1829 the family moved west to Youngstown, Ohio, where young Ben displayed a talent for music and by the age of thirteen was leading the Youngstown band. The Grierson family settled permanently in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1849....

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William Babcock Hazen. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104939 ).