Sketches of Students of Second Decade.
GENERAL EDWARD G. BECKWITH, a grandson of Honorable B. Beckwith, was born in Cazenovia, New York; was a student at the Seminary in 1837, leaving it in 1838 to enter as a cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduating there in 1842; was appointed second lieutenant in the Third Regiment of United States Artillery, and in 1846 was promoted first lieutenant in the same regiment, and served through the Mexican war. In 1849, in crossing the continent through New Mexico, Sonora, and Arizona, was engaged in several Indian fights, and upon the death of its commander, in crossing the Colorado River, took charge of a military escort and conducted a party of civil officials through San Diego, California. In 1840 was married to a daughter of Mr. John P. Williamson, of Savannah, Georgia. In 1853 was assistant to Captain J. W. Gunnison, United States Topographical Engineers, in explorations for a Pacific railroad by the route of the thirty-eighth degree of north latitude, and when that officer was killed by the Indians, took charge of the explorations and continued them north to the lines of the fortieth and forty-first degrees north latitude, and following up the Weber River, crossed the Wahsach and other mountains to Greene River. Returned again to the Great Salt Lake Valley by the Zimponozos River during the height of the snows of that season, and afterward crossed to and descended the Humboldt River valley, the present Pacific railroad route, and explored various passes in the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento valley and San Francisco.
Lieutenant Beckwith declined the appointment of captain of infantry, tendered him through the secretary of war personally, and was promoted captain of Third Artillery in May, 1855. From 1857 to 1860 was engaged under the topographical engineer, Burton, of the War Department, in the survey and construction of military roads in territories west of the Missouri River.
At the opening of the war of the Rebellion, in April, 1861, he was assigned to duty as chief Commissary of Subsistence Department of Pennsylvania, accompanying its commander, Major-General Robert Patterson, with his army, into Virginia in July; and after the disaster of Bull Run was appointed chief commissary of subsistence successively of the Department of the Shenandoah, and of the Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major-General N. P. Banks, whose troops defeated General (Stonewall) Jackson in his first battle at Winchester, Virginia, but were compelled to retire temporarily across the Potomac after his second battle at Winchester, in May, 1862.
In June the subject of this sketch was appointed chief commissary of subsistence of the Army of Virginia, commanded by Major-General John Pope, who conducted the campaign- resulting in the battles of Cedar Mountain, Manassas, of the second
Bull Run, and of Chantilly, and in July, while with this command; was appointed additional aid-de-camp, with the rank of colonel in the army. During October and November, as chief commissary, organized and fitted out the "Commissioner" of the reinforcing army, that sailed from New York for Louisiana in the latter month, and in December, 1862, was appointed chief commissary of subsistence of the Department of the Gulf, and continued to perform the duties thereof during the siege of Port Hudson, and the various other campaigns and military operations that took place in the department, which included Louisiana and Texas, and the gulf portions of the States of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida until August, 1865, after the close of the war; besides also being provost-marshal general of the department during some months, and at the same time commander of defenses of New Orleans from August, 1863, to June, 1864. Since August, 1865, on duty in the commissary general's office of the department in examining claims brought against the Government for army subsistence.
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