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The following text is reproduced from (the report of the) Tenth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 12, 1879.

p24 Augustus L. Roumfort
No. 161. Class of 1817.
Died, August 2d, 1878, at Harrisburg, Pa., Aged 82.

Brigadier-General Augustus L. Roumfort was born December 10, 1796, in Paris, while all France was resounding with the praises of General Bonaparte, then preparing for the final overthrow of the Austrians at Rivoli, and there to end, in a blaze of glory, his memorable Italian campaign.

Roumfort continued in the quaint old quarter of his native city till after the establishment of the first Empire. In his after days he took particular delight in vividly recalling his early impressions p25of the gorgeous civil and military pageant of the coronation, December 2, 1804, of the great Napoleon. Soon after this striking event, his father emigrated to Philadelphia, Pa., where his young son was soon sent to school and reared under the strictest discipline. Before he was eighteen years old, September 26, 1814, he was appointed a cadet of the U. S. Military Academy, from which he was graduated April 15, 1817, and promoted to be a 2d Lieutenant of Marines. After a short service at Washington and Philadelphia in this corps, he resigned, August 18, 1818.

Upon entering civil life he devoted himself closely to the study of the languages and the applied sciences, thus admirably fitting himself for his new vocation, in 1824, of Professor of Mathematics in Mount Airy Academy, at Germantown, Pa. Of this seminary he became, in 1826, the principal, under its new name of the American Classical and Military Lyceum, which became an excellent preparatory school for young men designing to enter the West Point Military Academy. He conducted the institution with great success till December 19, 1834.

While thus engaged in educational pursuits, Roumfort, who had become a Colonel of Pennsylvania Militia, entered warmly into the politics of the period, and was deeply interested with the leading Democrats of the day. As he began, so he continued his partisan adhesion, though, in the latter part of his life, he arrayed himself fiercely and firmly against what he regarded as the corrupt management of his party, and did not hesitate to denounce men and measures he deemed objectionable.

General Jackson, of whom he was a great admirer, appointed Colonel Roumfort, December 19, 1834, a Military Storekeeper of Ordnance, in which capacity he served at Frankford Arsenal, near Philadelphia, till April 14, 1841, when he resigned.

His active political tendencies soon again brought Roumfort to the Democratic front as a candidate for the State Legislature, and, after a very spirited contest, he was elected, in 1842, from the County of Philadelphia, which he continued to represent till 1845. He bore a leading part in the proceedings of the House, and was, in fact, his party's leader. "Keen in debate, careful in statements and accurate in dealing with official affairs, he was well adapted to engage in the higher work of a deliberative body, and had the nerve to lead those around him. The country was, p26at that period, as now, suffering from financial depression. All the State banks had suspended, and the Commonwealth was paying its domestic creditors in scrip, no money being had, and no revenues could be collected beyond what was required to meet the interest on the debt held abroad. For the first time a bill was brought forward for abolishing imprisonment for debt, which, while it had able advocates, none supported more fearlessly or more ably than General Roumfort, who was regarded, at the time, as its champion. In all the debates of the period he was conspicuous; his speeches were models of elegant English; and his arguments germane to the subject under discussion. The House heard him with respect and attention, and the record he then made gave him a reputation as a legislator beyond the limits of the State he served."

Roumfort's natural taste and West Point education had implanted in him a strong military disposition; hence, in 1820, he became a Captain of Pennsylvania Militia; in 1824, a Lieutenant-Colonel; in 1826, a Colonel; and, in 1843, was elected to the command of the Second Brigade. The year after becoming a Brigadier-General he bore a conspicuous part in the operations for the suppression of the native American riots in Philadelphia. His prudence, promptitude and vigor on scene of tumult and his wise counsels in devising means for crushing disorder, materially aided in restoring quiet, for which he received the warm commendation of the State authorities.

When, two years later, Roumfort offered his services for the Mexican War, though his military leadership had been so highly appreciated, he failed to be elected Colonel of the Second Regiment of Volunteers, and to accompany it to the halls of the Montezumas. His defeat, however, did not dampen the ardor of his advocacy of every measure of the government to secure a successful issue to the contest.

Failing in his military aspirations, he accepted the position of Harbor Master of the Port of Philadelphia, which he held till 1849, when he was appointed Superintendent of Motive Power on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, then owned and operated by the State of Pennsylvania. His admirable administration of the high trust committed to his care, and the business-like qualities exhibited by him in the direction of the vast interests in p27his charge, caused the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in 1850, to unanimously appoint Roumfort the Superintendent of the division of that road, which terminated at Harrisburg. For the twelve years during which he held this highly responsible position, he devoted his undivided energies with such vigor and zeal that he has left behind an enviable reputation for fidelity and sterling integrity.

About the time he was completing his faithful stewardship on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Rebellion had commenced, but, with all his military enthusiasm, he was too old to take the field. However, his talents and services were not lost to the country, for, in 1862, he was elected Mayor of Harrisburg, which high office he held during all the trying years of the civil war. Besides the ordinary executive duties which devolve upon the chief magistrate of a large city in times of peace, Roumfort's responsibilities were enormously increased in 1863, when the Confederate army invaded Pennsylvania and threatened its capital. Harrisburg was then an important strategic position, a great depot of military supplies, a central rendezvous for large bodies of troops, and became, after the battle of Gettysburg, the asylum of thousands of fugitives. Though his position called for the highest civil and military knowledge, and the exercise of the most energetic administrative qualities, Roumfort proved equal to the emergency. As a true West Pointer, he performed faithfully and fearlessly his whole duty, adding a civic wreath to a soldier's laurels, and won the highest commendations of the city, state and military authorities for his efficiency in maintaining law and order in a trying crisis.

Soon after the close of the Rebellion Roumfort retired to private life, when he devoted his leisure to literary pursuits, still, however, continuing to be an interested observer of the political chess-board.

General Roumfort had a magnificent physique, being over six feet high, was well-proportioned, and, to the day of his death, maintained his military bearing. He was peculiar in many things; seemingly haughty, though always the polished gentleman; decided in his opinions of men and manners; honorable in all his transactions; a faithful servant in all his varied trusts; and has left an unsullied name after a well-spent life of eighty-two years.

(Brevet Major-General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George W. Cullum.)


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