|This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.|
(Born N. J.)
(Ap'd N. J.)
Born Sep. 6, 1795,a1 Bridgetown, NJ.
Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, Oct. 24, 1814, to July 24, 1818, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
Second Lieut., Light Artillery, July 24, 1818.
Served: in garrison at Boston, Mas., and New London, Ct., 1818‑21; on Commissary duty at St. Augustine, Fla., 1821‑24; as Aide-de‑Camp
(Second Lieut., 1st Artillery,
(Transferred to 4th Artillery, Aug. 16, 1821)
(First Lieut., 4th Artillery, Aug. 23, 1821)
to Major-General Brown, Oct. 21, 1824, to July, 1825; on Commissary duty at St. Augustine, Fla., 1825‑26; as Asst. Quartermaster, 1826‑29;
(Asst. Quartermaster, May 19, 1826, to Feb. 25, 1829)
(Bvt. Captain, Aug. 23, 1831, For Faithful Service Ten Years in one Grade)
N. Y., 1831‑32; on "Black Hawk Expedition," 1832, but not at seat of war;b in garrison at Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1832‑34, — Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1834, — Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1834‑35, — and Ft. Hamilton,
(Captain, 4th Artillery, Apr. 10, 1835)
N. Y., 1835‑36; in Operations in Creek Nation, 1836; in the Florida War, 1836‑38, as Lieut.‑Colonel, Reg. Mounted Creek Volunteers, Sep. 1, 1836, to Sep. 18, 1837, being engaged against the Seminole Indians in the Battle of Wahoo Swamp, Nov. 21, 1836, — and on Quartermaster
(Bvt. Major, Nov. 21, 1836, for Gallant Conduct on Several Occasions,
duty at St. Augustine, Fla., 1837‑38; in garrison at Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1838; in the Florida War, 1838‑39; at the Camp of Instruction near Trenton, N. J., 1839; on the Northern Frontier during Canada Border disturbances, at Ft. Mackinac, Mich., 1839‑41, — Ft. Brady, Mich., 1841, and Buffalo, N. Y., 1841‑42; on Recruiting service, 1842; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1842‑43, 1843‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑48, as Major of Artillery Battalion of the "Army of Occupation," Aug. 10, 1846, to Mar. 1, 1847, being engaged in the Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, — Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9‑29, 1847, — Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17‑18, 1847, — Battle of Contreras, Aug. 19‑20, 1847, —
(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., Aug. 20, 1847,
Battle of Molino del Rey (in reserve), Sep. 8, 1847), — and Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico, Sep. 13‑14, 1847; on Recruiting service,
(Bvt. Colonel, Sep. 13, 1847,
1848‑49; in command of the General Depot of Recruits at Ft. Columbus, N. Y., 1849‑51; as Superintendent of General Recruiting Service, at
(Major, 2d Artillery, Jan. 9, 1851)
Ft. Wood, N. Y., 1851‑52; in Florida Hostilities against the Seminole Indians, 1852‑53; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1853; on Recruiting service, 1853‑54; in Florida Hostilities against the Seminole Indians, 1854‑56; in garrison at Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1856‑57, — and Ft. Monroe, Va., 1857; in command of the Artillery School for Practice at Ft. Monroe, Va., Dec. 29, 1857, to Nov. 26, 1859; as Inspector of Artillery, Dec. 13, 1859, to Dec. 23, 1860; and in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va. (Artillery School for Practice), 1860, — and Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1860‑61.
Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in command of U. S. troops in Washington, D. C., and at Ft. McHenry, Md., Jan. 6 to Apr. 4, 1861, — of Ft. Pickens, Fla.,c Apr. 16, 1861, to Feb. 25,
(Lieut.‑Colonel, 4th Artillery, Apr. 28, 1861)
(Colonel, 5th Artillery, May 14, 1861)
1862, being engaged in the Repulse of the Rebel Attack on Santa Rosa Island,
(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Sep. 28, 1861: Declined)
Fla., Oct. 9, 1861, and the Bombardments of Ft. Pickens, Nov. 22‑23,
(Bvt. Brig.‑General, Nov. 23, 1861, for Gallantry and Good Conduct during the Engagement of Nov. 22 and 23, 1861, between Fort Pickens and the Rebel Batteries)
1861, and Jan. 1, 1862, — of the defenses of New York harbor, Apr. 5, 1862, to Aug. 1, 1863, being Military Commander of the City of New p191 York, Jan. 15 to July 16, 1863, and employed in suppressing the Riots in that city, July 12‑16, 1863, — and of Ft. Schuyler, at the eastern entrance to New York harbor, Aug. 1, 1863, to June 29, 1864; in waiting orders,
(Retired from Active Service, Aug. 1, 1863, under the Law of July 17, 1862,
June 29, 1864, to Nov. 9, 1866; and as Superintendent of Recruiting
(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Aug. 2, 1866, for Distinguished Services in the Suppression of the Riots in New York city)
service for 42d Infantry, Nov. 9, 1866, to Apr. 5, 1867.
Died, Mar. 31, 1874, at Clifton, Staten Island, N. Y.: Aged 78.
Buried, Hazelwood Cemetery, Rahway, NJ.
Brevet Major‑General Harvey Brown was born, 1796,a2 in Bridgetown, now forming part of the town of Rahway, N. J.; and died Mar. 31, 1874, at Clifton, Staten Island, N. Y., at the advanced age of seventy-eight years.
He entered the U. S. Military Academy, Oct. 24, 1814, and was graduated therefrom July 24, 1818, when he was promoted to be a Second Lieutenant of Light Artillery. On the re-organization of the Army, in 1821, he was transferred, Aug. 14, 1821, to the Fourth Regiment of Artillery, in which he continued through the successive grades till Jan. 9, 1851, when he became Major of the Second Artillery.
Besides performing the ordinary garrison duties of an Artillery officer, he served as Aide-de‑Camp to the General-in‑Chief, Major-General Brown, 1824‑25; as Assistant Quartermaster, 1826‑29; on the "Black Hawk Expedition," 1832; in the Florida War, 1836‑39, being engaged, as Lieut.‑Colonel of the Regiment of Mounted Creek Volunteers, in the sharp action of Wahoo Swamp, Nov. 21, 1836, receiving for his gallant conduct the brevet of Major; and on the Canada border, in the "Patriot War," 1839‑42.
"On the outbreak, in 1846, of the War with Mexico," says Gen. Henry J. Hunt, "Major Brown was ordered, soon after the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca-de‑la‑Palma, to the Rio Grande, and assigned as Major to the Artillery Battalion, serving as Infantry. With this command he was engaged in the Battle of Monterey, and was mentioned in the official report as distinguished by his gallantry and good conduct on the 21st, 22d, and 23d days of September.
"A few months after the Battle of Monterey, he was transferred to the southern line of operations under General Scott, for duty with his regiment, and took part with it in the Siege of Vera Cruz, and in the Battle of Cerro Gordo. In the latter battle, aside from his regimental duties, his services in reconnoitring the enemy's positions, and in establishing our own batteries, were specially commended in the official reports.
"In the operations in the valley of Mexico, the Regiment was under the command of Major Gardner, Major Brown being second in command. It formed part of Riley's Brigade which, in the Battle of Contreras, was the leading brigade, and led the column that turned that strong position, gained its rear, and on the morning of the 20th of August, stormed the enemy's batteries and lines, defended by an immensely superior force, and carried them with the bayonet, after a desperate contest of only twenty minutes. The Regiment highly distinguished itself in the assault, and had the great satisfaction of recapturing two of its guns — O'Brien's section — which had been lost, with honor equal to that which recovered them, at Buena Vista, in the preceding February. General Scott, immediately after, came upon the field of battle, and there, in p192 person, publicly and warmly thanked the Regiment for its gallantry and good service. In the official reports of Colonel Riley, commanding the Brigade, Major Brown's name is presented, with that of the regimental commander, as amongst the 'most distinguished,' and the Commanding General in this operation (Persifor Smith), says in his report, 'Majors Gardner and Brown, Fourth Artillery, at the head of their Regiment, setting an example by their own courage, carried the part of the work before them, and Captain Drum had the good fortune to secure the trophies of Buena Vista.' Major Gardner in his report says, 'The services of Bvt. Major Brown, my acting field officer, always efficient, were on this occasion worthy of special note. In command of the right wing, he skillfully guided it through obstacles presented by the broken ground, maintained it in good order, under the flank and rear fire of the enemy's cavalry below the hill, infused in the men the best spirit, and gallantly advanced upon the enemy's cannon and works. I take pleasure in commending him to your special notice.'
"For his services on this day, Major Brown was brevetted a Lieutenant-Colonel, and the further brevet of Colonel was bestowed upon him for gallant conduct at the gate of Belen, City of Mexico, on September 13th, the day of the assault of Chapultepec, and the capture of the city, and no higher praise can be bestowed than to say that his services gave his name a place amongst those of the most worthy of that little army of between 10,000 and 11,000 men, which undertook and accomplished the capture of a capital city of 180,000 inhabitants, a naturally strong position, protected by extensive works, and, besides its population, defended by an army of 35,000 men, thus forcing a peace on a nation of 8,000,000. He carried off as large a portion of the honors as fell to the lot of any one person, and although circumstances placed him in that most difficult of all positions for distinction, a second in command, he gained, step by step, in successive battles, the highest rank to which a regimental officer may be promoted by seniority, and thus earned in advance, on the field of battle, all the grades, from Captain up, to which he afterwards attained in the line.
"After the Mexican War, in 1851, he was promoted to the Majority of the Second Regiment of Artillery, and was again employed in Florida, in 1854‑56, against the Seminole Indians, who had recommenced hostilities, which were only ended by the removal of the tribe to the Indian country west of Arkansas.
"In 1857 a central School for the Artillery was established at Ft. Monroe, Va., and he was selected to organize and command it. The Artillery had been almost without professional instruction from the breaking up in 1832 — the year of the Black Hawk War — of the School established at the same post in 1824 by Mr. Calhoun, then Secretary of War. Colonel Brown brought to this duty all the well known energy, zeal, and industry of his character, and continued to direct it until the end of 1860. In the last year of this service he was, in addition to his other duties, appointed Inspector of Artillery, and at intervals made frequent inspections of Artillery posts, and examinations of officers and men in their specialties, directing the course of instruction to be followed at the posts, as well as at the central School, and from its very nature required time to produce much effect of a practically useful character; yet with all the discouraging circumstances connected with it he was successful, even in this short period, to such a degree that the benefits of his instruction were felt throughout the war, and he had the special good fortune to demonstrate at Ft. Pickens the advantages he had thus secured to the service, and to profit by them in his own operations.
"In the beginning of January, 1861, Secession had taken form and substance, p193 and its deemed necessary to garrison the threatened Capital of the country. Colonel Brown was placed in command of the troops in Washington and Ft. McHenry, and after the new administration was securely installed, in the first days of April, proceeded to Ft. Hamilton to take command of a secret expedition fitting out in New York. On April 6th he sailed with sealed orders, which, upon being opened at sea, directed him to proceed with his command, two light batteries and several companies of infantry, to Ft. Pickens, Florida, — then threatened by a body of insurgents under General Bragg, — to throw his troops into the fort, and to 'hold and possess it' for the Government. Touching at Key West, and at the Tortugas, he reached Ft. Pickens on the 16th of April, and, debarking the troops on the southern shore of Santa Rosa Island, took command of the post, and immediately proceeded to complete its armament so far as the means furnished him would permit, and to prepare it for the attack to which there was every reason to believe it would soon be subjected.
"Actual hostilities had not as yet, so far as known to him, broken out anywhere. The mails still came through from the North by way of Pensacola, where they were opened, and all military information abstracted before being forwarded to Ft. Pickens. Other intercourse with the mainland was interrupted, and Colonel Brown pushed his work with great energy. After a time news reached the Fort of the fall of Ft. Sumter, of the disaster at Big Bethel, and of the events in Texas, by which all hold on that State was lost by the Government, and a large portion of our little army made prisoners in violation of previous engagement.
"Soon after this depressing news was received, a salute of eight guns fired from Ft. Barrancas, opposite Ft. Pickens, announced to the beleaguered garrison the accession of Virginia to the Southern Confederacy, and the consequent certainty that a long and desperate war was upon us. Large bodies of insurgents began to pour into Pensacola, Warrington, the Navy Yard, and the forts opposite, intended for the capture of Pickens, but it was too late. Colonel Brown had so far perfected his defenses that Bragg, a man of energy and daring, but of sound judgment, abstained from the attack to which he was being urged by the rebel authorities in Montgomery, and proceeded, with a vigor equaled only by that to which he was opposed, to multiply the means of attack.
"A regiment of New York Volunteers, Wilson's Zouaves, arrived about this time, as a reinforcement to Ft. Pickens, and was placed in camp •less than a mile above, or to the east of the post, and near the southern shore of Santa Rosa Island. By this means the approaches to the new batteries outside the fort, then in process of construction, were covered from a landing opposite the Navy Yard, and these troops — not necessary for the service of the heavy guns in the work — protected from the effects of a bombardment, whilst their position on the southern shore placed them out of sight, if not out of reach, of the enemy's batteries.
"Soon after his arrival at Ft. Pickens, on the 29th of April, Colonel Brown was promoted by seniority to the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of his old regiment, the Fourth Artillery. In less than a month afterwards, on the 14th of May, the President, by a general order subsequently confirmed and legalized by Congress, created an additional Regiment of Artillery, the Fifth, and selected Lieut.‑Colonel Brown as its Colonel, a well deserved compliment, an acknowledgment of his merits and services, and an act of justice which conferred upon him regimental rank of the same grade that he had won fairly, whilst still a Captain, at the gates of the City of Mexico, nearly fourteen years before.
"Colonel Brown now reaped the benefits of the instruction he had imparted to his young officers at the Artillery School in the preceding p194 years. They went at their work intelligently, and soon had all the batteries constructed and in working order, the engineering operations being under the direction of Major Tower of the Engineers. The interior of the work was prepared in a novel manner; the casemates, occupied as quarters, faced the enemy's batteries, and would be the most exposed to the fire. A large number of chasses of the old pattern were at the post. They were placed in front of the quarters, resting on the pavement and leaning against the wall, above the line of door copings, thus leaving a narrow triangular passageway in front of the quarters, the ends of which were left open for ingress and egress. Against the slope thus formed, sand, dug from the parade, was piled in large quantities, by which a double object was accomplished: the quarters were made shot-proof, and the great holes dug all over the parade gave effectual protection to the garrison from the enemy's shells, which would fall and burst in them. About the time these preparations approached completion, Mr. Russell, the well-known military correspondent of the 'London Times,' visited Ft. Pickens, and, acquainted as he was with the various means devised in the siege of Sebastopol as shelter from similar dangers, expressed his surprise at the effective protection secured by such simple means. Having obtained permission to do so under proper guarantees, Mr. Russell visited the Confederate camps, and found Mr. Jefferson Davis, his family, and a number of officials from Montgomery — then the rebel capital — at Warrington, near the Navy Yard, on a visit, the object being, as was understood, the ascertain why an attack had not been made, to order one, and to be present at the victory that was to follow it. There seems to have been on both sides, at the beginning of the War, the same intolerance of delays in commencing active operations; the same presumptuous assurance of the certain success which must, in the popular opinion, attach to the initiative; and the same disposition to find fault with commanders upon whom the responsibility of such action must fall, and who had the moral courage to oppose their better knowledge and more experienced judgment to the ignorant impatience which urged them to premature action, at the cost of the lives intrusted to their care, and to the hazard of sacrificing the interests of the cause in which they were engaged. General Bragg soon convinced Mr. Davis — himself a soldier — that an attack would be a more serious thing than had been imagined by his less experienced advisers. It was reported that he said to Mr. Russell, in reference to the pressure brought to bear upon him, 'It is all very well to talk of attacking because of our superior numbers, but I know who is opposed to me, and an attack must not be lightly attempted, or defeat will be the certain result.'
"It was not until October that General Bragg considered it safe to make an attempt on the exterior batteries which had been constructed, and upon the Volunteer regiment encamped near them. A success in this undertaking, with the destruction of these outworks, or the disabling of their armaments, would have opened the way to a bombardment which might then have been concentrated on the fort, and at the same time greatly weakened our power of resistance. Besides the Forts — McRee on his extreme right, Barrancas in the centre, directly opposite Ft. Pickens, and a strong battery on his left near the Navy Yard, — there were no less than thirteen other batteries, containing from one to four guns each, distributed along the line, which was •four miles in extent, and armed with heavy seacoast guns and mortars. The distance of these works from Ft. Pickens varied •from 2,100 to 2,900 yards. Five small exterior batteries — Lincoln, Cameron, Totten, Scott, and one unnamed — had been constructed at favorable positions near Ft. Pickens, armed and garrisoned by detachments of regular Artillery, and two companies from the Volunteer camp.
p195 "Besides the patrols on land, Colonel Brown had organized a boat-patrol, which at night moving along the shores, and at times approaching the enemy's position at the Navy Yard, prevented a descent near the fort without a certainty of being discovered in time by the besieged.
"On the night of 8th of October, an expedition consisting, as estimated, of from 1,200 to 1,500 men (about equal to the whole Union force) crossed the Bay above the Navy Yard, and, marching down the southern shore of Santa Rosa Island, attacked the Volunteer camp. The night was intensely dark, and the enemy was close up before being discovered. The picket and the guards sustained the brunt of the attack and behaved well, enabling the command to fall back on the nearest batteries, — Lincoln and Cameron, — one on the Bay, the other on the seashore, the men setting fire to their camp. Colonel Brown sent out Major Vogdes with two companies to their support, and, the firing soon becoming heavy, he sent Major Arnold with two additional companies from the fort, with orders to Colonel Wilson to attack also with his volunteers. Major Vogdes, who had pressed forward with ardor, soon found his command in the darkness intermingled with that of the enemy, was recognized by his voice, and taken prisoner. Captain Hildt, Third Infantry, on whom the command then devolved, disengaged the companies from their perilous position, opened a heavy fire on the enemy, and soon forced them to give way. Major Arnold at this moment came up with his reinforcements, pressed the pursuit, drove the enemy to his boats, and forced him to re-embark, continuing his fire, which was very effective, until they were out of gunshot, when he gave them three cheers, which were not returned. In this handsome affair 200 regulars with 50 volunteers drove four or five times their numbers before them for four miles, and forced them to re-embark. The losses on both sides were severe; on the Union side, about fifty killed and wounded, the loss of the enemy being greater. A number of spikes, to be used in disabling the guns of the batteries, were found on the persons of the killed.
"Colonel Brown, having completed his preparations, did not wait for a second attack, but on the morning of the 22nd of November, having previously notified Flag Officer McKean of the Navy, and invited his co-operation, opened his batteries on the enemy, Flag Officer McKean in the Niagara, and Captain Ellison in the Richmond, taking position near Ft. McRee, and opening at the same time. In half an hour all the enemy's batteries and forts were engaged. The fire was kept up steadily at the rate of a shot from each gun every fifteen or twenty minutes, the enemy's fire being somewhat slower. By noon all the guns of Ft. McRee, except one, and all those at the battery near the Navy Yard, were silenced, and the fire of Barrancas and of several of the other batteries sensibly reduced. The next day the firing was resumed. It was slower and thought to be more effective than on the previous day. About three o'clock in the afternoon fire was communicated to one of the houses in Warrington, directly in front of which one of the enemy's batteries was placed. This soon spread, and two thirds of the village were destroyed. About the same time fire was discovered issuing from the back part of the Navy Yard, probably from the village of Wolcott, immediately adjoining it, from which it soon penetrated to the yard itself. Great damage was also done to the fire-proof building by shot and shell, and a steamer lying at the wharf was disabled and abandoned. The firing was continued until dark of the second day, and with mortars occasionally, until two o'clock next morning, when the combat ceased.
"The fort received a great many shot and shell, but little damage was done beyond the disabling of a gun. The number of men in the fort was comparatively few, only enough to serve the guns. The small loss — one killed and six wounded — demonstrated the efficiency of the means taken p196 to prepare the work for defense, and was a gratifying proof that the labor imposed on the men with this object had been well expended. Again, on the 1st of January, 1862, another brief bombardment took place, but with little result, and the enemy became convinced that the reduction of Ft. Pickens was not within his power.
"Colonel Brown had been offered the commission of Brigadier-General of Volunteers in September, which he declined. After these operations he was brevetted Brigadier-General in the Regular Army, 'for gallantry and good conduct during the engagements of Nov. 22 and 23, 1861, between Ft. Pickens and the rebel batteries;' and this commission, given for services rendered, he accepted with the command of the Department of Florida, which had been previously conferred upon him.
"General Brown's health having been impaired by service and exposure, the effective work at Ft. Pickens having been completed, and the place out of danger, he was transferred Apr. 5, 1862, to the command of the defenses of New York harbor, from which he had sailed just one year previous on the Ft. Pickens expedition. It had been an eventful year in his life and in the military annals of the country, and he had earned a right to the comparative repose that his health now rendered necessary. He remained in this new command until Aug. 1, 1863, having been military commander of the City of New York from Jan. 15 to July 16, and employed in suppressing the riots of July of that year. On the 1st of August, 'having been borne on the army register more than 45 years,' he was, in pursuance of the Law of July 17, 1862, formally 'retired from active service,' but was retained until the close of the war in the command of Ft. Schuyler, and on other duties.
"At the conclusion of the war, and on his final withdrawal, he was raised to the highest grade of rank given in our army in acknowledgment of valuable service; the brevet of Major-General being conferred upon him, Aug. 2, 1866, 'for distinguished services in the suppression of the riots in New York city,' and his efficiency on that occasion was further acknowledged, on the part of those who could perhaps best understand its value, by a vote of thanks of the merchants of New York, and a handsome piece of plate presented as a testimonial of their appreciation of his conduct under very trying circumstances.
"He also received the thanks of his native State (New Jersey) 'for his faithful and gallant services during an eventful life in defense of his country.'
"On being relieved from military duty, General Brown established himself with his family at Clifton, Staten Island, where he spent the remainder of his days. Here, in his retirement, he identified himself with the community which was honored by his residence amongst them, and, as in the army he had always been a good and true soldier, so now, in perfect consistency of character, he was distinguished as a good and true citizen.
"He identified himself with local interests and affairs, and in his relations to his family, his neighbors, and to society bore himself in such manner as to win the affection and respect of all those whose good fortune it was to be admitted to his intimacy. An humble and consistent Christian, his daily life and conduct were marked by the same conscientious devotion to his duties that had always distinguished his career as a soldier and a man. Full of years and full of honors he passed away, leaving to his family and his friends an inheritance of love and admiration, and to all an example of integrity, of honor, and of duty, well worthy of imitation.
"In accordance with the simplicity of his tastes and his character, he had requested that there should be no military display at his funeral. A number of his fellow-officers, old gray-haired comrades, amongst them one of his classmates at West Point, were the pall-bearers, and after the p197 usual services at St. John's, — the parish church, — a file of soldiers bore his body to the boat, and transferred it to the cars at Jersey City. At Rahway it was received by many who had known him all their lives, some of whom had been his schoolmates, and by them it was escorted to its final resting-place, the family burial-ground, in Hazelwood Cemetery."
b The phrase "but not at (the) seat of war" occurs frequently in the Register in connection with the Black Hawk War; the explanation in most cases is the one given in the biographical sketch of James Monroe (q.v.).
c The fort, deep in Southern territory, held out for the duration of the war; strategically commanding the Gulf of Mexico. The details of the contest in the early months of the war, including the attack on Santa Rosa Island, are interesting: "Civil War Operations in and around Pensacola" (FlaHQ 36:125‑165).
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
U. S. M. A.
Class of 1818
History of West Point
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 8 Jul 13