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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A head‑and-shoulders photograph, three-quarters et, of a man of about 60: of an intelligent appearance, with a cast of sadness or pensiveness to the eyes. He is bald on top and wears a military jacket of which we see eight brass buttons, the high collar, and braided epaulets. He is William R. Livermore, the subject of this webpage.]

Colonel William R. Livermore

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Fifty-First Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 14th, 1920.

 p89  William R. Livermore
No. 2052. Class of 1865.
Died suddenly of heart failure, September 26, 1919, at the Army Hospital, Williams-Bridge, New York, aged 76 years.

The Civil and Military History of Colonel W. R. Livermore, as given herewith, has been compiled from the records of the War Department, the U. S. Engineers' Department, Cullum's History of the Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, Holden's Military History, and the Boston Transcript.

He was born in Cambridge, Mass., January 11, 1843. While a freshman at Harvard, he left that college in the spring of 1861 to enter, as a cadet at West Point, the class of 1865. He graduated No. 6, in June of that year, and was promoted in the Army to First Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers. He served as Assistant Engineer on the construction of fortifications of the Atlantic Coast until November, 1868, when he was granted a leave of absence to assist in laying a telegraph cable from the United States to Cuba. During the operation he was highly commended for recovering the cable, which had been lost, as was supposed, beyond recovery.

He was promoted to Captain of Engineers January 22, 1870; Major, March 12, 1884; Lieut.‑Colonel, July 5, 1898; Colonel, April 23, 1904. During these forty years he served with distinction in the construction of coast defences; in command of the Engineer Battalion; on  p90 Geodetic and Boundary Surveys; on River and Harbor Improvements; Lighthouse Work, and as a member of various Engineer Boards.

While on Lighthouse duty he made many important improvements in the Fog Signal system. In connection with Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.A. H. Russell, he invented several magazines and automatic guns, including the method of loading by clips.

In 1899 he was appointed Military Attache to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, and remained at Copenhagen until May, 1902. Upon returning to the United States he was assigned to duty on the Board of U. S. Engineers, New York. While serving on this Board from 1902 to 1906, he performed other duties, as a member of the Staff, Commanding General of the Department of the East, and as Engineer in charge of River and Harbor Improvements of New York and New Jersey. He was retired by operation of law, January 11, 1907, but was recalled to duty May 10, 1917, as Editor and Business Manager of "Professional Memoirs." He was again relieved from active duty June 30, 1919, and died September 26, 1919.

Colonel Livermore was a member of the American Historical Association; Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; member of the Massachusetts Historical Society; member of the Massachusetts Military Historical Society, and member of the American Antiquarian Society.

He was the author of many scientific and historical books, among them "American Kriegspiel;" "Manoeuvres for Infantry;" "Principles and Forms;" "Story of the Civil War," Part III in continuation of the Story of the Civil War by John C. Ropes; "Historical Atlas of the World," showing boundaries of states, tribes, etc., in Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, for every ten to twenty years in historic, and at longer intervals in prehistoric times; author of many articles for scientific and historical societies.

Livermore had a mind of great brilliancy, and was a man of diversified talents; he was not only an engineer of recognized accomplishments but was highly esteemed for his literary and scientific attainments; he was always a close student of military affairs, and made many valuable contributions to scientific warfare. In tribute to the memory of an old friend, to whom I was devotedly attached, my mind reverts to our cadet days, and the many incidents of his generous and manly disposition. Everybody who knew Livermore loved him and entertained the greatest admiration for his high toned character. Our association during cadet life was most intimate; we were in the same class, the same Company, and the same sections and were boon companions in the many little escapades which enlivened the monotony of the rigid discipline; I knew and esteemed him as a brother. As respects the intellectual side of his character, he had no equal in the class; he was the soul of honor; magnanimous to a fault. At times he  p91 displayed little eccentricities which, though harmless in themselves, served to mark his individuality. Always a hard student, while he mastered the course with ease and complete understanding, he devoted much time to the studies of history and ethnology.

His affection for and loyalty to his class was most intense, and it was largely due to his efforts that the installation of the first memorial class window in the cadet chapel was carried to a successful completion.

He greatly enjoyed Club society and was a member of the Century Club of New York, St. Botolph and Examiner of Bostonº and the Army and Navy of Washington,º addressing them frequently.

Although a profound scholar, he was not of the "dry as dust" type, but was a jovial good fellow, with the keenest sense of humor. His memory will be fondly cherished by all who knew him

Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.D. W. Payne.

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Page updated: 28 Aug 20