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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1848

Vol. II

(Born N. Y.)

Robert S. Williamson

(Ap'd N. J.)


Robert Stockton Williamson: Born 1824 or Jan. 21, 1825.º

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1844, to July 1, 1848, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., Top. Engineers, July 1, 1848.

Served: as Asst. Topographical Engineer on Survey of Military Reservation, at Ft. Ripley, Min., 1848, — and on Surveys on the Pacific Division, 1848‑53; in charge of Survey of Pacific Railroad route in California, in

(Second Lieut., Top. Engineers, Oct. 26, 1853)

connection with the routes near the 32d and 35th parallels, 1853‑54, — and of routes in California and Oregon, 1855‑56; and on the Staff of the

(First Lieut., Top. Engineers, Apr. 30, 1856)

Commanding General of the Department of the Pacific, together with charge of Military Roads in Southern Oregon, and Meteorological Observations and Barometric Experiments​a on the Pacific Coast, 1858‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in

(Captain, Top. Engineers, Aug. 6, 1861: Corps of Engineers, Mar. 3, 1863)

making Reconnoissances of the Lower Potomac, Oct. 14, 1861, to Mar., 1862; in Operations in North Carolina, as Chief Top. Engineer, Mar. 8 to Aug. 9, 1862, being engaged in the Capture of Newberne, Mar. 14,

(Bvt. Major, Mar. 14, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in Action at Newberne, N. C.)

1862, — Bombardment and Capture of Ft. Macon, Apr. 25, 1862, — and

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., Apr. 26, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Siege of Ft. Macon, N. C.)

constructing defenses at Newberne, May to Aug., 1862; in Operations about Falmouth, Va., Aug.‑Sep., 1862; in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Sep. to Nov., 1862; and as Chief Top. Engineer of the Army of the Potomac, Nov. 21 to Dec. 21, 1862, — and of Department  p347 of the Pacific, Feb. 9 to Mar. 3, 1863, continuing on Topographical duties on the staff of the Commanding General, Mar. 3, 1863,

(Major, Corps of Engineers, May 7, 1863)

to Dec. 13, 1865; Asst. Engineer on the Defenses of the Pacific, May 9, 1863, to Jan. 23, 1866.

Served: as Light-house Engineer of Twelfth District, Feb. 9, 1863, to May 1, 1872, and Oct. 1, 1873, to Jan. 21, 1882, — and of Thirteenth District to Mar., 1871; as Superintending Engineer of various surveys of rivers, harbors, and sites for fortifications on the Pacific coast, Jan. 23, 1866, to May 1, 1872, — and of Improvement of San Francisco Harbor, July 21, 1866, to Dec., 1867, and of Willamette River, July 21, 1866, to Mar. 31, 1871; as Member of the Pacific Board of Engineers, Dec. 4,

(Lieut.‑Colonel, Corps of Engineers, Feb. 22, 1869)

1866, to Dec., 1869, and Jan., 1876, to June 23, 1882, — of Commission to Examine Central Pacific Railroad, Feb., 1868, to Nov., 1869,​a — and of Board on Improvement of Entrance to Humboldt Bay and Eureka Harbor, Cal., Aug. to Sep., 1871; and on sick leave of absence in Europe, May 20, 1872, to Sep. 10, 1873.

Retired from Active Service, June 23, 1882, for Disability contracted in Line of Duty.

Died, Nov. 10, 1882, at San Francisco, Cal.: Aged 58.

Buried, Masonic Cemetery, San Francisco, CA.

Thayer's Notes:

a These experiments were important enough to be mentioned by Florian Cajori, the noted historian of science, in his article on the "History of Determinations of the Heights of Mountains" (Isis, Vol. 12 No. 3, Dec. 1929), p511. The results of Major Williamson's investigations were published as Professional Paper No. 15 of the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, "On the Use of the Barometer on Surveys and Reconnaissances: Part I, Meteorology in connection with Hypsometry. Part II, Barometric Hypsometry" (New York, D. Van Nostrand, 1868; 248pp). An abridged version, minus the many plates, was published by U. S. Government Printing Office, and is available online at Archive.Org.

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b Mount Williamson in the Sierra Nevada, California, the sixth-highest mountain in the lower forty-eight States, is named after him.

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