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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1819

Vol. I

(Born N. Y.)

Henry Brewerton​1

(Ap'd N. Y.)


Born Sep. 25, 1801, New York, NY.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 25, 1813,º to July 1, 1819, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., Corps of Engineers, July 1, 1819.

Second Lieut., Corps of Engineers, July 1, 1819.

 p208  Served: as Assistant in determining the 45° of North Latitude, at Rouse's Point, N. Y., 1819;​a at the Military Academy, 1819‑21, as Asst. Professor of Engineering, Sep. 1, 1819, to Aug. 1, 1820, and as Principal Asst. Professor, Aug. 1, 1820, to June 30, 1821; as Asst. Engineer in the construction of Ft. Delaware, Del., 1821‑22, — of repairs of Ft. Jackson, Savannah River, Ga., 1823, — to Board of Engineers, in repairing fortifications in New York harbor, 1822‑24, — and in the construction of Ft. Jackson, Mississippi River, La., 1824‑27, and of Ft. Adams, Newport

(First Lieut., Corps of Engineers, Jan. 1, 1825)

harbor, R. I., 1827‑28; as Superintending Engineer of the construction of the defenses of Charleston harbor, S. C., 1828‑32, — of the Cumberland Road in Ohio, 1832‑36, — of improvement of the Hudson River, N. Y., 1836‑42, — and of the building of Ft. Montgomery, Rouse's Point, N. Y.,

(Captain, Corps of Engineers, Sep. 21, 1836)

1841‑45; as Member of a Special Board of Engineers for projecting Light-house at Flynn's Knoll, New York harbor, 1839, — of the Board of Visitors to the Military Academy, 1843, — of the Board of Engineers for Atlantic Coast Defenses, Dec. 8, 1842, to Sep. 8, 1845, — and of special Board of Engineers for examination of Florida Reef, for locating defensive works, 1845; as Superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy, Aug. 15, 1845, to Sep. 1, 1852; as Member of a Commission to digest a Code of Regulations for the U. S. Naval Academy, 1849; as Superintending Engineer of the construction of Ft. Carroll, Patapsco River, Md., 1852‑64, —

(Major, Corps of Engineers, Aug. 23, 1856)

and of improvement of Baltimore harbor, and of Mouth of Susquehanna River, 1852‑64; and Member of Board of Engineers for the Improvement of Rivers and Harbors, Apr. 11, 1853, to Nov. 20, 1853, — and of a Special Board for projecting Fortifications at Sandy Hook, N. J., 1858.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: as Superintending Engineer of the Fortifications and Improvements of Baltimore harbor, Md., 1861, to Nov. 5, 1864, — of the defenses of Delaware

(Colonel, Corps of Engineers, April 22, 1864)

River and bay, Mar. 5, 1862, to Nov. 5, 1864, — of the erection of Field Works at Point Lookout, Md., Nov. 8, 1864, to May 4, 1865, — and of the construction of Fts. Monroe and Wool, for the defense of Hampton Roads, Va., Nov. 8, 1864, to Feb. 20, 1870.

Served: as Member of the Board of Engineers, June 20, 1865, to May 18, 1867, to carry out in detail the modification of the defenses in the vicinity of New York, as proposed by the Board of Jan. 27, 1864, —

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Long, Faithful, and Meritorious Service)

of Board for the Examination of Engineer Officers for Promotion, Nov. 28 to Dec. 16, 1865, — and of Board to conduct experiments on the use of Iron in Permanent Defenses, Sep. 11, 1866, to May 18, 1867.

Retired from Active Service, Mar. 7, 1867, under the Law of July 17, 1862, "having been Borne on the Army Register more than 45 Years."

Civil History. — Degree of LL. D. conferred by Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., July 8, 1847.

Died, April 17, 1879, at Wilmington, Del.: Aged 77.

Buried, Island Cemetery, Newport, RI.

 p209  Biographical Sketch.

Bvt. Brigadier-General Henry Brewerton was born, Sep. 25, 1801, in the city of New York. Before he was twelve years old he was appointed a Cadet, through the influence of his guardian, Governor Tompkins. Upon graduating from the Military Academy, July 1, 1819, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, and rose through every grade, except the highest. During a service of nearly half a century, he was employed in a great diversity of duties, enumerated in his foregoing Military History.

"To these duties he devoted," says General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Tower, in an obituary notice, "all his skill and energy, with a patient application which neither fatigue, nor even indisposition, could arrest. What he could accomplish himself was never imposed on others, — a self-sacrificing habit that did not fail to bring over-work, resulting ultimately in physical ailment. By nature robust, temperate, and prudent in his habits, he attained a ripe old age in spite of the severe tests to which he had subjected his capacity for endurance. In fact, he was one of those men who scarcely thought he could do enough, and never too much, for the country that had generously educated him, and opened up to him an honorable profession. Influenced by sentiments so creditable, sound in physique, thoroughly educated, with great powers of continued mental application, he could not fail to leave the impress of an honorable and success­ful record upon the corps and army to which he belonged. The Corps of Engineers was in its infancy when he entered it. Its numbers were small, but its duties were co-extensive with the country. Such officers as Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Totten, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thayer, Bernard, and others — of a later date nearer his own age — were laboring with great zeal and assiduity to give to it character and reputation, and a representation among similar corps of the Old World, as well as practical usefulness at home, commensurate with the wants of the young republic, whose defenseless condition had as yet received from the art and science of the engineer little aid. The then recent war, while revealing the latent energies and courage of the people, had demonstrated the necessity for frontier and coastwise defense, and the engineers of the army, men of mark, some of whom had served with honorable distinction in the recent struggle, were working out and elaborating a system of fortifications for that end. Among the younger officers taking part in the important duties thus devolving upon the Corps, no one brought to their execution greater zeal or more intelligent application than Lieut. Brewerton. His vigorous health, however, could not withstand continuous exposure in the malarial regions of the Mississippi Delta, which seldom spares the unacclimated. After about three years' service there, prostrated by what was then known as the black plague, he was compelled to return to the more genial climate of the North for recuperation. After a short service at Newport, he passed from the sphere of the assistant to the full charge of the works under construction in Charleston harbor, S. C., a position to which his experience and his merits fully entitled him. The experience of three summers in this new field of duty again prostrated him, and he barely escaped with life an attack of the fever of the rice plantations, almost always fatal to strangers. Henceforth, in a more healthy portion of the country, assigned to the charge of various important constructions, he adapted himself to each with facility and a versatility that attested his preparation and his aptitude for his profession.

"In his seven years' service at Superintendent of the Military Academy, his Alma Mater, he could do little more than maintain its prestige as established by the 'Father' of the Institution. That he held it to a standard so high, demonstrated his fitness for the command, — well understood  p210 by graduates to exact qualifications of no ordinary character. Watchful over its every interest, whether pertaining to its scientific teachings, its military discipline, or the manly development of the Corps of Cadets; never flagging in his important trust, he examined personally, with patient deliberation, every question that came up for solution, allowing no details of administration, however minute, to escape his attention. Though kind and considerate to the Cadets, upon whom he was obliged to enforce a rigid discipline, he won their affections and esteem by a strictly just and impartial treatment, rather than by leniency. Those who were educated at the Academy during his administration will recollect him, living, as a courtly gentleman of high tone and fine personal presence, — a type of the genial, refined soldier, worthy of imitation. Dead, they will recall his memory as a kind friend who watched over their youth with fatherly affection.

"General Brewerton was no exception to the rule, that the strongest physical constitution will yield when overtasked. Though he served faithfully and efficiently, filling important trusts for fifteen years after leaving West Point in 1852, it was evident that his health was much impaired, though not to prevent his performance of duty up to the date of his retirement in 1867, after forty-eight years of service.

"A representative officer of his day, whose sense of duty was ever foremost in thought and act, — one of the pioneers in the Corps of Engineers, — his life service illustrated and was a part of its history; while personally he was esteemed and beloved as one of its most useful, able, and worthy members.

"During the years 1859 and 1860, General Brewerton visited various portions of the Old World, for the benefit of his health in part, but more as a release from care and work, from which there had been scarcely a respite since boyhood. It was an entire change of life to him, bringing freedom and mental rest."

Upon his return from abroad, Brewerton resumed his Engineer duties at Baltimore, Md. Though the fire and zeal of youth was still alive in him, age and broken health prevented his actively participating in the Civil War.

With the brevet of Brigadier-General for his "long, faithful, and meritorious services," he was retired, Mar. 7, 1867, to spend the twelve remaining years of his life in the quiet seclusion of his home.

The Author's Note:

1 Was examined and graduated with the Class of 1819, though at the time a member of, and at the head of, the succeeding Class.

Thayer's Note:

a An important task since the latitude determined the border with Canada at Rouse's Point — and three years before, construction had started on a fort which turned out to be in Canadian territory: an expensive mistake, not to be repeated. See the article at FortWiki for details.

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Page updated: 5 Jan 14