Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.
[decorative delimiter]

 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1822

Vol. I

(Born Ct.)

Joseph K. F. Mansfield

(Ap'd Ct.)


Joseph King Fenno Mansfield: Born Dec. 22, 1803, New Haven, CT.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, Oct. 1, 1817, to July 1, 1822, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., Corps of Engineers, July 1, 1822.

Second Lieut., Corps of Engineers, July 1, 1822.

Served: as Assistant to the Board of Engineers at New York, 1822‑25, — in the construction of Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1825‑28, — and of the defenses of Hampton Roads, Va., 1828‑30, being detached to survey Pasquotank River, N. C., and to take temporary charge of works in Charleston harbor, S. C., 1830; as Superintending Engineer of the construction of Ft. Pulaski, for the defense of Savannah River, Ga., 1830‑46,

(First Lieut., Corps of Engineers, Mar. 5, 1832)

— of repairs of Cumberland Road, Md., 1831‑32, — of Savannah River Improvement, 1833‑39, — of Inland Navigation between the St. Mary's and St. John's Rivers, Fla., 1835‑39, — of Sullivan's Island Breakwater, S. C., 1837‑38, — of repairs of St. Augustine Sea-wall, Fla., 1837‑38, —

(Captain, Corps of Engineers, July 7, 1838)

and of improvement of Brunswick harbor, Ga., 1838‑39; as Member of the Board of Engineers for Atlantic Coast Defenses, May 8, 1842, to Sep. 8, 1845; as Chief Engineer of the Army under command of Major-General Taylor, in the Campaign of 1846‑47, War with Mexico, being engaged in various reconnoissances in Texas, — Defense of Ft. Brown

(Bvt. Major, May 9, 1846,
for Gallant and Distinguished Services
in the Defense of Ft. Brown)

(constructed by him), May 3‑9, 1846, — Reconnoissance and Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, where he was severely wounded, Sep. 21,

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., Sep. 23, 1846,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct
in the Several Conflicts at Monterey, Mex.)

while directing the Storming of the Tannery Redoubt, — in fortifying Monterey and Saltillo, and reconnoitring the mountain passes, 1846‑47, — and Battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 22‑23, 1847; as Member of the

(Bvt. Colonel, Feb. 23, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct
in the Battle of Buena Vista, Mex.)

Board of Engineers for Atlantic Coast Defenses, Mar. 13, 1848, to Apr. 11, 1853, — and for Pacific Coast Defenses, Apr. 11 to May 28, 1853; as Superintending Engineer of the construction of Ft. Winthrop,  p277 Boston harbor, Mas., 1848‑53, — of improvement of the James and Appomattox Rivers, Va., — and survey of the Rappahannock, Va., 1852‑53;

(Col., Staff — Inspector-General, May 28, 1853)

on inspection of the Department of New Mexico, 1853, — of the Department of California, 1854, — of the Department of Texas, 1856, — of Utah Army, 1857, — of the Departments of Oregon and California, 1858‑59, — and of the Department of Texas, 1860‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑62: in Mustering Volunteers into service, at Columbus, Ohio, Apr. 19‑27, 1861: in command of the Department of Washington, Apr. 27 to July 25, 1861,

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, May 6, 1861)

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, May 14, 1861)

— and of the city of Washington, D. C., July 25 to Oct. 2, 1861; in command of Camp Hamilton, near Ft. Monroe, Va., Oct. 13 to Nov. 24, 1861, — of Newport News, Va., Nov. 24, 1861, to June 12, 1862, being engaged in the Capture of Norfolk, Va., May 10, 1862, — and of Suffolk, Va., June 27 to Sep. 3, 1862; and in command of division, Army of the

(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, July 18, 1862)

Potomac, in the Maryland Campaign, Sep. 10‑17, being engaged in the Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, where, while "at the head of his troops, with sword waving over his head, cheering on his men to victory," he was mortally wounded, and

Died of Wounds, Sep. 18, 1862, at Antietam, Md.: Aged 59.

Buried, Indian Hill Cemetery, Middletown, CT.

Biographical Sketch.

Brigadier‑General Joseph K. F. Mansfield, born Dec. 22, 1803, at New Haven, Connecticut, was descended from one of the earliest settlers of that Colony. He was the nephew of Colonel Jared Mansfield, the first Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at the U. S. Military Academy, from which institution he was graduated second in the class of 1822, his cousin, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George Dutton, being at the head. His services in the Corps of Engineers, to which he was promoted, are given in his foregoing "Military History," his principal work having been the construction of Ft. Pulaski, at the mouth of Savannah River, Ga., to which he devoted most of his time for about sixteen years.

In the War against Mexico, Mansfield, then a Captain, was the Chief Engineer of the Army commanded by Major-General Taylor. In the Campaign of 1846‑47, he directed the construction and aided in the defense of Ft. Brown, on the Rio Grande, May 3‑9, 1846; led the assault against the Tannery Redoubt at the Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, where he was severely wounded; and "planned the battle of Buena Vista," Feb. 22‑23, 1847, the success of which was in no small degree due to his military acumen and prompt decisions at critical moments. For his gallant and distinguished services at Ft. Brown, he was brevetted a Major; for the Battle of Monterey, a Lieut.‑Colonel; and for the Battle of Buena Vista, a Colonel.

After this war, till May 28, 1853, he was chiefly employed on the Board of Engineers for Atlantic and Pacific coast defenses. He then received the unsolicited appointment of Inspector-General, upon recommendation of the Secretary of War, who had witnessed his great services in Mexico. His new duties carried him to every part of the country, and required an examination into every branch of the military service. His last tour of inspection was in Texas, just before the outbreak of the Rebellion. Fully appreciating the impending crisis of the nation, he hurried to Washington to communicate his observations to the authorities of the Government, not yet roused to the imminent danger.

 p278  Mansfield was at once appointed a Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, and placed in command of the Capital to organize its defense and prepare for the coming catastrophe. Cautious by nature, and knowing that with raw levies we were not ready for an active campaign, he counseled prudence and delay, which not suiting the "On to Richmond" politicians, he was soon shorn of part of his command, and another summoned to try the fortunes of the battlefield.

Chafing under his unjust treatment, Mansfield sought by every honourable means a command in the field, and was greatly rejoiced at the prospect of active service when summoned to Washington upon the return of the Army of the Potomac from the Peninsula. But he seems to have had a premonition of his fate, for on leaving the Capital he wrote to a friend on parting; "I am going into battle; if I fall, have my body sent to my friends in Middletown, Ct."

Reaching the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, he was at once assigned to the command of the Twelfth Army Corps, which he led into action at Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, on the extreme right of the line of battle, in support of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Hooker's Corps, which was visibly melting away. Mansfield's division, mostly composed of raw troops, met a most galling fire from the defenders of Dunker Church. Seeing his men waver, he pressed forward where the battle was hottest, throwing the whole ardor of his soul into the conflict. His towering form and flowing white locks made him so conspicuous to the enemy that rider and horse soon fell, the former pierced by one and the latter by three minie balls. The General, mortally wounded, died the next morning, saying, "It is the Lord's will, and it is all right."

One who knew Mansfield most intimately, says of him: "He was ever active in the labors of a religious calling. His labors in the cause of education, too, were especially effective and noteworthy. At his house, during brief intervals of Army life, he made his influence felt, and impressed the nobleness of his character upon all around him; he loved the young, he loved to help them to education and accomplishment. He erected a building in Middletown for a young ladies' school, and supported it liberally. He was ever ready to help the needy, and often to the sacrifice of his own and his family's comfort. His sympathy was extended to all in affliction, and no needy one was ever turned away with an empty compliment; the name of citizen was dearer to him than that of soldier. His departure was ever watched with sadness, and his home-coming greeted with gladness.

"He took an active interest in all public questions, and was never bound by party affiliations; his judgment was clear, and his actions in all things were governed by his sense of duty. He gave himself entirely to the service of his country; whatever she required, that was law to him.

"The dangers of the frontier and of the battlefield were borne with a fearless Christian fortitude in the conscientious performance of this high sense of duty. It has been fitly said: —

" 'None who knew him could otherwise than honor him. There was a daily beauty in his life, and power in his example for good. He feared God, ever walked humbly before Him, and from the shock of battle his spirit went to Him in whom he trusted. He lived a useful and stainless life, and, crowning it with an act of heroic devotion, died in his country's service.' "

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 24 Feb 16