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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1825

Vol. I

(Born Ky.)

Robert Anderson

(Ap'd Ky.)


Born June 14, 1805, near Louisville, KY.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1820, to July 1, 1825, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 2d Artillery, July 1, 1825.

Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 1, 1825.

 p348  Served: as Private Secretary to the U. S. Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the Republic of Colombia, Oct., 1825, to July, 1826; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va. (Artillery School for Practice), 1826‑28; on Ordnance duty, Mar. 6, 1828, to May 9, 1832; as Col., Staff (Asst. Inspector-General) of Illinois Volunteers, May 9 to Oct. 11, 1832, in the Campaign against the Sac Indians, under "Black Hawk," being engaged in the Battle of Bad Axe, Aug. 2, 1832; on Ordnance duty, Oct. 11, 1832, to Dec. 31, 1833; in garrison at Ft. Constitution, N. H.,

(First Lieut., 3d Artillery, June 30, 1833)

1834; on Ordnance duty, Dec. 6, 1834, to May 5, 1835; in garrison at Ft. Constitution, N. H., 1835; at the Military Academy, 1835‑37, as Asst. Instructor of Artillery, Sep. 10 to Dec. 1, 1835, — and Instructor of Artillery, Dec. 1, 1835, to Nov. 6, 1837; in the Florida War against the Seminole Indians, 1837‑38, — being engaged in the Action of Locha-Hatchee, Jan. 24, 1838, — Capture of forty-five Indians near Ft. Lauderdale

(Bvt. Captain, Apr. 2, 1838,
for Gallantry and Success­ful Conduct in the War against the Florida Indians)

(in command), Apr. 2, 1838, — and Skirmish in the Everglades, Apr. 24, 1838; in the Cherokee Nation, as Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Scott, May 9 to July 7, 1838, while transferring the Indians to

(Bvt. Capt., Staff — Asst. Adjutant-General, July 7, 1838, to Nov. 30, 1841)

the West; as Asst. Adjutant-General of Eastern Department, July 7, 1838, to July, 1841; on Board of officers to examine his translation of "Instruction for Field Artillery," 1841‑43 and 1844; in garrison at Ft.

(Captain, 3d Artillery, Oct. 23, 1841)

Moultrie, S. C., 1845‑46, — Ft. Marion, Fla., 1846, — and at Ft. Brooke, Fla., 1846‑47; in the War with Mexico, being engaged in the Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9‑29, 1847, — Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17‑18, 1847, — Skirmish of Amazoque, May 14, 1847, — and Battle of Molino del Rey, Sep. 8, 1847, where he was severely wounded in the Assault of the

(Bvt. Major, Sep. 8, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Molino del Rey, Mex.)

enemy's works; on sick leave of absence, disabled by wound, 1847‑48; in garrison at Ft. Preble, Me., 1848‑49; as Member of Board of Officers, 1849‑51, to devise "A Complete System of Instruction for Siege, Garrison, Seacoast, and Mountain Artillery," which was adopted May 10, 1851, for the service of the United States; in garrison at Ft. Preble, Me., 1850‑53; as Governor of Harrodsburg Branch Military Asylum, Ky., June 11, 1853, to Nov. 1, 1854; as Member of Board for the Armament of Fortifications, 1854‑55; as Inspector of Iron-work manufactured at Trenton, N. J., for public buildings constructed under the Treasury Department, July 20, 1855, to Nov. 15, 1859; as Member of a Board to

(Major, 1st Artillery, Oct. 5, 1857)

arrange the programme of Instruction at the Artillery School for Practice at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1859‑60, — and of the Commission created by Act of June 21, 1860, to examine into the Organization, System of Discipline, and Course of Instruction at the U. S. Military Academy, July 18 to Dec. 13, 1860; and in command of the defenses of Charleston harbor, S. C., 1860‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in Defense of Ft. Sumter, S. C. (to which he had transferred the garrison of Ft. Moultrie), Dec. 26, 1860, to Apr. 13, 1861, sustaining a heavy Bombardment of the work, Apr. 12‑13, 1861; in command of the Department  p349 of Kentucky, May 28 to Aug. 15, 1861, — and of the Department of the Cumberland, Aug. 15 to Oct. 8, 1861; in waiting orders, 1861‑63; in command of Ft. Adams, R. I., Aug. 19 to Oct. 27, 1863; and at New York city, on the Staff of the General commanding the Eastern

(Retired from Active Service, Oct. 27, 1863, for Disability resulting from Long and Faithful Service, and Wounds and Disease contracted in the Line of Duty)

Department, Oct. 27, 1863, to Jan. 22, 1869.

Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Feb. 3, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Harbor of Charleston, S. C.,
in the Defense of Fort Sumter.

Civil History. — Translator, from the French, of "Instructions for Field Artillery — Horse and Foot," for the service of the United States, 1840; and of "Evolutions of Field Batteries," 1860.

Died, Oct. 26, 1871, at Nice, France: Aged 66.

Buried, West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY.

Biographical Sketch.

Brevet Major‑General Robert Anderson, whose death occurred Oct. 26, 1871, at Nice, France, was born, June 14, 1805, at "Soldiers' Retreat," near Louisville, Ky. His father was a Colonel in the Revolutionary Army, and his mother a cousin of Chief Justice Marshall.

At the age of sixteen he entered the United States Military Academy, from which he was graduated July 1, 1825, in the same class with the eminent scientist, Professor Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.A. D. Bache, the able engineer, Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.T. S. Brown, the knightly soldier, General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.C. F. Smith, and others since known to fame. A few months after his promotion to the Third Artillery he accompanied a relative​a as private secretary to our Minister to the Republic of Colombia. On his return in 1826, he was ordered to the Artillery School for Practice at Ft. Monroe, Va., where he remained till 1828, being then placed on Ordnance duty, upon which he continued till 1832. Though only a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army, he received, May 9, 1832, the honorary appointment of Assistant Inspector-General, with the rank of Colonel of Illinois Volunteers, in the "Black Hawk War," and as such was engaged in the Battle of "Bad Axe" under General Atkinson. The war against the Sac Indians having terminated, he passed the following three years in the performance of garrison and ordnance duties, and the succeeding two at the Military Academy in giving instruction in the Department of Artillery. In 1837‑38, he served in the Florida War, was engaged in several sharp actions with the Seminoles, and for his "gallantry and success­ful conduct" during these hostilities was brevetted Captain, Apr. 2, 1838, the date of his capture of forty-five Indians, near Ft. Lauderdale. From May 9 to July 7, 1838, he was Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Scott during the emigration of the Cherokees to the west of the Mississippi, and at the latter date, on the re-organization of the staff of the Army, was made Assistant Adjutant-General, continuing on duty with General Scott at New York, the headquarters of the Eastern Department, till July, 1841, when he became a member of a board of officers to examine his own translation from the French of "Instruction of Field Artillery — Horse and Foot," which he had prepared for the service of the United States, and published in 1840. This work he supplemented in 1860 with a translation of "Evolutions of Field Batteries." He was promoted, Oct. 23, 1841, to a Captaincy of Artillery, preferring which he accepted his line, and relinquished his staff, appointment. Till 1847, he was engaged on board and garrison duties,  p350 and then joined his old commander in his great campaign in Mexico, continuing with him from the Siege of Vera Cruz till disabled by a severe wound received Sep. 8, 1847, in assaulting the enemy's works at Molino del Rey, where, for his "gallant and meritorious conduct," he was brevetted a Major. After recovering from his wound he was placed on garrison and artillery board duty till July 11, 1853, when he became Governor of the Branch Military Asylum at Harrodsburg, in his native State, an institution of which he was the founder.​b After holding this appointment till Nov. 1, 1854, he was put on various board and inspection duties till the autumn of 1860, in the mean time, Oct. 5, 1857, being promoted Major of the First Artillery. As Major Anderson, he will be best known to posterity, for with this title he was ordered to Charleston harbor in November, 1860, and here began his brief and conspicuous career of near five months, which was the crowning glory of his life.

The day after receiving orders for his new post, he sought an interview with the writer of this notice, who was familiar with all the defenses of Charleston harbor, who had carefully reconnoitred every approach to it by land and by water, and who understood the spirit and temper of South Carolina, — ever ready to dare all hazards to attain her cherished wishes, as she felt herself to be the brain of the South since the departed days of Virginia's mental might. This ambitious state, the writer was convinced, would lead the van of secession, and he believed that the focus of the movement would be her chief city, of whose defense Fort Sumter was the golden key. Thus persuaded, he advised Anderson to ask for ample garrisons for all his works, — one company for Castle Pinckney, four for Fort Sumter, and enough recruits to fill up the two then at Fort Moultrie. With these and proper armaments, peace in that quarter would be compelled, as it had been in 1832 by General Scott when nullification was threatened. Such an application was made to and rejected by the traitor Floyd, — the war minister of the vacillating and timorous Buchanan. This decision — the fit sequence of the same policy which had stripped our seaboard of troops, had sent batteries of Light Artillery to fight Indians on the frontier, had transferred arms from the North to equip its enemies, and had designedly placed most of the Regular Army under Southern commanders — the writer anticipated from Floyd's antecedents, and consequently advised Anderson not to hesitate a moment if not reinforced to abandon Fort Moultrie to a corporal's guard and occupy Fort Sumter with the remainder of his troops; he, as commanding officer of the whole harbor, having the right to distribute his force among the works as he might believe would best contribute to its defense.

Anderson, who, as ordered, had established his headquarters at Fort Moultrie, Nov. 20, 1860, two weeks after the meeting of the Legislature of South Carolina, called together in anticipation of Lincoln's election to the Presidency, wisely made his memorable move to Fort Sumter on the night of December 26, 1860, after all hope had vanished of any favorable response to his repeated entreaties for succor. During the intervening month of his occupation of Fort Moultrie, while his engineers were energetically employed in greatly strengthening this feeble work, events were fast culminating to a crisis. Congress had met, and the nerveless Buchanan, seized with political paralysis, had communicated his irresolute message that the Constitution delegated no power of coercing a State;​c the Catilines in the Capitol openly meditated the ruin of their country; the veteran Cass had thrown up his portfolio of Secretary of State, because overruled by the traitors kept in the Cabinet. South Carolina had passed her ordinance of secession, and the fatal step had been celebrated with demonstrations of frantic joy; terrorism was established throughout the South; Unionism had no abiding-place within the Cotton States; and  p351 amid all this wild tumult the ghost of brave old John Brown was marching on to the obsequies of human bondage.

The news of the occupation of Fort Sumter was received at the North with unbounded enthusiasm, and the praises of Anderson were on every loyal lip; while at the South it produced a paroxysm of anger, was the signal of an explosion of treason in the Cabinet at Washington, and the precursor of direful civil war. State after state soon committed the suicide of secession; the Southern conspirators, after uttering the most defiant threats, withdrew from Congress; forts and arsenals, left without garrisons, were seized; Southern commissioners dared to propose to the head of the nation the surrender of public property; the Montgomery usurpation was quickly enacted, with slavery as its corner-stone; much of the Regular Army and many frontier posts were basely put in the enemy's power by the treachery of the apostate Twiggs; the Navy was dispersed in distant seas, and revenue vessels in Southern waters transferred to rebel commanders; Buchanan's administration was fast setting in total eclipse; the noble Lincoln had become the Moses to lead his people through the wilderness of trial; and ere long even the national flag, borne by the Star of the West, was sacrilegiously fired upon by those who should have been its worshipers.

But amid all this momentous march of history, and the convulsive throes of the nation's agony, Anderson was in his sea-girt castle, cut off from all human aid, and abandoned to his fate. Weary days of active preparation for defense and nightly vigils against surprise had nearly exhausted his brave band of but eighty officers and men; every promontory and coigne of vantage bristled with hostile batteries, encircling him with destruction; and finally, his three and a half months of painful suspense terminated in the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the temporary triumph of the secession conspiracy. In his despatch to the Secretary of War, Anderson says: —

"Having defended Fort Sumter for thirty-four hours, until the quarters were entirely burned, the main gate destroyed by fire, the gorge-wall seriously injured, the magazine surrounded by flame, and its door closed from the effect of the heat, four barrels and three cartridges of powder only being available, and no provisions but pork remaining, I accepted the terms of evacuation offered by General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard, being the same offered by him on the 11th inst., prior to the commencement of hostilities, and marched out of Fort Sumter Sunday afternoon, the 14th inst. with colors flying and drums beating, bringing away company and private property, and saluting my flag with fifty guns."

Anderson has been severely criticised, even by military men, for his apparent indecision, and for so quickly surrendering his post; but is it just to charge him with all the consequences of the irresolution of the Government, which practically did nothing to extricate him from the snare of the fowler, and made his the Brennus sword to turn the trembling balance upon which hung the scales of peace or war? How different probably would have been the result if, instead of a trimming place-man anxious to avoid the responsibilities of high office, there had been seated in the Presidential chair in 1860 that brave old Roman who proclaimed in 1832 that "disunion by armed force was treason," and upon the instigators of the act would be the dreadful consequences, on their heads the dishonor, and on them the punishment meet for the commission of the most monstrous of human wrongs! How changed would have been the award of history if, instead of allowing a State to intimidate the nation, the wavering politician had boldly upheld the honor of his position, had refused all compromises with secession, had spurned any sacrifice of great principles to faction, and had replied to all disunion threats  p352 as did the noble Webster, that "the time had come to test the strength of the Constitution and the Government!"

The day after leaving Fort Sumter, Anderson with his little, tried band of seventy men sailed for New York, where he was most enthusiastically received, the city authorities marking their approbation of his services by conferring upon him the freedom of the city. Then followed the firing of the Southern heart, and the uprising of the North in national majesty. Four years of grim-visaged war ensued, and the Southern heart which had beat so wildly was stilled amid stupendous desolation. Anderson from the conquering North then came again to rear Fort Sumter's insulted flag upon its battered walls; to gaze upon Charleston, — a Tadmor in ruins, — over which the iron wings of the "Swamp Angel" had ceased to hover; and to hear the whole South weeping like Rachel for her children, who sent back from their graves no responsive cry.​d

President Lincoln, in recognition of Anderson's services, appointed him, May 15, 1861, a Brigadier-General in the Regular Army, and placed him in command of the Department of Kentucky, and subsequently of that of the Cumberland, which his shattered health compelled him to relinquish in the following October. From this time till his retirement from active service, Oct. 27, 1863, he performed no duty except for a short period in command of Fort Adams, Newport harbor, Rhode Island. However, to entitle him to full pay, the Government generously gave him a nominal position on the staff of the General commanding the Eastern Department, which continued until terminated by Army regulations and law. On Feb. 3, 1865, he was brevetted a Major-General "for gallant and meritorious service in the harbor of Charleston, S. C., in the defense of Fort Sumter."

In 1870 he went abroad, first to Dresden, then to Tours, and finally to Nice, hoping for relief in the mild, congenial climate of Southern France; but his health was so broken by his long service and severe wound in the Army, and his constitution so shattered by the hardships and anxiety he had endured at Fort Sumter, that death in his sixty-seventh year at last came to end his sufferings.

Anderson, though possessing professional judgment and fair intelligence, had more of the elements of moral than mental greatness. He was conscientious and zealous in the discharge of every duty; sterling integrity and high honor characterized his every action; and scrupulous truth and unswerving fidelity marked his whole intercourse. He was ever a reliable and loyal soldier, a kind and just commander, a courteous and genial gentleman, a pure and devout Christian, a warm and generous friend, a tender and faithful husband, and the gentle and loving parent. He was always a popular and respected officer in the Army; a general favorite among men, who admired his frank and manly manner; and by women especially esteemed for his sincerity of heart, and the religious tone of all his utterances.

"Generous as brave,

Affection, kindness, the sweet offices

Of love and duty, were to him as needful

As his daily bread."

Thayer's Notes:

a "A relative" seems unnecessarily coy: Richard Clough Anderson, Jr. (1788‑1826), who died at his post in Colombia, of yellow fever, was his brother. He had been a Kentucky State Representative from Jefferson County, and Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives; as well as U. S. Representative from the 8th District of Kentucky. Those who collect uncles will get a bonus: the Anderson brothers were also nephews of George Rogers Clark.

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b Not mentioned, though it should have been, is that not only did Maj. Anderson found the Branch Military Asylum at Harrodsburg, but he was, with Winfield Scott and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jefferson Davis, largely responsible for the establishment of the National Soldiers' Home in Washington, D. C.; conducting a campaign in which he pressed for the introduction of the bill in Congress, circulating petitions, etc. The house at the core of the facility, though built slightly before the Soldier's Home itself, and now referred to as the Lincoln House (Lincoln having been one of several presidents who used it as a getaway from the Executive Mansion), was known at the time as the Anderson Cottage.

Somewhat similarly, Gen. Anderson is credited — by a formal motion made by Gen. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Tillman and carried at the 1919 Annual Reunion of the Association of Graduates — as "the suggester and a founder of the Association."

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c Unfortunately for Cullum's tirade — which, it will be noted, has very little to do with the subject of the biographical sketch — this is true: there is not one word in the Constitution about States leaving the Union, and that same document explicitly lays down the principle that powers not mentioned in it are reserved to the States; there is certainly nothing in the Constitution about compelling States to remain in the Union. Far from "irresolute", Buchanan's affirmation of the Constitutional principle was courageous, faced as he was with the rabid partisans of coercion, truculent in their superiority of population and resources. The War between the States should never have happened, and was shameful on both sides: that it should have been fought to preserve the loathsome institution of slavery (let Southern apologists explain away the patent fact), and that the rule of law as embodied in the American Constitution should have been overthrown by force. In the end, both sides got, sadly, what they deserved.

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d Whatever we think about the rest of Cullum's vigorous opinions, I hope we draw the line at gloating over the dead. Rachel wept in the North, too: the rush to war killed something like 364,000 Northerners and 260,000 Southerners; on both sides, women and children, civilians and brave soldiers.

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