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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1831

Vol. I

(Born Md.)

William H. Emory

(Ap'd Md.)


William Helmsley Emory: Born Sep. 7, 1811, Queen Anne's County, MD.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1826, to July 1, 1831, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Artillery, July 1, 1831.

Served: in garrison at Ft. McHenry, Md., 1831‑32, — Ft. Severn, Md.,

(Bvt. Third Lieut., Mounted Rangers, June 16, 1832)

(Transferred to 4th Artillery, as Second Lieut., to rank from July 1, 1831)

1832, — Charleston harbor, S. C., 1832‑33, during South Carolina's threatened nullification, — Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., 1833‑34, 1834‑35, — and Ft. La­fayette, N. Y., 1835‑36; and in Operations in the Creek Nation, 1836.

Resigned, Sep. 30, 1836.

Civil History. — Civil Engineer, 1836‑38.

Military History. — Re-appointed in the U. S. Army with the rank of

First Lieut., Corps of Top. Engineers, July 7, 1838.

Served: on the improvement of Harbors in Delaware River, 1839, 1840‑42; as Assistant in Topographical Bureau, at Washington, D. C., 1843‑44; on Boundary Survey between the United States and the British Provinces, 1844‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑48, as Chief Topographical Engineer, and Acting Asst. Adjutant-General of Brig.‑General Kearny's Expedition to California, 1846‑47, being engaged in the Combat of San Pasqual, Dec. 6, 1846,​a — Skirmish at San Bernardo,

(Bvt. Capt., Dec. 6, 1846,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of San Pasqual, Cal.)

Dec. 7, 1846 — Passage of the San Gabriel River, Jan. 8, 1847, — Skirmish on the Plains of Mesa, Jan. 9, 1847, — and as Lieut.‑Colonel, Regiment

(Bvt. Major, Jan. 9, 1847, for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct
in the Battles of San Gabriel and Plains of Mesa)

of Maryland and District of Columbia Volunteers, 1847‑48; as

(Major, 3d Dragoons, Apr. 9, 1847: Declined)

Astronomer for the demarcation of the Boundary Line between California and Mexico, 1848‑53; as Commissioner and Astronomer to run the

(Captain, Corps of Top. Engineers, Apr. 24, 1851)

Boundary, under the Gadsden Treaty of Dec. 30, 1853, between the

(Major, 2d Cavalry, Mar. 3, 1855)

(Transferred to 1st Cavalry, May 26, 1855)

United States and Mexico, 1854‑57; on frontier duty at Ft. Riley, Kan.,

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Col., Oct. 19, 1857, for Valuable and Distinguished Services
as Commissioner for running the Boundary Line
between the United States and the Republic of Mexico)

 p482  1857‑58, during Kansas Disturbances,º — Utah Expedition, 1858, — Ft. Arbuckle, I. T., 1858‑59, — Scouting, 1859, — and Ft. Cobb, I. T., 1859; on leave of absence, 1859‑60; as Member of a Board to "revise the Programme of Instruction at the Military Academy," Jan. 12 to Apr. 24, 1860; and on tour of inspection in the Department of the Pacific, 1860‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861: in command

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 1st Cavalry, Jan. 31, 1861)

of the troops at Fts. Cobb, Smith, Washita, and Arbuckle, 1861, which he concentrated at the last named post, and with them captured the advance guard of the Rebel Texas forces, and then safely retreated to Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., which he reached May 31, 1861.

Resigned, May 9, 1861.

Re-appointed in the United States Army with the rank of

Lieut.‑Colonel, 6th Cavalry, May 14, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in recruiting and organizing his regiment at Pittsburg, Pa., July‑Aug., 1861; in the defenses of Washington, D. C., Aug. 16, 1861, to Mar. 10, 1862; in the

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Mar. 17, 1862)

Virginia Peninsular Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Mar.‑Aug., 1862, being engaged in the Siege of Yorktown, Apr. 5-May 4, 1862, — Battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1862, — Action of Hanover Court House,

(Bvt. Colonel, May 27, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Hanover C. H., Va.)

May 27, 1862, — and in command of brigade at Harrison's Landing, July, 1862; in command of the defenses of Yorktown, Aug.‑Sep., 1862; in organizing Infantry Division at Baltimore, Md., Oct.‑Nov., 1862; in the Department of the Gulf, Dec., 1862, to July, 1863, being engaged in the Attack on Port Hudson, Mar. 13, 1863, — Combat of Camp Bisland, La., Apr. 13, 1863, — Defense of New Orleans, June, 1863, — Repulse of enemy at Lafourche Crossing, June 21, 1863, — and Repulse of Rebels at Donaldsonville, La., June 27, 1862; in the Red River Campaign, Dec.,

(Colonel, 5th Cavalry, Oct. 27, 1863)

1863, to July, 1864, being engaged in the Combat of Sabin Cross Roads, Apr. 8, 1864, — Battle of Pleasant Hill, Apr. 9, 1864, — and Battle of Cane River (in command), Apr. 23, 1864; in command of 19th Army Corps, May 4, 1864, being engaged in the Combat of Marksville, May 16, 1864, — and in command of U. S. forces at Morganzia, June, 1864; transferred, with 19th Army Corps, to the defense of Washington, D. C.,

(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, July 23, 1864)

July, 1864; in pursuit of Rebels from Washington, D. C., to the Shenandoah River, Aug., 1864; in the Shenandoah Campaign, Aug.‑Nov., 1864, being engaged in the Battle of Opequan, Sep. 19, 1864, — Battle of

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Fisher's Hill,
and in the Campaign of Shenandoah Valley, Va.)

Fisher's Hill, Sep. 22, 1864, — and Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864; in permanent command of 19th Army Corps, Nov. 7, 1864, to Jan. 15,

(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Cedar Creek, Va.)

1866, in the Shenandoah Valley, and command of the Department of West Virginia, Sep. 25, 1865, to Jan. 15, 1866; awaiting orders, and on

(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Sep. 25, 1865)

 p483  Court-Martial, Jan.‑Mar., 1866; and in command of 5th Cavalry at Washington, D. C., Mar., 1866, to Oct., 1866.

Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Jan. 15, 1866.

Served: in command of District (subsequently changed to Department) of Washington, Oct. 11, 1866, to Aug. 14, 1868; as Member of Examining Board of Candidates for Promotion in the Army, 1866, — of Retiring Board, 1867, — and Cavalry Tactics Board, Aug. 14, 1868, to Apr. 26, 1869; in command of the District of the Republican, July 7, 1869, to Oct. 26, 1871, — and of Department of the Gulf, Nov. 28, 1871, to Mar. 27, 1875;​b awaiting orders, Mar.‑Oct., 1875; and as President of Retiring Board, Oct. 11, 1875, to July 1, 1876.

Retired from Active Service, July 1, 1876,
under the Law of June 26, 1876,
with the rank of Brigadier-General.

Died, Dec. 1, 1887, at Washington, D. C.: Aged 76.

Buried, Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Thayer's Notes:

a For Lt. Emory's actions at San Pasqual, see this page at the San Pasqual Battlefield website; and for his work as topographical engineer, DeVoto, The Year of Decision, pp349‑359 passim.

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b Among his duties in the Department of the Gulf was keeping the peace during the troubles of Reconstruction in New Orleans. On several occasions (August 1871, January 1872, January 1873, September 1874) he was success­ful in averting serious bloodshed between warring civilian factions there: the details are given by John Kendall, History of New Orleans, chapters 22 and 23, passim.

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Page updated: 22 Nov 21