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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1831

Vol. I

(Born Pa.)

Bradford R. Alden

(Ap'd N. Y.)


Bradford Ripley Alden: Born May 6, 1811, Meadville, PA.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1827, to July 1, 1831, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

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

Served: in garrison at Ft. Brooke, Fla., 1832, — and at Ft. King, Fla.,

(Second Lieut., 4th Infantry, Sep. 15, 1833)

1832‑33; at the Military Academy, 1833‑36, 1837‑39, as Asst. Teacher of French, Aug. 13, 1833, to Jan. 8, 1836, — Asst. Professor of Mathematics, Jan. 8 to Sep. 8, 1936, — Asst. Instructor of Infantry Tactics, Sep. 8

(First Lieut, 4th Infantry, Sep. 13, 1836)

to Oct. 30, 1836, — Asst. Teacher of French, Aug. 28, 1837, to Aug. 13, 1838, — and Asst. Instructor of Infantry Tactics, Aug. 13, 1838, to June 24, 1839; on Recruiting service, 1839; at the Military Academy, 1839‑40,  p489 as Asst. Teacher of French, Sep. 12, 1839, to Feb. 7, 1840, — and as Asst. Instructor of Infantry Tactics, Feb. 7 to Sep. 14, 1840; as Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Scott, Sep. 3, 1840, to June 13, 1842; in garrison at

(Captain, 4th Infantry, June 14, 1842)

Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1842‑44; on frontier at Camp Salubrity, Natchitoches,º La., 1844‑45; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845; at the Military Academy, as Commandant of Cadets and Instructor of Infantry Tactics, Dec. 14, 1845, to Nov. 1, 1852; and on frontier duty, at Ft. Vancouver, Wash., 1853, — march to Scott's Valley, Cal., 1853, — and Ft. Jones, Cal., which, with its dependencies, he commanded; and as Acting Colonel commanding two battalions of Volunteers, which he had raised, on an Expedition to Southern Oregon against the Rogue River Indians, 1853, being engaged in a Combat near Jacksonville, Aug. 24, 1853, where he was severely wounded.

Resigned, Sep. 29, 1853.

Civil History. — Travelling in Europe, 1854‑57, for the restoration of his health, undermined by his wound. After his return, while on a visit to the place of his nativity, near the oil regions in Western Pennsylvania, he became satisfied, by his extensive explorations, of the abundance of Petroleum, and was among the first to appreciate the value of this great discovery; hence, as early as December, 1859, he commenced sinking oil wells by the Artesian method, of which, under his direction, forty-six were bored to depths of from six to seven hundred feet.

In 1861, though anxious to serve against the Rebellion of the Seceding States, he was compelled to desist from the attempt, because of disability caused by his wound received in Oregon in 1853.

Died, Sep. 10, 1870, at Newport, R. I.: Aged 59.

Buried, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA.

Biographical Sketch.

Colonel Bradford Ripley Alden was born, May 6, 1811, in Meadville, Pa., and died, Sep. 10, 1870, at Newport, R. I., aged 59.

Colonel Alden was the son of Major Roger Alden, of the Continental Army, who served under and was the friend of General Washington. Young Alden received an excellent English and Classical education, designing to enter Allegheny College, in his native town; but while yet a boy, his fatherº removed to West Point, N. Y., upon being appointed, January 20, 1825, the Military Storekeeper of that post, where were stored many of the relics of the Revolution. Here the junior Alden's inherited military tastes were so intensified by the daily pomp and circumstance of mimic war, that he secured a Cadet's appointment, and entered the Military Academy, July 1, 1827. Upon graduating, he was promoted, July 1, 1831, to the Fourth Infantry, with which he served two years in Florida, when he was ordered to the Military Academy, remaining there for seven years, doing duty as an instructor in the various departments of French, Mathematics, and Tactics. From Sep. 3, 1840, to Jan. 14, 1842, he became the Aide-de‑Camp to Major-General Winfield Scott, to whom he so endeared himself as to secure his warmest friendship during life, and after the General's death became his executor. Upon his promotion, June 14, 1842, to a Captaincy, he was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, and from thence accompanied his regiment to the Red River, and, 1845, in the military occupation of Texas.

Upon the earnest recommendation of the General-in‑Chief, he was appointed, Dec. 14, 1845, Commandant of Cadets at the U. S. Military Academy, which position he held with great credit to himself and advantage to the institution till Nov. 1, 1852. The graduates during these seven years will bear grateful testimony to the kindness of his heart, his  p490 high sense of justice, his sterling traits of character, and the moral tone he impressed upon his command. When relieved from West Point he was ordered to the Pacific Coast.

In 1853, while in command of Fort Jones, in northern California, a universal and formidable uprising of the Rogue River Indians in southern Oregon occurred. An appeal for aid was made to Captain Alden, who instantly repaired thither with his few regulars, though two hundred miles beyond his authorized jurisdiction. Finding his small detachment entirely inadequate to defend this picturesque valley against the large force of savages, he, without any orders except those of humanity, at his own expense, raised a battalion of volunteers, of which he was elected the Colonel. Near Jacksonville, Oregon, Alden encountered the hostile Indians, Aug. 24, 1853, defeating them after a severe combat; but he paid dearly for his victory, having received, while loading a musket, a terrible wound through the shoulder, penetrating the spine, which, soon after, produced partial paralysis, caused his resignation from the Army, Sep. 25, 1853, and finally terminated his life after seventeen years of suffering. The inhabitants of Rogue River were always enthusiastic in praise of Alden's prompt, gallant, and heroic services, which had saved that beautiful valley from the tomahawk and scalping knife.

After his resignation, Alden travelled much in Europe in the vain hope of re-establishing his health. Here, though the body was gradually failing, his head and heart were continually recruited from all the surroundings of nature, from living men, and memories of those living in dead centuries. His mind, aglow with the intellectual exuberance of life, was unceasingly gathering fresh knowledge; and his mental horizon continually enlarged, for everything was a stimulant and fertilizer to his aesthetic appetites. Few travelers learned more, enjoyed more, and profited more by their wanderings through the grand galleries of history and the gleaming glades of classic lore. Art, nature, pictures, and architecture were the daily food which nourished his eyes, senses, sensibilities, and appetites. Filled with all the fresh growths of the beautiful which had profited and perfumed his abode in Europe, he returned home laden with the choice treasures of intellect and perception. These, in ample measure, he poured out to hosts of admiring friends. His conversation, full of bright thought, mellowed by mature meditation, steeped in tenderness, and overflowing with the milk of human kindness, chained every listener. The charm of his companion­ship delighted you not only by the refinement of his sensibility and delicacy of his perceptions, but especially by the absence of all petty jealousy and spirit of intrigue. The stream of his life had never been muddied by the mire of detraction, for his heart was too pure to harm the humblest, or even disturb the happiness of an adversary. As Schiller said of Goethe: "He had a high truth and integrity, and was thoroughly in earnest for the Right and the Good."

In 1859, while on a visit to the place of his nativity, near the oil regions in western Pennsylvania, he became satisfied by his extensive explorations of the abundance of Petroleum, and was among the first to appreciate the value of this great discovery; hence he commenced sinking oil wells by the artesian method, of which, under his direction, forty-six were bored to depths of from six to seven hundred feet.

When the Rebellion began, in 1861, he first tried to re-enter the regular Army, then being increased by new regiments, but his old chief and sincere friend refused him a commission, well knowing that Alden's zeal was greater than his strength to serve his country. He then essayed to raise a regiment of volunteers, but broke down in the effort. At last he joined the staff of a general officer, only to find he could not ride on horseback because of his Oregon wound. Thus compelled to abandon all thoughts of taking the field, he went to the oil regions, where he amassed  p491 a handsome fortune, enabling him to spend the remainder of his days among his beloved books, in deeds of generous charity, in comforting the afflicted, and in gracing a wide circle of friends with his brilliant conversation on art, literature, science, and the animating themes of the day.

General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Alvord, who knew Alden intimately as a cadet and officer, justly says of him: "No man who ever lived possessed more heroic and noble traits of character. Imbued with decided religious principles from his earliest youth, his pure and genial Christian character was ever exhibited in numberless acts of benevolence, many of which were unknown to mortal eyes. Real want and misfortune were ever met by him with sympathy, and he had a heart as big as the rest of the world. Of polished manners and elegant tastes, he was highly accomplished in his knowledge of literature and art; extensive travel, with an observing mind, made him a charming companion. He has left behind him a pure, spotless fame, illustrating the highest qualities of the true American gentleman. The only difficulties his friends encounter in writing of his qualities is how to restrain the pen within moderate limits when attempting merely to do bare and simple justice to his memory."

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