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Civil War Soldiers - Totten

Totten, Joseph G., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 23, 1788, graduated at West Point in 1805, as second lieutenant of engineers, and remained in the service until March, 1806, when he resigned and went into civil life, from which he again entered the army in 1808. Promoted to be a first lieutenant in 1810 and captain in 1812, he was chief engineer of the army on the Niagara frontier in the campaigns of 1812 and 1813, being brevetted major "for meritorious services" in June, 1813. He became chief engineer of the army on Lake Champlain in the campaign of 1814, and was brevetted lieutenant-colonel Sept. 11, 1814, "for gallant conduct at the battle of Plattsburg." Passing through the successive grades of major and lieutenant- colonel in his own corps, he became colonel and chief engineer on Dec. 7, 1838. From 1816 to 1838, with but an intermission of two years, he was a member of the board of engineers for planning the national defenses. During the Mexican war he served as chief engineer of the army under Gen. Scott until the capture of Vera Cruz, conducted the siege operations against that place, and was brevetted a brigadier- general "for gallant and meritorious conduct" on that occasion. Subsequently he resumed his duties as chief engineer, continuing in their performance with but two short intervals until his death. The fortifications of Newport, R. I., were built under his immediate supervision, and with other defenses and fortifications are enduring monuments to his memory. In the first days of the Civil war Gen. Scott urged upon Gen. Totten the acceptance of the position of commander-in-chief, which the latter declined on account of physical inability for field service. During the period of 26 years in which Gen. Totten stood at the head of the engineer department, he discharged his varied duties with untiring devotion, spotless integrity and signal ability, as an acknowledgment of which the president, upon hearing of his serious illness, forwarded his commission as brevet major-general, U. S. A. He had been commissioned brigadier-general in the regular army March 3, 1863. Gen. Totten died at Washington, D. C., April 22, 1864.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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