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Civil War Soldiers - Viele

Viele, Egbert L., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born at Waterford, N. Y., June 17, 1825. He was graduated at the United States military academy June 17, 1847, when he joined the army under Gen. Winfield Scott at the seat of war in Mexico, and afterward served under Gen. Zachary Taylor. At the close of the Mexican war he was assigned to duty with his regiment on the Rio Grande, constructing a military road 125 miles long from Rio Grande city to Laredo, Tex. He was assigned by Gen. Worth to the command of a battalion of troops at the latter place and established Fort Mcintosh, still an important frontier post. After serving four years in campaigns against the Comanche Indians he resigned his commission and entered civil life as an engineer. He was appointed state engineer of New Jersey and conducted a geodetic survey of that state as the basis of the geological survey, which is the most thoroughly scientific work of the kind now extant, surpassing the celebrated ordnance survey of England and the topographical surveys of France and Austria. After having designed the original plan of the New York Central park he was appointed engineer-in-chief of that important work and subsequently designed the Prospect park of Brooklyn. On the breaking out of the Civil war he was captain of engineers in the well-known 7th N. Y. regiment and commanded a detachment of 300 men, which, with the steamer Daylight, opened the passage of the Potomac river to Washington, raised the Confederate blockade, and were the first troops to reach the national capital by that route. Upon arriving at Washington his command was met at the landing by President Lincoln and personally thanked by him for their courage. Subsequently he aided in the construction of Fort Runyon, the first fort erected by the Federal troops in the war. Having without solicitation been appointed brigadier-general of volunteers by President Lincoln, he organized a camp of instruction at Scarsdale for New York troops; was afterward assigned to duty with the expedition to the South Atlantic; was second in command of the land forces at the capture of Port Royal and chief in command at the investment and reduction of Fort Pulaski; following which he proceeded to Washington and accompanied the president, secretary of war and secretary of the treasury to Fortress Monroe, Va., where he planned and led the advance on Norfolk, and on its surrender became military governor, the arduous and responsible duties of which were performed with such satisfaction to the government that the secretary of war would not listen to his repeated application to be relieved to take the field with his troops. When the issue became certain and the final surrender of the Confederates a mere question of months, Gen. Viele resigned his command and returned to civil life, becoming one of the most active men in his profession, more especially in sanitary and municipal improvements. As a member of Congress from the city of New York he accomplished more in one term than many others have accomplished in six terms. Among other things the Harlem river improvement will be forever associated with his name. Gen. Viele died on April 22, 1902.

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

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