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Civil War Soldiers - Weitzel

Weitzel, Godfrey, major-general, U.S. Army, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 1, 1835. At the West Point military academy he was graduated on July 1, 1851, and attached to the engineer corps. For the next four years he assisted in the construction and repairs of the fortifications guarding the approaches to New Orleans, La., and the following year was an assistant professor of engineering at the military academy. In the spring of 1861 he was attached to the engineer company which was on duty at Washington during the dark days which immediately preceded and succeeded the inauguration of President Lincoln. He was then ordered to Fort Pickens, Fla., arriving just in time to aid in preventing its seizure by the Confederates. In Oct., 1861, he became chief engineer on the staff of Brig.-Gen. Mitchel to fortify Cincinnati, Ohio, and in December took command of a company of sappers and miners in the defenses of Washington city. Being familiar with the approaches to New Orleans, he was appointed chief engineer of Gen. Butler's expedition to capture that city. No little part of the success of the land attack was due to Weitzel, who planned it. Butler, recognizing the high merits of his young engineer, made him military commander and mayor of the place. Soon afterward he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers and placed in command of the forces in the successful La Fourche campaign of 1862, where he won the brevet of major, U. S. A., for his gallantry in the battle of Thibodeaux. He then took command of the advance of Gen. Banks' operations in western Louisiana, and soon afterward of a division in the siege of Port Hudson, where he was engaged in two assaults on the place, receiving for his meritorious services the brevet of lieutenant-colonel. In the 19th army corps he took a conspicuous part in the La Fourche campaign and Sabine Pass expedition of 1863, and after these repeated successes in Louisiana was ordered to take part in the operations before Richmond. As chief engineer of the Army of the James he was engaged in the actions at Swift creek and near Drewry's bluff, and constructed the defenses of Bermuda Hundred, James river and Deep Bottom. For his activity and gallantry here he was rewarded with the brevet of major-general of volunteers and given command of the 18th army corps, with which he aided in repelling the enemy's assault on Fort Harrison and took part in the attack on the Confederate intrenchments on the Williamsburg and Nine-mile roads, for which meritorious service he received the brevet of colonel, U. S. A., and the promotion to major-general of volunteers. At the head of the 25th army corps he was second in command of the first expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C. Upon his return he took charge of all the troops north of the Appomattox river during the final operations against Richmond, of which city he took possession on April 3, 1865, and announced the triumph in his brief telegram: "We entered Richmond at 8 o'clock this morning:" the news sending a thrill of exultation throughout the loyal North. Although Weitzel had received four brevets in the Civil war and had risen from a lieutenant of engineers to major-general of volunteers, he was, on the termination of hostilities, awarded two more brevets, those of brigadier- and major-general, U. S. A., and placed in command of the Rio Grande district, Tex., pending the government's demand that Maximilian and his European allies should promptly evacuate Mexico. The Southern uprising having been suppressed, Weitzel was mustered out of the volunteer service and resumed his proper corps duties. He died at Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 1884.

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

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