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Civil War Soldiers - Wessells
|Wessells, Henry W., brigadier-general,
U.S. Army, was born in Litchfield, Conn., Feb. 20, 1809. After he was
graduated at West Point in 1833 he took part in the Seminole war of
1837-40, first as a second lieutenant of infantry and then as first
lieutenant, being promoted on July 7, 1838. In Gen. Scott's Mexican
campaign he was promoted captain and received the brevet of major for
gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco. In the former contest Capt.
Wessells, though wounded, seized the regimental flag on the death of
the color-sergeant and put himself at the head of his men. On his
return from the war the state of Connecticut voted him a jeweled
sword, which was presented to him with military ceremonies. Capt.
Wessells was on the Pacific coast in 1849-54, and was in the Sioux
expedition of 1855, after which he served in the Northwest till the
Civil war. On June 6, 1861, he was promoted major, and on Aug. 22 of
that year he received the colonelcy of the 8th Kan. infantry. After
serving on the Missouri border he resumed his commission in the
regular army Feb. 15, 1862, and in March was transferred to the Army
of the Potomac. He was made a brigadier-general of volunteers April 25
and served in the Peninsula, receiving the regular army brevet of
lieutenant-colonel for gallantry at Fair Oaks, where he was wounded.
In McClellan's change of base he commanded the rear-guard, and then
engaged in the defense of Suffolk, Va., afterward serving in North
Carolina. After serving at Kinston, Goldsboro, and New Berne, he was
placed over the sub-district of the Albemarle, taking command May 3,
1863. On April 17, 1864, he was attacked at Plymouth, N. C., where he
had a garrison of about 3,000 men, by Gen. Robert F. Hoke with about
15,000 Confederate troops and the iron-clad "Albemarle." After a
gallant defense which lasted three days Gen. Wessells surrendered the
town. He was taken to Libby prison, whence he was transferred
successively to Danville, Macon and Charleston. At the last-named
place he was one of the officers that were placed under the fire of
the Union batteries on Morris island. On Aug. 3, 1864, he was
exchanged, and on Nov. 11 he became commissary of prisoners, which
post he held until the close of the war. He was promoted
lieutenant-colonel Feb. 16, 1865, and brevetted colonel to date from
April 20, 1864, "for gallant and meritorious services during the rebel
attack on Plymouth, N. C." On March 13 he was given the regular army
brevet of brigadier- general. He then served on the northwestern
frontier till Jan. 1, 1871, when he was retired. After that time he
resided in his native place, but at the time of his death he was on a
visit to Delaware. Gen. Wessells died in Dover, Del., Jan. 12, 1889.
Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal
States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908