|Commanding General of the U.S. Army|
May 29, 1828 –June 25, 1841
|President|| John Quincy Adams |
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
|Preceded by||Jacob Brown|
|Succeeded by||Winfield Scott|
|Born||April 3, 1782|
|Died||June 25, 1841 59) (aged|
|Resting place||Congressional Cemetery|
|Relations|| William H. Macomb (son)|
Montgomery M. Macomb (grandnephew)
|Awards||Congressional Gold Medal|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1799–1800, 1801–1841|
|Commands|| 3rd Artillery Regiment |
Right Division of the Northern Army
Army Corps of Engineers
Commanding General of the United States Army
|Battles/wars||Battle of Plattsburgh|
Alexander Macomb // (April 3, 1782 – June 25, 1841) was the Commanding General of the United States Army from May 29, 1828, until his death on June 25, 1841. Macomb was the field commander at the Battle of Plattsburgh during the War of 1812 and, after the stunning victory, was lauded with praise and styled "The Hero of Plattsburgh" by some of the American press. He was promoted to Major General for his conduct, receiving both the Thanks of Congress and a Congressional Gold Medal.
Born at British-held Detroit in 1782, Macomb was the son of Alexander Macomb, a merchant and fur trader from upstate New York, and Mary Catherine Navarre, she of ethnic French descent.
He moved with his parents to New York City, where his father gained wealth as a land speculator, particularly in the millions of acres of New York land released by the federal government for sale after the Iroquois nations had been largely forced from the state into exile in Ontario following British defeat in the American Revolutionary War. The son received a classical education at Newark Academy in New Jersey.
In 1798, at the age of 16, Macomb joined a New York militia company. In January 1799, with the recommendation of Alexander Hamilton, he was commissioned a Cornet in the Regular Army during the French emergency.In March he was promoted to second lieutenant, and he was honorably discharged in June 1800.
In February 1801, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, 2d Infantry, serving as secretary to a commission that treated with the Indians of the Southeast.
He was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, which was established in 1802 at West Point to constitute a military academy. He was one of the first officers to receive formal training there.
For five years, Macomb directed construction of coastal fortifications in the Carolinas and Georgia. He also established fortifications at Fort Gratiot, Michigan, Chicago, Mackinaw, Prairie du Chien, St. Peter's, and St. Mary's in what was considered the Northwest area - Michigan and Illinois.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, in July 1812 Macomb was promoted at the age of 30 to colonel of the newly organised 3rd Artillery Regiment.
He was in command of the Sacketts Harbor garrison. Under Winfield Scott, he took part in the Capture of Fort George. He was part of James Wilkinson's failed St. Lawrence expedition.
He won acclaim during the War of 1812 as brigadier general in command of the Right Division of the Northern Army, responsible for defending the frontier of northern New York. At the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814, with only 1,500 regular troops and some detachments of militia, he was opposed by a British force of 10,531 men under Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost. Macomb's heavily outnumbered troops fell back before the British columns in a series of encounters as Prevost advanced towards the American defensive works.
In the weeks leading up to the battle, Macomb, knowing full well he would be greatly outnumbered, worked with his men to move trees and create fake roads; in order to obscure the genuine roads and lead the British into dead-end traps far from the three nearby American forts (a maneuver Macomb called abattis ).The British attack was diffused by these efforts. The long narrow lines of marching soldiers were unable to easily stop and about-face. They became entangled in the narrow false road maze, where they became targets for American ambush.
The British were about to launch an assault on the American defenses when the news came through of the defeat of the British naval squadron on Lake Champlain. Prevost needed the British Lake Champlain squadron to supply his planned advance into Vermont. Without it, he had no choice but to abandon the expedition. The British invaders returned to Canada.
Macomb was showered with praise and styled "the Hero of Plattsburgh" by some in the American press. He was promoted to major general for his conduct at this battle, and received the formal thanks of Congress and a Congressional Gold Medal.
When Major General Jacob Brown, the Army's commanding general, died in February 1828, Macomb was the senior brigadier general on the Army register, although, as the Army's chief of engineers, he was paid only at the rank of a colonel. President John Quincy Adams promoted him to commanding general of the Army with the rank of major general. — Winfield Scott and Edmund P. Gaines — had been vying for the position. Their quarrels over seniority had scandalized the Army and Adams bypassed them to offer the post to Macomb.The Army's two serving brigadier generals
The general's last active service in a theater of war was in the Seminole War in Florida, in 1835.
Macomb's tenure as Commanding General was marked by "continuing uncertainty about the responsibilities and authority of his position. To secure his seniority over Scott and Gaines, both two-star brevet major generals, Macomb added a provision in the 1834 regulations that 'the insignia of the major general commanding in chief should be three stars.' In the same document he sought to define his relationship to the Secretary of War and establish his primacy over the bureau chiefs, including his successor as Chief of Engineers. This was easier said than done. Most issues were not fully resolved until early the next century."
He advocated doubling Army strength, increasing enlisted pay, providing relief for some widows and orphans, and regularizing the officer retirement and replacement system. In 1840 the Army Corps of Engineers adopted the castle uniform insignia and first described the Corps of Engineers' distinctive Essayons button (Motto in French, meaning: "Let us try").
Macomb was succeeded by Major General Winfield Scott, who had worked "hard at mending fences in the intervening 13 years ..." within the Army.
In 1809, Macomb was the author of a seminal book (republished in 2006) on martial law and the conduct of courts-martial. It was the first book written on American procedures. During this period he was serving as a judge-advocate general (JAG) in the Army. He published a revised, updated book solely on courts martial in 1809.
He also wrote a play on the siege of Detroit by Ottawa chief Pontiac. It features Macomb's maternal grandfather, Robert Navarre, who helped defend the settlement. See Published Works and Further Reading, infra.
In addition, Macomb is recognized as an artist. His painting Detroit as Seen from the Canadian Shore in 1821, a watercolor and pencil work, is held by the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Macomb was the first of five Commanding Generals (Chiefs of Staff after the 1903 reorganization) who had held Engineer commissions early in their careers. All had transferred to other branches before being appointed to this top position. The others were George B. McClellan, Henry W. Halleck, Douglas MacArthur, and Maxwell D. Taylor.
Following the Battle of Plattsburgh and the end of the War of 1812, a Congressional Gold Medal honoring Alexander Macomb and his men was struck by Act of Congress (3 Stat. 247), to wit:
Obverse: MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDER MACOMB. Bust of Gen. Macomb, in uniform, facing the right FÜRST. F(ecit). indicates the engraver Moritz Fuerst (1782–1840), who designed several medals of 1812 heroes for the Philadelphia mint. The bust of Macomb found on the Congressional Medal, however, is reminiscent of the 1809 portrait of Macomb by Saint-Mémin (1770–1852), in which Macomb is wearing the undressed coat of blue with black velvet collar and cuffs typical of an Engineering officer.
Reverse: RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS NOVEMBER 3. 1814. The American army repulsing the British troops, who are striving to cross the Saranac river. To the left, Plattsburgh in flames; to the right, naval battle on Lake Champlain; in the distance, Cumberland Head. Exergue: BATTLE OF PLATTSBURGH September 11. 1814. FÜRST. F(ecit).
This was one of 27 Gold Medals authorized by Congress arising from the War of 1812.
Alexander Macomb is recognized by a Michigan Historical Marker installed at the corner of Gratiot Avenue and Macomb Street in Mount Clemens, Michigan, the county seat of Macomb County, named for him. It is Registered Site S0418, erected in 1974.It states:
In 1818 Territorial Governor Lewis Cass proclaimed the third Michigan county to be called Macomb. At that time the young General was Commander of the Fifth Military Department in Detroit. Born in that city in 1782, son of prominent local entrepreneurs, Macomb had entered the U.S. Army in 1799. He had gained national renown and honor during the War of 1812 for his victory at Plattsburgh in September 1814 over a far superior force of British invaders. Later as Chief Army Engineer he promoted the building of military roads in the Great Lakes area. From May 1828 to his death in June 1841, Macomb served as Commander in Chief of the Army. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. His birthday, April 3, is honored as Macomb County Heritage Day.
He is memorialized by several statues. One was sculpted by Adolph Alexander Weinman and erected in 1906 in downtown Detroit, Michigan.This statue was made from melted down cannons, and was a notable and monumental task. Another is in downtown Mount Clemens, Michigan, in front of the Circuit Court building at 40 N. Gratiot Avenue. Several others exist.
Macomb died while in office at Washington, D.C. He was originally buried at the Presbyterian Burying Ground, but in 1850 his remains were disinterred and he was reburied at Congressional Cemetery.
His remains, and those of his wife, Catherine, were disinterred again in June 2008 so that the brick-lined burial vault beneath their 6-ton, 13-foot-tall marble monument could be repaired to prevent its impending collapse. During the month it took to make the necessary repairs, the couple's remains were held at the Smithsonian; they were viewed by several of the general's descendants, including his great-great-great granddaughter. After the $24,000 repairs were completed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, their remains were re-interred on July 17, 2008.The monument to Alexander Macomb is "one of the most unusual in the nation."
During the 1820s, Macomb was a member of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.
His youngest son was Commodore William H. Macomb.
In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Alexander Macomb was named in his honor.See, List of Liberty ships: M-R.
In addition to the ship, Alexander Macomb has been the source for the name of a number of locations, communities, and institutions around the country, including:
An elementary school named after him in Detroit opened in 1929 and closed in 2009.
Macomb's effective dates of rank were:
Oliver Hazard Perry was an American naval commander, born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. As the best-known and most prominent member of the Perry family naval dynasty, he was the son of Sarah Wallace Alexander and United States Navy Captain Christopher Raymond Perry, and older brother of Commodore Matthew C. Perry.
The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final British invasion of the northern states of the United States during the War of 1812. An army under Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost and a naval squadron under Captain George Downie converged on the lakeside town of Plattsburgh, New York, which was defended by New York and Vermont militia and detachments of regular troops of the United States Army, all under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Macomb, and ships commanded by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough.
The Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown, was an American victory in the War of 1812 against Tecumseh's Confederacy and their British allies. It took place on October 5, 1813 in Upper Canada, near Chatham. The British lost control of Southwestern Ontario as a result of the battle; Tecumseh was killed, and his confederacy largely fell apart.
William Hull was an American soldier and politician. He fought in the American Revolutionary War and was appointed as Governor of Michigan Territory (1805–13), gaining large land cessions from several American Indian tribes under the Treaty of Detroit (1807). He is most widely remembered, however, as the general in the War of 1812 who surrendered Fort Detroit to the British on August 16, 1812 following the Siege of Detroit. After the battle, he was court-martialed, convicted, and sentenced to death, but he received a pardon from President James Madison and his reputation somewhat recovered.
Major-General Francis de Rottenburg, baron de Rottenburg was a military officer and colonial administrator who served in the armies of the Kingdom of France and later the United Kingdom.
Alexander Macomb (1748–1831) was an American fur trader, merchant and land speculator known for purchasing nearly four million acres from the state of New York after the American Revolutionary War. A Loyalist sympathizer, he operated from New York City after the war. His mansion in the city was used by President George Washington for several months in 1790 as the temporary president's mansion.
Jacob Jennings Brown was known for his victories as an American army officer in the War of 1812, where he reached the rank of general. His successes on the northern border during that war made him a national hero, and he was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
The siege of Detroit, also known as the surrender of Detroit or the Battle of Fort Detroit, was an early engagement in the British-U.S. War of 1812. A British force under Major General Isaac Brock with Native American allies under Shawnee leader Tecumseh used bluff and deception to intimidate U.S. Brigadier General William Hull into surrendering the fort and town of Detroit, Michigan, along with his dispirited army which actually outnumbered the victorious British and Indians.
Commodore William Henry Alexander Macomb was an officer in the United States Navy who served during the American Civil War.
Edmund Pendleton Gaines was a career United States Army officer who served for nearly fifty years, and attained the rank of major general by brevet. He was one of the Army's senior commanders during its formative years in the early to mid-1800s, and was a veteran of the War of 1812, Seminole Wars, Black Hawk War, and Mexican–American War.
The Battle of Lacolle Mills was fought on 30 March 1814 during the War of 1812. The small garrison of a British outpost position, aided by reinforcements, fought off a large American attack.
Benjamin Mooers was a military veteran of both the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and a politician, serving in the New York State legislature. He also served as a sheriff of Clinton County, New York in between the wars.
Thomas Macdonough, Jr. was an early-19th-century Irish-American naval officer noted for his roles in the first Barbary War and the War of 1812. He was the son of a revolutionary officer, Thomas Macdonough, Sr. who lived near Middletown, Delaware. He was the sixth child from a family of ten siblings and was raised in the countryside. He entered naval life at an early age, receiving a midshipman's commission at the age of sixteen. Serving with Stephen Decatur at Tripoli, he was a member of "Preble's Boys", a select group of U.S. naval officers who served under the command of Commodore Preble during the First Barbary War. Macdonough achieved fame during the War of 1812, commanding the American naval forces that defeated the British navy at the Battle of Lake Champlain, part of the larger Battle of Plattsburgh, which helped lead to an end to that war.
Azariah Cutting Flagg was an American newspaper printer and editor, and politician.
SS Alexander Macomb was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Alexander Macomb, the Commanding General of the United States Army from May 29, 1828, until his death on June 25, 1841. Macomb was the field commander at the Battle of Plattsburgh, during the War of 1812, and after the stunning victory, was lauded with praise and styled "The Hero of Plattsburgh" by some of the American press. He was promoted to Major General for his conduct, receiving both the Thanks of Congress and a Congressional Gold Medal.
Macomb Mountain is a mountain located in Essex County, New York. The mountain is named after Maj. Gen. Alexander Macomb (1782–1841), who won acclaim during the War of 1812 at the Battle of Plattsburgh, and served as Commanding General of the United States Army (1828–1841).
The Thanks of Congress is a series of formal resolutions passed by the United States Congress originally to extend the government's formal thanks for significant victories or impressive actions by American military commanders and their troops. Although it began during the American Revolutionary War, the practice peaked during the American Civil War. Similarly, the Confederate Congress also passed resolutions honoring extraordinary performance to individuals or military units.
Macomb is a surname that may refer to the following persons:
The Regiment of Riflemen was a unit of the U.S. Army in the early nineteenth century. Unlike the regular US line infantry units with muskets and bright blue and white uniforms, this regiment was focused on specialist light infantry tactics, and were accordingly issued rifles and dark green and black uniforms to take better advantage of cover. This was the first U.S. rifleman formation since the end of the American Revolutionary War 25 years earlier.
Where can you find troops more efficient than Morgan's riflemen of the Revolution or Forsyth's riflemen of the last war with Great Britain?
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alexander Macomb (American general) .|
Abimael Y. Nicoll
| Adjutant Generals of the U. S. Army |
April 28, 1812 – July 6, 1812 (acting)
Thomas H. Cushing
Walker Keith Armistead
| Chief of Engineers |
Jacob J. Brown
| Commanding General of the U.S. Army |