Alexander Stewart Webb
|2nd President of City College of New York|
|Preceded by||Horace Webster|
|Succeeded by||John Huston Finley|
|Born||February 15, 1835|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 12, 1911 75) (aged|
Riverdale, Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||West Point Cemetery|
Anna Elizabeth Remsen
(m. 1855;his death 1911)
|Relations|| William Webb (brother)|
Henry Webb (brother)
|Parents|| James Watson Webb |
Helen Lispenard Stewart
|Alma mater||United States Military Academy|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
|Allegiance||United States (Union)|
|Branch/service||U.S. Army (Union Army)|
|Years of service||1855–1870|
|Commands|| Philadelphia Brigade |
2nd Division, II Corps
|Battles/wars|| Seminole War |
American Civil War
Alexander Stewart Webb (February 15, 1835 – February 12, 1911)was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War who received the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, he was a prominent member of New York Society and served as president of the City College of New York for thirty-three years.
The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.
During the American Civil War, the Union Army referred to the United States Army, the land force that fought to preserve the Union of the collective states. Also known as the Federal Army, it proved essential to the preservation of the United States as a working, viable republic.
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.
Alexander Webb was born in New York City on February 15, 1835, to a prominent family with a strong military lineage. He was the son of Helen Lispenard (née Stewart) Webb and James Watson Webb, a former regular army officer who was a well-known newspaper owner and diplomat (serving as U.S. Minister to Brazil in 1861).After his mother's death in 1848, his father remarried to Laura Virginia Cram, with whom he also had several children, including William Seward Webb, a doctor and financier who was married to Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt (granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt), and Henry Walter Webb, a railroad executive.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
General James Watson Webb was a United States diplomat, newspaper publisher and a New York politician in the Whig and Republican parties.
The Regular Army of the United States succeeded the Continental Army as the country's permanent, professional land-based military force. Even in modern times the professional core of the United States Army continues to be called the Regular Army. From the time of the American Revolution until after the Spanish–American War, state militias and volunteer regiments organized by the states supported the smaller Regular Army of the United States. These volunteer regiments came to be called United States Volunteers (USV) in contrast to the Regular United States Army (USA). During the American Civil War, about 97 percent of the Union Army was United States Volunteers.
His paternal grandfather, Samuel Blatchley Webb, was wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill and served on George Washington's staff during the American Revolutionary War,and his paternal grandmother, Catherine Louisa (née Hogeboom) Webb, whose family was long associated with the Van Rensselaer's of New York. His maternal grandparents were Alexander L. Stewart and Sarah Amelia (née Lispenard) Stewart (the great-granddaughter of merchant Leonard Lispenard and a descendant of the Roosevelt family).
The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which was peripherally involved in the battle. It was the original objective of both the colonial and British troops, though the majority of combat took place on the adjacent hill which later became known as Breed's Hill.
George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Previously, he led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War for Independence. He presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the U.S. Constitution and a federal government. Washington has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence in July 1776 as the United States of America.
After preparing at Colonel Churchill's Military School in Sing Sing, New York (now Ossining, New York),Webb entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1855, ranking 13 out of 34. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery and was sent to Florida to serve in the Seminole War. After serving his duty in Florida, he was given an appointment to serve as an instructor of mathematics at West Point.
Ossining is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The population was 25,060 at the 2010 census. As a village, it is located in the town of Ossining.
The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the five U.S. service academies.
In many of the world's military establishments, a brevet was a warrant giving a commissioned officer a higher rank title as a reward for gallantry or meritorious conduct but without conferring the authority, precedence, or pay of real rank. An officer so promoted was referred to as being brevetted. The promotion would be noted in the officer's title.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Webb took part in the defense of Fort Pickens, Florida, was present at the First Battle of Bull Run, and was aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. William F. Barry, the chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, from July 1861 to April 1862. During the Peninsula Campaign, he served as Gen. Barry's assistant inspector general and received recognition for his assembling an impregnable line of artillery defense during the Battle of Malvern Hill; Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield wrote that Webb saved the Union Army from destruction.
Fort Pickens is a pentagonal historic United States military fort on Santa Rosa Island in the Pensacola, Florida, area. It is named after American Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens. The fort was completed in 1834 and remained in use until 1947. Fort Pickens is included within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and as such, is administered by the National Park Service.
The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas, was the first major battle of the American Civil War and was a Confederate victory. The battle was fought on July 21, 1861 in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about 25 miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C. The Union's forces were slow in positioning themselves, allowing Confederate reinforcements time to arrive by rail. Each side had about 18,000 poorly trained and poorly led troops in their first battle. It was a Confederate victory, followed by a disorganized retreat of the Union forces.
In the United States Armed Forces, brigadier general is a one-star general officer with the pay grade of O-7 in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. The rank of brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed services. The NATO equivalent is OF-6.
During the Maryland Campaign and the Battle of Antietam, recently promoted to lieutenant colonel, he served as chief of staff in Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps. After Antietam, he was ordered to Washington, D.C., where he served as Inspector of Artillery. In January 1863 he was again assigned to the V Corps, now commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and served again as chief of staff. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, Meade gave Webb temporary command of Brig. Gen. Erastus B. Tyler's brigade and thrust him into battle. He performed well and Meade in his report on the battle paid particular detail to Webb's "intelligence and zeal". On July 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Webb brigadier general, to rank from June 23, 1863.Three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon arrested the Philadelphia Brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Joshua T. Owen, and Webb was given command of the brigade (the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps). Initially, the brigade resented having the meticulously groomed and well-dressed Webb as their commanding officer, but he soon earned their respect through his attention to detail, his affability, and his discipline.
The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern United States, was a battle of the American Civil War, fought on September 17, 1862, between Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. Part of the Maryland Campaign, it was the first field army–level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.
In the United States Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force, a lieutenant colonel is a field-grade military officer rank just above the rank of major and just below the rank of colonel. It is equivalent to the naval rank of commander in the other uniformed services.
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.
When the Union Army repulsed the Confederates at Cemetery Hill, General Webb played a central role in the battle. Coddingtonwrote about Webb's conduct during Pickett's Charge: "Refusing to give up, [Webb] set an example of bravery and undaunted leadership for his men to follow...." Webb's brigade was posted on Cemetery Ridge with the rest of the II Corps on the morning of July 2, 1863. The brigade repulsed the assault of Brig. Gen. Ambrose R. Wright's brigade of Georgians as it topped the ridge late in the afternoon, chasing the Confederates back as far as the Emmitsburg Road, where they captured about 300 men and reclaimed a Union battery. Soon after, Webb sent two regiments to assist in counterattacking the assault of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's division on Cemetery Hill.
On July 3, Webb's brigade happened to be in the center of the Union line to defend against Pickett's Charge, in front of the famous "Copse of Trees." As the Confederates launched a massive artillery barrage to prepare for their infantry assault, Webb made himself conspicuous to his men, many of whom were unfamiliar with their new commander. He stood in front of the line and leaned on his sword, puffing leisurely on a cigar while cannonballs whistled by and shells exploded all around. Although his men shouted at him to take shelter, he refused and impressed many with his personal bravery. As Maj. Gen. George Pickett's Virginia division approached to within a few yards, two companies of Webb's 71st Pennsylvania fell back, and Webb feared the personal disgrace and the results of a breakthrough in his line. He shouted to his neighboring 72nd Pennsylvania to charge, but they refused to budge. He attempted to grab their regimental colors and go forward with them himself, but apparently the standard bearer did not recognize him, because he fought Webb for the colors before he went down, shot numerous times. Webb ultimately gave up on the 72nd and strode directly in front of the chaos as Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead's Confederate brigade breached the low stone wall, over to his 69th Pennsylvania regiment. Webb was wounded in his thigh and groin by a bullet, but kept going. With the help of two of Col. Norman J. Hall's New York regiments, and Brig. Gen. William Harrow's men, who ran over in a mass to get in their shots, Webb and his men brought the Confederate assault to a standstill, inflicting heavy casualties.
Webb received the Medal of Honor on September 28, 1891, for "distinguished personal gallantry in leading his men forward at a critical period in the contest" at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. President Lincoln nominated Webb for appointment to the brevet grade of major general of volunteers for his service at Gettysburg, to rank from August 1, 1864, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on February 14, 1865.
After Gettysburg, Webb received command of the division six weeks later and led it through the fall campaigns. His division played a prominent role in the Battle of Bristoe Station. When Gibbon returned to command in the spring of 1864, Webb went back to brigade command for the Overland Campaign. At the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, in May, he was hit by a bullet that passed through the corner of his right eye and came out his ear, but did not impair his mental abilities. The wound resulted in a false report that he had been killed and his death was reported in the New York Times on May 9.
He returned to the army on January 11, 1865, and was chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac from that date until June 28, 1865.Webb was the assistant inspector general of the Military Division of the Atlantic between July 1, 1865, and February 21, 1866. Webb was mustered out of the volunteer force on January 15, 1866.
On April 10, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Webb for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general, USA (regular army), to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on May 4, 1866.On December 11, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Webb for appointment to the brevet grade of major general, USA (regular army), to rank from on March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment February 23, 1867, recalled the confirmation on February 25, 1867, and reconfirmed it on March 2, 1867.
General Webb stayed with the Army until 1870, assigned as a lieutenant colonel to the 44th U.S. Infantry Regiment, July 28, 1866, and the 5th U.S. Infantry Regiment, March 15, 1869.He became unassigned, March 24, 1869. During his final year, he served again as an instructor at West Point. He was discharged on December 5, 1870, with the final permanent rank of lieutenant colonel.
From 1869 to 1902, General Webb served as the second president of the City College of New York, succeeding Horace Webster, also a West Point graduate.The College's curriculum under Webster and Webb combined classical training in Latin and Greek with more practical subjects like chemistry, physics, and engineering.
General Webb was an early companion of the New York Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, being elected on March 18, 1866. He was a founder and first Commander General of the Military Order of Foreign Wars in 1894. He was also an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.
On November 28, 1855, Webb was married to Anna Elizabeth Remsen (1837–1912), the daughter of Henry Rutgers Remsen and Elizabeth Waldron (née Phoenix) Remsen.In February 1892, Webb, his wife, and their daughter and son, Caroline and Alexander, were all included in Ward McAllister's "Four Hundred". Together, they were the parents of eight children, including:
Webb died in Riverdale, New York on February 12, 1911.He is buried in West Point National Cemetery. A statue of General Webb was dedicated in the Gettysburg National Military Park in 1915.
Through his daughter Helen, he was the grandfather of Marie "Civilise" Alexandre (1891–1967), who married U.S. Olympian Frederic Schenck (1886–1919) in 1917;and Anna Remsen Alexandre (1895–1984).
Webb was an articulate and graphic author who wrote extensively about the Civil War, including his book published in 1881, The Peninsula: McClellan's Campaign of 1862. A full-length bronze statue of him stands at Gettysburg Battlefield, overlooking the approach of Pickett's Charge. A full-length statue of General Webb, in full military uniform, also stands in his honor on the campus of the City College of New York.
Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, chief of artillery of the I Corps, a friend and social peer of Webb in New York City, wrote that he was one of the "most conscientious, hard working and fearless young officers that we have." Meade's aide Theodore Lyman considered him "jolly and pleasant," although he was put off by Webb's "way of suddenly laughing in a convulsive manner, by drawing in his breath, instead of letting it out—the way which goes to my bones." But Lyman regarded Webb as a "thorough soldier, wide-awake, quick, and attentive to detail," despite this annoying quirk.
Civil War historian Brian Pohanka had a brief, uncredited appearance as Webb in the 1993 film Gettysburg , about the battle.
Beverly Holcombe Robertson was a cavalry officer in the United States Army on the Western frontier and a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War.
Pickett's Charge was an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg in the state of Pennsylvania during the American Civil War. Its futility was predicted by the charge's commander, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, and it was arguably an avoidable mistake from which the Southern war effort never fully recovered militarily or psychologically. The farthest point reached by the attack has been referred to as the high-water mark of the Confederacy.
Lysander Cutler was an American businessman, educator, politician, and a Union Army General during the American Civil War.
Richard Brooke Garnett was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was court-martialed by Stonewall Jackson for his actions in command of the Stonewall Brigade at the First Battle of Kernstown, and killed during Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Evander McIver Law was an author, teacher, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.
John Cleveland Robinson had a long and distinguished career in the United States Army, fighting in numerous wars and culminating his career as a Union Army brigadier general of volunteers and brevet major general of volunteers in the American Civil War. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Robinson's appointment to the brevet grade of major general in the regular army. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor in action in 1864 near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, where he lost a leg. When he retired from the U.S. Army on May 6, 1869, he was placed on the retired list as a full rank major general, USA. After his army service, he was Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1873 to 1874 and served two terms as the president of the Grand Army of the Republic.
John Henry Hobart Ward, most commonly referred to as J.H. Hobart Ward, was a career United States Army soldier who fought in the Mexican–American War and served in the New York state militia. He also served as a Union general during the American Civil War.
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox was a career United States Army officer who served in the Mexican–American War and also was a Confederate general during the American Civil War.
Thomas Casimer Devin was a United States Army officer and general. He commanded Union cavalry during the American Civil War and during the Indian Wars.
James Jay Archer was a lawyer and an officer in the United States Army during the Mexican–American War. He later served as a Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army (CSA) during the American Civil War.
Brigadier-General Joseph R. Davis was a senior officer of the Confederate States Army who commanded infantry in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.
Abner Monroe Perrin was a Confederate general in the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War.
Orland Smith was a railroad executive and a brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War. In 1864, he led a spirited bayonet charge during the Battle of Wauhatchie that took a significant Confederate position on a hill that now bears his name.
Robert Daniel Johnston was a brigadier general for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.
Richard Coulter, Sr. was an American Civil War Colonel and brevet brigadier general of volunteers in the Union Army, a businessman, and banker. During the Civil War he was colonel of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, often rising to brigade command upon the wounding of superior officers. In 1866, he was nominated and confirmed as a brevet major general of volunteers to rank from April 1, 1865.
John Baillie McIntosh, although born in Florida, served as a Union Army brigadier general in the American Civil War. His brother, James M. McIntosh, served as a Confederate general until he was killed in the Battle of Pea Ridge.
Alexander Shaler was a Union Army general in the American Civil War. He received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Second Battle of Fredericksburg. After the war, he was at various times the head of the New York City Fire Department, president of the National Rifle Association, and Mayor of Ridgefield, New Jersey, from 1899 to 1901.
William Root Brewster was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War who commanded a regiment in the famed Excelsior Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. He later commanded the brigade, including at the Battle of Gettysburg where Brewster and his men were overrun by Confederates while defending the Emmitsburg Road position of the III Corps not far from the Peach Orchard.
Daniel Davidson Bidwell was a civic leader in Buffalo, New York, before the outbreak of the American Civil War. He enlisted early in the war and then was appointed colonel of a regiment of infantry. He was promoted to general in command of a brigade in early 1864, leading it until he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
Joshua Thomas Owen was an educator, politician, and soldier from Pennsylvania who served as a Union brigadier general during the American Civil War. He commanded the famed Philadelphia Brigade for part of the war, but was relieved of duty for alleged cowardice during battle.
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| President of City College of New York |
1869 – 1902
John Huston Finley