GENERAL ANDREW ATKINSON HUMPHREYS, USA - History

GENERAL ANDREW ATKINSON HUMPHREYS, USA - History


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VITAL STATISTICS
BORN: 1810 in Philadelphia, PA.
DIED: 1883 in District of Columbia.
CAMPAIGNS: Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg.
HIGHEST RANK ACHIEVED: Major General.
BIOGRAPHY
Andrew Atkinson Humphreys was born on November 2, 1810, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father and grandfather had designed and built ships for the US Navy. Young Humphreys attended the US Military Academy, graduating in 1831, but left the army for two years to work as an engineer. He was then appointed an engineer officer, and served as a junior officer in the Seminole War. Humphreys became one of the top army engineers by the time the Civil War began, although he had not been on combat duty for over 20 years. Once the Civil War began, he became a staff officer for Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Army of the Potomac. Humphreys obtained divisional command right before the Battle of Antietam, and later served well at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Shortly after Gettysburg, he was appointed chief of staff to Maj. George G. Meade; and given the rank of major general to rank from July 8, 1863. While he could only obtain the rank promotion by accepting the staff post, he was thus unable to lead troops, which was the only military duty he wished to perform. In November of 1864, Humphreys received an opportunity to command troops when Maj. Winfield S. Hancock was wounded, and Humphreys took over the II Corps from him. Humphreys led the corps through to the end of the war. After the Civil War, he led the Corps of Engineers, serving for 13 years, and wrote about the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. In 1879, he retired from the military, and died in the District of Columbia, on December 27, 1883.

Major General Andrew A. Humphreys

Humphreys was born to a family prominent in naval architecture. His grandfather, Joshua, designed the USS Constitution. He graduated from West Point in 1831, ranked 13 out of 33 in his class. He saw combat in the artillery in the Seminole Wars and then garrison duty. he resigned in 1836 to become a civil engineer for the government. Two years later, he was back in the army as a 1st lieutenant in the Topographical Engineers and worked on bridges, harbors, and coastal and railroad surveys. He spent much of the next 30 years as a civil engineer in the Army, with his service involving topographical and hydrological surveys of the Mississippi River Delta.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, H

mphreys was promoted to major and became the Chief Topographical Engineer for Major Gen. George B. McClellan's in the Army of the Potomac. Initially involved in planning the defenses of Washington, D.C., by March 1862, he shipped out with McClellan for the Peninsula Campaign. He was promoted to Brigadier General of volunteers and on September 12, assumed command of the new 3rd Division in the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He led the division at Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Although respected by his men for his bravery under fire, Humphreys was not well liked by them. In his mid-fifties, they considered him an old man, despite his relatively youthful appearance. His nickname was "Old Goggle Eyes" for his eyeglasses. He was a taskmaster and strict disciplinarian.

At Chancellorsville, his division did little, principally because most of his soldiers were near the ends of their enlistments.

On May 23, 1863, Humphreys was transferred to the command of the 2nd Division in the III Corps, under Major Gen. Daniel E. Sickles. When Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, he asked Humphreys to be his Chief of Staff, replacing Brigadier Gen. Daniel Butterfield, who was considered to be too close politically to the previous commander, Major Gen. Joseph Hooker. He declined the opportunity to give up his division command.

Humphreys' new division immediately saw action at Gettysburg where, on July 2, Sickles insubordinately moved his corps from its assigned defensive position on Cemetery Ridge. Assaulted by the division of Major Gen. Lafayette McLaws, his 2 brigades were demolished. He put up the best fight that could have been expected and was eventually able to reform his survivors on Cemetery Ridge, but his division and the entire corps were finished as a fighting force.

Humphreys was promoted to major general of volunteers and finally acceded to Major Gen. George G. Meade's request to serve as his Chief of Staff because he did not have much of division left to command. He served in that position through the Bristoe Campaign, Mine Run Campaign , and the Overland Campaign and the siege of Petersburg in 1864. In November 1864, he assumed command of the II Corps, which he led for the rest of the siege and during the Appomattox Campaign. On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted Brigadier General in the Regular Army for his actions at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, and then to major general for Sayler's Creek. He helped pursue Gen. Robert E. Lee to Appomattox Court House and was there for Lee's surrender.

After the war, Humphreys commanded the District of Pennsylvania. He became a permanent Brigadier General and Chief of Engineers from 1866-79. He retired on June 30, 1879, serving during this period on lighthouse and other engineering boards.

Humphreys studied philosophy and was one of the incorporators of the National Academy of Sciences. His published works were highlighted by his 1867 "Report on the Physics and Hydraulics of the Mississippi River," which gave him considerable prominence in the scientific community. He also wrote personal accounts of the war, "From Gettysburg to the Rapidan" and "The Virginia Campaign of '64 and '65"


Andrew A. Humphreys

The monument to Brigadier General Andrew A. Humphreys is south of Gettysburg on Emmitsburg Road. (Emmitsburg Road & N. Sickles Avenue tour map) The statue of Humphreys was created by J. Otto Schweitzer, one of seven statues by the Swiss-born sculptor that are on the Gettysburg battlefield.*

*The other six statues by Schweitzer at Gettysburg are President Lincoln, David McM. Gregg and Alfred Pleasonton from the State of Pennsylvania Monument William Wells on South Confederate Avenue, John Geary on Culp’s Hill and Alexander Hays on Hancock Avenue.

Monument to Union Brigadier General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys at Gettysburg

From the tablet on the front of the monument

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys

Cadet U.S. Military Academy July 1 1827.
Brevet Second Lieutenant 2nd U.S. Artillery July 1 1831. Second Lieutenant July 1 1831.
First Lieutenant August 16 1836.
Resigned September 30 1836.

First Lieutenant Topographical Engineers U.S. Army July 7, 1838. Captain May 31 1848. Major August 6, 1861. Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers March 3 1863. Brig. General and Chief of Engineers U.S. Army August 8 1866. Retired June 30, 1879.”

Colonel and Addition Aide-de-camp U.S. Volunteers March 5, 1862. Brig. General April 28, 1862. Major General July 8 1863. Honorably mustered out of Volunteer Service Sept. 1 1866. Brevetted Colonel U.S. Army December 13 1862 “For gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Fredericksburg Va.” Brig. General March 13 1865 “For gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg Pa.” Major General March 18 1865 “For gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek Va.”

Born November 2 1810 at Philadelphia Pa.
Died December 27 1883 at Washington D.C.

About Andrew A. Hunphreys

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys was the son and grandson of naval architects. His grandfather designed the U.S.S. Constitution and her five sisters.

Andrew graduated from West Point in 1831. He served in civil and topographical engineering duties until the Civil War. When the war broke out he became an aide to George McClellan and served in the Peninsula Campaign as the Army of the Potomac’s chief topographical engineer. Humphreys took command of a 5th Corps division in September of 1862. He led them through the Antietam campaign, through the Battle of Fredericksburg where he survived leading his men on horseback in the deadly charge against Marye’s Heights, and at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

He was transferred to the 1st Division of the 3rd Corps just before Gettysburg. His division was shattered in Longstreet’s assault on Sickles’ exposed position on July 2nd. Humphreys was tenacious in his defense, and even after the collapse of the corps put together a fighting line of men who would not run away, advancing them back into the fight.

After the battle he was rewarded with a promotion to major general of volunteers and the rank of brevet brigadier general in the regular army, and became Meade’s chief of staff.

In November of 1864 he took over the 2nd Corps from Hancock, who had to step down due to continuing complications from his Gettysburg wound. Humphreys commanded the 2nd Corps with distinction until the end of the war.

After the war Humphreys served as the army’s chief of engineers until his retirement in 1879. He died in Washington D.C. in 1883.

Location of the monument to Andrew A. Humphreys at Gettysburg

The monument to Brigadier General Andrew A. Humphreys is south of Gettysburg on the east side of Emmitsburg Road just north of Sickles Avenue. (39°48󈧡.6″N 77°14󈧪.0″W)


--> Humphreys, A. A. (Andrew Atkinson), 1810-1883

Chief of U.S. army engineers, 1866-1879, from Pennsylvania.

From the description of A. A. Humphreys papers, 1846-1875 1908 [manuscript]. WorldCat record id: 25327462

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1810-1883) of Pennsylvania was chief of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1866-1879. He was educated at the United States Military Academy and began his military service in 1831.

From the guide to the A. A. Humphreys Papers, ., 1846-1875 1908, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

American army officer Chief of Engineers.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, D.C., to William W. Belknap, [18]71 Aug. 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269539518

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Head Qrs. 2d Corps, Va., to Reuben E. Fenton, 1865 Jan. 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269526625

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys was a Union army brevet major general in the Civil War. After the war, he served as chief of U.S. army engineers, 1866-1879.

From the description of A. A. Humphreys letter to William A. Baker, 1870 July 27. (University of California, Santa Barbara). WorldCat record id: 745907904

American army officer chief of engineers.

From the description of Letter signed : Washington, to George W. McCrary, Secretary of War, 1878 Apr. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269553594


Narrow gauge railway at Camp A. A. Humphreys

The narrow gauge railway at Camp A. A. Humphreys was a 20 miles (32 km) long 2 ft ( 610 mm ) gauge military railway at what is now Fort Belvoir, Virginia .

In 1918, the AA Humphreys camp was set-up in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It was named after Brigadier General Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, who served during the civil war in the Union Army and later as the Chief of the engineers of the army before he died in 1883. It was an important training camp for pioneers and other soldiers who learned to build roads, railroads, bridges and trenches. [1]

Beginning in the first half of 1918, a 20 miles (32 km) long narrow gauge line was built there. [1] 15 miles (24 km) of track ran between the pier at the Potomac River and Camp Humphreys. [3]

The light rails of a narrow-gauge railway could be laid quickly and, if necessary, quickly dismantled. The 5 metres (16 ft) long prefabricated sections of the flying track weighing 100 kilograms (220 lb) could be carried and laid by only two soldiers. Because of the small gauge, smaller radii could be used than with standard gauge railways. [1]

From March 1918 until the end of the war on 11 November 1918, hundreds of soldiers and engineers learned, how to construct and to operate a narrow-gauge railway. They trained to lay tracks, to build railway bridges and to operate the small steam and gasoline locomotives. Many narrow-gauge railways were used by American troops in the international war theater to transport supplies, ammunition and building materials as well as casualties and the wounded. Similar narrow gauge railways were located in Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, and Fort Dix, New Jersey. [1]

Around 1920, the narrow gauge railway tracks of Camp Humphreys were lifted and fell into oblivion. After the war, some of the locomotives and wagons of Camp Humphreys and other forts were not scrapped but re-used in mining operations and plantations around the world. [1]


Civil War [ edit | edit source ]

Humphreys, second from the right, and President Abraham Lincoln after the Battle of Antietam.

After the outbreak of the Civil War, Humphreys was promoted (August 6, 1861) to major and became chief topographical engineer in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac. Initially involved in planning the defenses of Washington, D.C., by March 1862, he shipped out with McClellan for the Peninsula Campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on April 28 and on September 12 assumed command of the new 3rd Division in the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He led the division in a reserve role in the Battle of Antietam. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, his division achieved the farthest advance against fierce Confederate fire from Marye's Heights his corps commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, wrote: "I hardly know how to express my appreciation of the soldierly qualities, the gallantry, and energy displayed by my division commanders, Generals George Sykes, Humphreys, and Charles Griffin." Ώ] For an officer with little combat experience, he inspired his troops with his personal bravery. Historian Larry Tagg wrote:

. for certain good reasons connected with the effect of what I did upon the spirit of the men and from an invincible repugnance to ride anywhere else, I always rode at the head of my troops." Lt. Cavada of the general's staff recalled that just before he took his troops up to the Stone Wall at Fredericksburg, Humphreys had bowed to his staff in his courtly way, "and in the blandest manner remarked, 'Young gentlemen, I intend to lead this assault I presume, of course, you will wish to ride with me?'" Since it was put like that, the staff had done so, and five of the seven officers were knocked off their horses. After his men had taken as much as they could stand in front of the Stone Wall on Marye's Heights, the next brigade coming up the hill saw Humphreys sitting his horse all alone, looking out across the plain, bullets cutting the air all around him. Something about the way the general was taking it pleased them, and they sent up a cheer. Humphreys looked over, surprised, waved his cap to them with a grim smile, and then went riding off into the twilight. In this way Humphreys had turned his first division's dislike of him into admiration for his heroic leadership .

– Larry Tagg, Generals of Gettysburg

Although respected by his men for his bravery under fire, Humphreys was not well liked by them. In his mid-fifties, they considered him an old man, despite his relatively youthful appearance. His nickname was "Old Goggle Eyes" for his eyeglasses. He was a taskmaster and strict disciplinarian. Charles A. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, called him a man of "distinguished and brilliant profanity."

Generals Andrew A. Humphreys, George G. Meade and staff in Culpeper, Virginia outside Meade's headquarters, 1863.

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Humphreys' division did little, principally because most of his soldiers were near the ends of their enlistments. On May 23, 1863, Humphreys was transferred to the command of the 2nd Division in the III Corps, under Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles. When Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomac just before the Battle of Gettysburg, he asked Humphreys to be his chief of staff, replacing Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, who was considered to be too close politically to the previous commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Humphreys declined the opportunity to give up his division command. His new division immediately saw action at Gettysburg where, on July 2, 1863, Sickles insubordinately moved his corps from its assigned defensive position on Cemetery Ridge. Humphreys' new position was on the Emmitsburg Road, part of a salient directly in the path of the Confederate assault, and it was too long a front for a single division to defend. Assaulted by the division of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws, Humphreys' three brigades were demolished Sickles had pulled back Humphrey's reserve brigade to shore up the neighboring division (Maj. Gen. David B. Birney), which was the first to be attacked. Humphreys put up the best fight that could have been expected and was eventually able to reform his survivors on Cemetery Ridge, but his division and the entire corps were finished as a fighting force.

Humphreys was promoted to major general of volunteers on July 8, 1863, and finally acceded to Meade's request to serve as his chief of staff he did not have much of a division left to command. He served in that position through the Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns that fall, and the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864. In November 1864, he assumed command of the II Corps, which he led for the rest of the siege and during the pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee to Appomattox Court House and surrender. On March 13, 1865, he was breveted brigadier general in the regular army for "gallant and meritorious service at the battle of Gettysburg", and then to major general for the Battle of Sayler's Creek during Lee's retreat.


MAJOR GENERAL ANDREW A. HUMPHREYS - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 06/24/1880 - HFSID 30352

ANDREW ATKINSON HUMPRHEYS
Gettysburg hero writes to Winfield Hancock, whom he replaced as Corps Commander, on his nomination for the U.S. Presidency
Autograph Letter signed: "A. A. Humphreys", 1p, 4¾x7¾. Washington, D.C., 1880 June 24. On black-bordered mourning paper to Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, U.S. Army, New York. Docketed on verso. In full: "I have this moment heard of your nomination for the Presidency by the Democratic Convention. I am delighted. Not only is it a personal tribute to your own high qualities, but to the Army of the Potomac of which you are a fitting emblem. Of your election I have no doubt. I believe your views upon all the great questions of the day are sound, and I am confident that in the discharge of your duties as President you will, as you always have done, see that exact justice is done to all. Sincerely yours". Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1810-1883), West Point graduate of 1831, performed mainly engineering duties for the U.S. Army until the Civil War provided him with the opportunity to prove his mettle as a warrior. After serving on the staff of General George McClellan, he was promoted to a divisional command (September 1862), leading with distinction in the Maryland campaign and at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. At Gettysburg (1863), as a division commander in General Daniel Sickles' III Corps, Humphreys led the valiant resistance to Confederate assaults after General Sickles unwisely ordered the corps forward into exposed positions between the opposing armies. Promoted to Chief of Staff to General Meade, commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, he assumed command of General Hancock's II Corps in 1864 after Hancock's Gettysburg wounds compelled him to quit field service. He was brevetted Major General for gallantry at Sayler's Creek. At war's end, he was by far the oldest corps commander in the Army of the Potomac. With the permanent rank of Brigadier General, he served as Chief of Engineers until his retirement in 1879. Humphreys' confidence in Hancock's election proved ill-founded, although not by much. He lost to another Union general, James A. Garfield, by a mere 10,000 votes out of over 9 million cast (214-155 Electoral Votes). Light vertical line and ink transfer from prior folding of letter. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Andrew Atkinson Humphreys papers

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Andrew Atkinson Humphreys papers (Collection 304), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Background

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys was born in Philadelphia in 1810, and went on to attend the military academy at West Point. Andrew was the son of Samuel Humphreys, who was the chief constructor for the United States Navy, and the grandson of Joshua Humphreys, who is often called the "Father of the American Navy." Humphreys graduated from West Point in 1831 and enlisted with the Second Artillery Regiment in South Carolina. Humphreys' service took him to Florida, where he fought in the beginning of the Second Seminole War, until the fall of 1836, when he became too sick to complete his service. He traveled for a short period of time, and then reenlisted in the Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1838.

Humphreys worked on the U.S. coastal survey, in addition to many smaller projects in Washington, D.C. and Chicago during the 1840s. From 1850 until 1861, he took charge of the Mississippi River survey project, which spanned the length of the river to the Mississippi Delta. Humphreys and his assistant Henry L. Abbot produced a significant report from the survey, entitled Report upon the Physics and Hydraulics of the Mississippi River, in which they detail the factors involved in the river's flooding and document the state of the levee system. This work was one of the major works of Humphreys's career, and may mark his most significant contribution to the field of engineering. During this period, Humphreys also directed the survey of the Pacific Railroad, under the supervision of the secretary of war, Jefferson Davis.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Humphreys's focus shifted toward topographical engineering for the Army of the Potomac. His skills as a surveyor were employed to map the courses of battle and plan strategy for the Union Army. Humphreys's friendship with Jefferson Davis was an obstacle in the beginning of his service in the Union Army, but he proved himself to be a superior soldier and over time rose in rank. He served as chief of staff for General George G. Meade in 1863 and 1864, and later commanded the 2nd and 3rd Army Corps. After the Civil War, Humphreys commanded the Army Corps of Engineers (which merged with the Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1863) until his retirement in 1879. After his retirement, Humphreys wrote several memoirs of his service in the Civil War, which detailed the campaigns of Gettysburg and Virginia. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys spent the last years of his life in Washington, D.C., where he died in 1883.

Scope and Contents

This collection documents all aspects of Andrew Atkinson Humphreys's career in the United States Army and Topographical Corps of Engineers, as well as some aspects of his personal life and family history. A.A. Humphreys's papers are arranged into eleven series, most of which focus on his military service.

The correspondence and orders in series 1 (1848-1879) represent a mixture of personal and official military documents, which provide a view into Humphreys's work on the Mississippi River survey and his service in the Army of the Potomac under General George Meade. Series 2 contains pamphlets, periodicals, scientific journals, military documents, and newspapers, which cover a wide range of topics, indluding surveying, astronomy, Philadelphia public buildings, military regulations, and the court martial case of Fitz-John Porter. Series 3 (Family papers) offers a minimal perspective on the life of Joshua Humphreys, who designed the U.S.S. Constitution, with a small selection of accounts and papers related to shipping. More significantly represented in series 3 is A. A. Humphreys's son, Henry, who served under his father during the Civil War, and continued on to a military career of his own. Henry H. Humphreys's scrapbooks in boxes 11-14 contain correspondence, clippings, memorabilia concerning the anniversary of the Constitution, and other documents, personal and professional. Series 4 contains maps drafted for maneuvers of the Army of the Potomac. See the General George G. Meade papers for related material. Series 5 (Miscellaneous) contains a small group of papers from Humphreys's personal and professional activities, as well as a scrapbook compiled after his death.

Series 6 contains receipts for expenses, payroll, and transportation of goods related to the Sanitary Commission and Fair in Philadelphia. Series 7 (Supplies) offers a perspective on the food and goods consumed by soldiers and officers during the height of the Civil War. This series is mostly comprised of receipts, but there are also reports on food quality and records of rations received. Series 8 documents Humphreys's work with the United States Corps of Topographical Engineers, and includes accounts, correspondence, legislation and reports related to various projects. Series 9 (Volumes) is one of the most comprehensive series in the collection because a significant portion of the manuscript material that would normally have been separated into other series is bound in a group of fifty-seven volumes, which make up the bulk of the series. The majority of these volumes cover the Civil War period, and include several volumes of letters from Humphreys to his wife about the war and daily activities (Volumes 33-34). Volumes 1-32 contain correspondence, both military and personal, arranged chronologically. Volumes 35-55 contain official military correspondence from the Civil War era. Series 10 (Vouchers) is the largest series in the collection, consisting primarily of payment vouchers. Boxes 35-39 contain bounty fund payments boxes 41-45 contain muster rolls for various regiments and boxes 46-111 contain muster payrolls, bounty payments, correspondence related to payments and miscellaneous vouchers. The items in the last group of boxes were not sorted because they appeared more interconnected and were difficult to separate into discrete groups. The last series, Writings, contains material for Humphreys's book The Virginia Campaign (boxes 115-117), as well as several hand-written drafts. Also included are drafts and material for Gettysburg to the Rapidan (boxes 117-119) and personal journals (box 119).

All materials are arranged chronologically within series.

Overview of arrangement

This collection is arranged into eleven series:

Series 1. Correspondence and orders, 1848-1879, undated 1 Linear foot

Series 2. Ephemera and printed matter, 1842-1898, undated 4 Linear feet

Series 3. Family papers, 1708-1930, undated 2.5 Linear feet

Series 4. Maps and drawings, 1857-1865, undated 0.2 Linear feet

Series 5. Miscellaneous, 1853-1931, undated 0.4 Linear feet

Series 6. Sanitary Commission and Fair 1862-1865 1.2 Linear feet

Series 7. Supplies, 1859-1864 4 Linear feet

Series 8. Topographical surveys, 1828-1880, undated 2 Linear feet

Series 9. Volumes, 1827-1901, undated 19 Linear feet

Series 10. Vouchers, 1861-1871, undated 30 Linear feet

Series 11. Writings, 1835-1883, undated 4 Linear feet.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania 2010

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-732-6200

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of the Humphreys family. Some items were purchased by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Processing Information

This collection was processed using guidelines set out in the "More Product, Less Process" approach to archival processing. Given the scope of this collection, it could benefit from further processing at a later date.

Related Materials

Related collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

A.A. (Andrew Atkinson) Humphreys biographical notes (call number Am .685), 1865-1884.

Adolfo Fernandez Cavada diary (call number Am .6956), 1861-1863.

Frank M. Etting collection (collection 193), 1558-1917.

George Gordon Meade papers (collection 410), 1793-1896.

Joshua Humphreys papers (collection 306), 1682-1931.

Samuel Humphreys journal (collection 2001), 1818-1845.

Related collections at other institutions

Humphreys family papers (05186), 1840-1918 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Southern History Collection.

Separated Materials

A fairly large group of material was separated from the collection because it was deemed to have been erroneously included in the A.A. Humphreys papers during an earlier rehousing project. These papers consist of petitions and correspondence to the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives, receipts and correspondence addressed to Levi Hollingsworth and Sons, correspondence addressed to Edward Armstrong, and invitations addressed to James T. Mitchell. These materials have been flagged for processing at a later date.

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

Geographic Name(s)

  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Engineering & construction.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military tactics--Union.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Union.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

Personal Name(s)

  • Abbot, Henry L.
  • Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867.
  • Carson, Hampton L. (Hampton Lawrence), 1852-1929.
  • De Peyster, J. Watts (John Watts), 1821-1907.
  • Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.
  • Humphreys, Henry H. (Henry Hollingsworth), b. 1840.
  • Humphreys, Joshua, 1751-1838.
  • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward) , 1807-1870.
  • Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872.
  • Porter, Fitz-John, 1822-1901.

Subject(s)

  • Hydrographic surveying--Mississippi River.
  • Seminole War, 2nd, 1835-1842.
  • Spouses--Correspondence--19th century.
  • United States. Army of the Potomac.
  • United States. Army. Corps of Engineers--History--19th century.
  • United States. Army. Corps of Engineers.

Bibliography

Carson, Hampton L. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1885.

De Peyster, John Watts. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys. Lancaster, Pa.: Lancaster Intelligencer Print, 1886.

Humphreys, Henry H. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys: A Biography. Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1924.

Pearcy, Matthew T. "Documents: Andrew Atkinson Humphreys' Seminole War Field Journal," The Florida Historical Quarterly 85, no. 2 (2006): 197-230.

Collection Inventory

1. Correspondence and orders 1848-1879, undated 1.0 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a wide range of correspondence, spanning Humphreys's career in the Army and the Corps of Topographical Engineers. There are six correspondence and order books that hold records produced during Humphreys's service in the Army of the Potomac. These letters and orders document soldiers' requests for leave, troop movements, and issues regarding the upkeep of the base and conduct of the men.

The unbound correspondence (in boxes 1 and 2) offers a view into the role of the topographical engineers in surveying and recommending repairs to the levees along the Mississippi River, and in mapping terrain for battles during the Civil War. These papers also contain Humphreys's requests for leave because of illness, discussions of his conflicts with other soldiers due to their conduct during battle, some material related to the survey of the Mississippi delta in the 1850s, orders to survey the Mississippi river levees (1865), and detailed correspondence between Humphreys and Henry L. Abbot about plans to repair the levee system along the Mississippi River. There are several folders of material that seem to have belonged to Major Frank M. Etting. These letters sometimes contain direct requests from soldiers or veterans who were struggling financially.

Later correspondence includes reflections on Civil War battles in letters to Major General de Peyster, as well as orders and correspondence from Humphreys's time as Meade's chief of staff. There is also correspondence related to Yerba Buena (or Goat) Island, about which there was a great deal of publicity when it was transferred from military control to the Central Pacific Railroad Company in 1872, by a Senate bill. The majority of correspondence is not isolated in this series, but scattered throughout the collection most of it is pasted into volumes 1 through 57, which contain both personal and military documents and are arranged chronologically. See the series Volumes for both military and personal correspondence. There is also correspondence related to payments included in the Vouchers series, as well as material related to the survey of the Mississippi River in the Topographical Surveys series.

Letters Written (September 22, 1862-May 16, 1863)

Special Orders (September 22, 1862-May 17, 1863)

General Orders & Circulars (October 6, 1862-May 16, 1863)

Circulars (December 10, 1862-May 16, 1863)

Endorsement Book (October 2, 1862-May 16, 1863)

2. Ephemera and printed matter 1842-1898, undated (Bulk, 1860-1880) 4.0 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a mixture of broadsides, pamphlets, journals, newspapers and clippings, and a few photographs published under Matthew Brady's name in a folio titled Incidents of War. Some of the periodicals represented include The Historical Magazine, La Royale, Army Navy Journal, and Railroad Record.

Other materials in this series are military memos and orders pamphlets pertaining to Gettysburg, the surveying of the Mississippi River, and the court martial case of Fitz-John Porter printers proofs of Memoirs of HSP and a set of clippings related to Philadelphia public buildings.

3. Family papers 1708-1930, undated 2.5 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

The majority of the material in this series documents the lives of Joshua Humphreys and Henry Humphreys, who were A.A. Humphreys's grandfather and son, respectively. Documenting the life of Joshua Humphreys are a small group of accounts, legal papers, shipping insurance policies, and a membership certificate for the American Philosophical Society. There is also a reprint of "Who Built the First United States Navy?"

Henry Humphreys's scrapbooks make up the largest segment of this series. He collected clippings, correspondence, and ephemera in three scrapbooks dating from 1884 to approximately 1910. In addition to the scrapbooks, there are two folders of commissions covering Henry Humphreys's service under his father's command during the Civil War. Also included in this series are a list of British officers circa 1750-1780, Humphreys family seals, one of Charles Humphreys's school books, and some miscellaneous items.

4. Maps and drawings 1857-1865, undated 0.2 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

This small series contains maps of the Virginia Campaign during the Civil War, when Humphreys was working for General George Meade as a topographical engineer, and then as his chief of staff. Many maps, though printed, contain notations in pencil or ink. Also included are several designs for torpedos and batteries, as well as a sketch of the Southwest Pass near the Gulf of Mexico.

See the George Gordon Meade papers for related maps.

5. Miscellaneous 1853-1931, undated 0.4 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a mixture of Humphreys's personal and professional items, as well as material about Humphreys collected after his death. Personal items include a Union League medal, Humphreys's passport, account records from Humphreys's travel to Europe, and some circulars for organizations to which Humphreys may have belonged. Professional items include order books used during Humphreys's service as Meade's chief of staff for the Army of the Potomac and notes he made about weapons manufactured abroad. Also included are a scrapbook with clippings about Humphreys's life and death and some photographs of artifacts.

6. Sanitary Commission and Fair 1862-1865 1.2 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

President Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of the United States Sanitary Commission, which was charged with providing material comfort to Union soldiers during the Civil War. Many groups were formed throughout the North to collect bedding, clothing, and hospital supplies. These groups shipped materials to areas where they were needed. This series contains receipts for payments related to the Sanitary Commission and Fair in Philadelphia and payroll records for employees responsible for constructing the fair buildings. Many of the receipts document shipping and porterage costs. Other receipts show purchases of newspapers, blank books, furniture, transportation, and cost of construction. The majority of these materials represent the efforts of the Women's Pennsylvania Branch of the Sanitary Commission.

7. Supplies 1859-1864 4.0 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

Comprised of receipts and reports, this series documents officers' orders for food, candles, whiskey, and supplies for both personal use and for camp commissaries. The orders contain specific and detailed accounts of the food stores and whiskey rations received. These papers also contain a sample of food inspection records from various camps during the Civil War. These reports rate food quality and preparation, and offer a view of what soldiers ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also included are a small group of inventories of quartermaster and ordnance stores. These materials are arranged chronologically.

8. Topographical surveys 1828-1880, undated 2.0 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

This series consists almost entirely of accounts and correspondence related to surveying and removing obstructions to navigation in the Mississippi River. Later material focuses on the survey and repair of levees in the Mississippi Delta.

The accounts document expenditures on goods like food, tools and instruments, drawing boards, paper and stationery supplies and expenses for wages, transportation, medical care, and undertakers' services. The correspondence in this series refers primarily to reports, which detail the survey methodology, problems encountered during surveying, and document some of Humphreys's and Abbot's recommendations.

Also included in this series are memos, notes, reports, and other documents related to the Mississippi River and Pacific Railroad surveys. In addition, there is one folder of material related to the Inter-Oceanic Canal Commission, which was charged by President Grant with investigating the feasibility of a canal through Nicaragua.

9. Volumes 1827-1901, undated 19.0 Linear feet

Scope and Contents note

Perhaps the most wide ranging series in the collection, the volumes contain material from all aspects of Humphreys's life, and papers from other members of the Humphreys family. This series offers a unique overview of Humphreys's personal life and career. The volumes are arranged in chronological order.

There is correspondence with A.A. Humphreys's father Samuel regarding Andrew's entry into the military academy as a young man. Later volumes contain records related to Henry Humphreys's service and personal affairs. The majority of the papers contained in these volumes pertain to Humphreys's service in the Corps of Topographical Engineers and the Army of the Potomac. Early materials document Humphreys's service in Florida during the Second Seminole War, his repeated illness during this period, and recuperative trips to Europe. These papers record his nomination to the Corps of Topographical Engineers and his subsequent work on surveys of the Chicago Harbor and the New England coast. Humphreys's more prominent topographical survey work along the Mississippi River is well documented in these volumes.

Papers related to the Civil War make up the vast majority of this series. Volumes 5-20 and 35-57 contain correspondence, official orders, regimental lists, reports, court martial records, debriefing about battles, and records of casualties. In some volumes, there are personal letters that describe the impact of the war and reveal conflicts between soldiers. Volumes 33 and 34 are primarily made up of letters from Humphreys to his wife during his military service. In some of these letters from the field, he writes in great detail about his direct experience of the countryside and his perspective on the war. These are intimate letters in which he confides in his wife and writes with requests for food and clothing. They provide a personal perspective on a man who might otherwise appear solely focused on his work and reputation.

Also included in this series are four volumes of accounts and lists related to bounty payments.


Civil War

After the outbreak of the Civil War, Humphreys was promoted (August 6, 1861) to major and became chief topographical engineer in Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac. [6] Humphreys was put in this position for his achievements in life but also "those in power at Washington distrusted him because of his intimacy with Jefferson Davis before the war." [7] Initially involved in planning the defenses of Washington, D.C., by March 1862, he shipped out with McClellan for the Peninsula Campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on April 28 [8] and on September 12 assumed command of the new 3rd Division in the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He led the division in a reserve role in the Battle of Antietam. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, his division achieved the farthest advance against fierce Confederate fire from Marye's Heights, with Humphreys personally commanding from the very front of the line on horseback, and five of his seven staff were shot down. During the battle Humphreys himself had two of horses shot from under him and finding a third he continued to ride having his clothes pierced but leaving him unhurt. [9] His corps commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, wrote: "I hardly know how to express my appreciation of the soldierly qualities, the gallantry, and energy displayed by my division commanders, Generals George Sykes, Humphreys, and Charles Griffin." [10] General Butterfield goes on to talk personally about Humphreys' actions: "General Humphreys personally led his division in the most gallant manner. His attack was spirited, and worthy of veterans. Made as it was by raw troops, the value of the example set by the division commander can hardly be estimated." [11] For an officer with little combat experience, he inspired his troops with his personal bravery. Historian Larry Tagg wrote:

. for certain good reasons connected with the effect of what I did upon the spirit of the men and from an invincible repugnance to ride anywhere else, I always rode at the head of my troops." Lt. Cavada of the general's staff recalled that just before he took his troops up to the Stone Wall at Fredericksburg, Humphreys had bowed to his staff in his courtly way, "and in the blandest manner remarked, 'Young gentlemen, I intend to lead this assault I presume, of course, you will wish to ride with me?'" Since it was put like that, the staff had done so, and five of the seven officers were knocked off their horses. After his men had taken as much as they could stand in front of the Stone Wall on Marye's Heights, the next brigade coming up the hill saw Humphreys sitting his horse all alone, looking out across the plain, bullets cutting the air all around him. Something about the way the general was taking it pleased them, and they sent up a cheer. Humphreys looked over, surprised, waved his cap to them with a grim smile, and then went riding off into the twilight. In this way Humphreys had turned his first division's dislike of him into admiration for his heroic leadership .

Although respected by his men for his bravery under fire, Humphreys was not well liked by them. In his mid-fifties, they considered him an old man, despite his relatively youthful appearance. His nickname was "Old Goggle Eyes" for his eyeglasses. He was a taskmaster and strict disciplinarian. Charles A. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, called him a man of "distinguished and brilliant profanity."

At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Humphreys' division was attacked by Colquitt's brigade on the 3rd day of the battle. On May 23, 1863, Humphreys was transferred to the command of the 2nd Division in the III Corps, under Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles. [12] When Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomac just before the Battle of Gettysburg, he asked Humphreys to be his chief of staff, replacing Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, who was considered to be too close politically to the previous commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Humphreys declined the opportunity to give up his division command. His new division immediately saw action at Gettysburg where, on July 2, 1863, Sickles insubordinately moved his corps from its assigned defensive position on Cemetery Ridge. Humphreys' new position was on the Emmitsburg Road, part of a salient directly in the path of the Confederate assault, and it was too long a front for a single division to defend. Assaulted by the division of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws, Humphreys' three brigades were demolished Sickles had pulled back Humphrey's reserve brigade to shore up the neighboring division (Maj. Gen. David B. Birney), which was the first to be attacked. Humphreys put up the best fight that could have been expected and was eventually able to reform his survivors on Cemetery Ridge, but his division and the entire corps were finished as a fighting force.

Humphreys was promoted to major general of volunteers on July 8, 1863, [13] and finally acceded to Meade's request to serve as his chief of staff [14] he did not have much of a division left to command. He served in that position through the Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns that fall, and the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864. In November 1864, he assumed command of the II Corps, which he led for the rest of the siege and during the pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee to Appomattox Court House and surrender. On March 13, 1865, he was breveted brigadier general in the regular army and then on May 26, 1865, he was awarded brevet major general in the regular army for "gallant and meritorious service at the battle of Gettysburg" [15] for the Battle of Sayler's Creek during Lee's retreat.


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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02464.16.01 Author/Creator: Sedgwick, John (1813-1864) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 10 October circa 1863 Pagination: 1 p. 20.4 x 12.5 cm.

Year inferred from content. General Sedgwick writes to Humphreys as "Maj Genl Humphries Chief of Staff." Discusses the position of heavy artillery at [Piney?] Mountain. Notes that General Wright (possibly Horatio Wright) will examine the artillery.

Humphreys became Chief of Staff for General George Gordon Meade in July of 1863. In May 1863, Wright was given command of the 1st Division, 6th Corps, Army of the Potomac under Major General Sedgwick.

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