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W.H. Pettes

W.H. Pettes

Federal (USV)

Lieutenant Colonel

William Henry Pettes

(1808 - 1880)

Home State: New York

Education: Norwich University, USMA, Class of 1832;Class Rank: 23/45

Command Billet: Commanding Regiment

Branch of Service: Engineers

Unit: 50th New York Engineers

Before Antietam

He was a student (cadet) at Norwich from 1824-26 and graduated from West Point on 1 July 1832. He was appointed brevet 2nd Lieutenant, First United States Artillery, assigned to garrisons at Beaufort, NC and Ft. Monroe, VA and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 30 September 1833. He was part of the Creek Nation removal (from Alabama to Oklahoma), posted to Charleston, SC, and briefly in action during the Seminole War in Florida. He resigned his commission on 11 September 1836.

He then worked as a civil engineer on public harbor and river projects and buildings in and near Buffalo, NY.

By then age 52, he enrolled on 10 September 1861 and was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the 50th New York Infantry on 18 September - they were designated Engineers on 22 October - and served in Washington, DC and on the Peninsular Campaign of 1862.

On the Campaign

He was in command of the 50th NY Engineers, part of the Volunteer Engineer Brigade of the General Headquarters, Army of the Potomac. The brigade was detailed to Washington DC September 7, 1862 for the duration of the Maryland Campaign.

The rest of the War

He and the Brigade were again in action on the Rappahannock and Gettysburg Campaigns, and he was promoted to Colonel on 3 June 1863. He was afterward largely at the Engineer Depot in Washington, DC, and commanded that post from April 1864 to June 1865. He mustered out of service on 14 June 1865.

References & notes

His service from the Adjutant General1 and Cullum2. His Cullum Number is 684. Personal details from Norwich University 3 and family genealogists, at least one of whom has his birth year as 1815 (which seems unlikely). His picture from a photograph at the Library of Congress.

He married Ann Sophronia Mansfield (1823-1858) in January 1840 and they had 3 children. Ann's sister Minerva and her husband Otis L. Wheelock had adopted the youngest child, daughter Charlotte (b. 1850), by 1870.


12/24/1808; Windsor, VT


02/29/1880; Fort Washington, MD


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905  [AotW citation 26128]

2   Cullum, George Washington, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the US Military Academy, 2nd Edition, 3 vols., New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1868-79, Vol. I, pp. 517-518  [AotW citation 26129]

3   Ellis, William Arba, compiler and editor, and MGen. Grenville Mellen Dodge, publisher, Norwich University, 1819-1911; Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, 3 Volumes, Montpelier: The Capital City Press, 1911, pp. 196-197  [AotW citation 26130]