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R. King

R. King

Federal (USV)

Brigadier General

Rufus King

(1814 - 1876)

Home State: New York

Education: US Military Academy, West Point, NY, Class of 1833;Class Rank: 4

Command Billet: Commanding Division

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st Division, 1st Corps

Before Antietam

From a famous family, he attended Columbia College (his father Charles, longtime editor and publisher, was President there 1849-63), then West Point, graduating in 1833. He was assigned to the Engineers, but resigned in 1836. He was then editor for several New York papers and also adjutant general of New York while William Seward was Governor.

He moved to Milwaukee in the Wisconsin Territory in 1845. He was active in politics and was a newspaper editor. He was a member of the 1848 constitutional convention, superintendent of schools, and a regent of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1861 he was appointed by President Lincoln as Minister to the Papal States.

On 17 May 1861 he was appointed Brigadier General and organzed a brigade of the 5th and 6th Wisconsin and the 19th Indiana - the start of what was later known as the "Iron Brigade". In early 1862 he was assigned Division command under McDowell, and fought through the battle of Second Bull Run, then went to garrison duty at Washington.

On the Campaign

From Washington, King's division proceeded to South Mountain, where he was relieved of his command, and his active miliatry career ended. He was replaced by Brigadier General John P. Hatch. He was probably removed because of his involvement in the command confusion in McDowell 's Headquarters on 28 August, immediately after Gainesville - which may have resulted from his relinquishing command because of an epileptic event.

The rest of the War

He later performed garrison duty at Fortress Monroe, sat on Fitz John Porter's Court-Martial, and served as governor at Norfolk, Virginia. He resigned on October 20, 1863 and resumed the post as Minister at Rome.

References & notes

Service summary from Heitman1, family and professional life from Appleton's2. Photo from Uriguen.3


01/26/1814; New York City, NY


10/13/1876; in NY


1   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, pg. 600  [AotW citation 390]

2   Fiske, John, and James Grant Wilson, editors, Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, 6 vols., New York City: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889  [AotW citation 391]

3   Uriguen, Mikel, Photo Gallery (Generals and Brevet Generals), Generals of the Civil War, Published c. 1998, first accessed 01 January 1998, <>, Source page: /ngk/kingr.htm  [AotW citation 392]