(1825 - 1910)
Home State: Ohio
Branch of Service: Staff
Unit: Army of the Potomac
As a young man he was an operator for the Morse Telegraph Company and by 1852 was head of the Chicago branch, Union Telegraph Company. In 1859 and 1860 he was supervising a gold mine in Montgomery County, NC, but he returned to Ohio at the start of the war.
In 1861, he was appointed Assistant General Superintendent of the United States Military Telegraph, then a civilian organization, and worked at the War Department in Washington, DC. In February 1862 he was assigned to the Army of the Potomac and was appointed Major and additional Aide-de-camp, USA on 7 April 1862 (and also held concurrent commission as a Captain and Assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers July 1862-February 1867).
On the Campaign
He was on General McClellan's staff and supervisor of "telegraphic operations" on the Maryland Campaign.
The rest of the War
In April 1863 he was appointed head of the Military Telegraph Office at the War Department in Washington, DC. He was honored by brevets to Lieutenant Colonel and Brigadier General of Volunteers in March 1865 for his war service.
After the War
He was Assistant Secretary of War from 27 July 1866 to 28 February 1867, when he resigned his post and Army commissions. Afterward he was Superintendant successively of Western Union, the Pacific Telegraph Company, and American Union Telegraph. From 1893 to 1900 he was the president of Western Union Telegraph Company and then was Chairman of the Board into 1910.
References & notes
His service from Heitman.1 His role on the Maryland Campaign from an extract of General McClellan's report of operations of the Army of the Potomac.2 Personal details from family genealogists, the US Census of 1860, and a bio sketch in the New York Times of 5 September 1897 [pdf]. His gravesite is on Findagrave. His picture from an 1865 photograph at the Library of Congress.
He married Emeline Dore "Emma" Whitney (1833-1868) in December 1850 and they had 4 children. He married again, the wealthy widow Joanna Carlton Rice Seitzinger (1843-).
More on the Web
There's an excellent wartime photograph of him in the field with men of the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps at the Library of Congress.
See a fine discussion of Eckert's relationship with President Lincoln, from the Lehrman Institute.
His wartime papers are online from the Huntington Library [finding aid, source also of some bio details above].
04/23/1825; St. Clairsville, OH
10/20/1910; Long Branch, NJ; burial in Saint Patrick's Old Cathedral Churchyard, Manhattan, 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, Vol. 1, pg. 396 [AotW citation 28870]
2 US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Series I, Vol. 5 (serial #5), pg. 31 [AotW citation 28871]