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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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his clear hand. * * * j thank you for the notice
concerning Rosecrans.

Again (December 3, 1S78):

Col. Crane's statement of the battle of Thompson's
Hill is so plain, so natural, and-describes so well what one
feels and sees in his first fight, that it carries conviction
into the reader's mind. It has been of great use to me, as
well asColburn's reports. The narrative of his prison life
is of the same character. I keep it for the future, as I in-
tend to discuss the whole question of the treatment of the
prisoners on both sides quite to the end of my work. I
received the pamphlet on that subject mentioned in your
letter of the 4th. In that of the 6lh you mention the bal-
ance of the Legend of the .Army of the Cumberland, and
the copy of the official notice of the commencement and
termination of the Slaveholders' Rebellion as being dis-
patched at the same time; these papers have reached me
safely. 1 shall look for Gen. T. Oliver's letter on the sup-
ercedure of Rosecrans by Gen, Thomas in the first pack-
age sent by you through Humphreys. At the time I re-
ceived it I picked out only what was for my immediate
use, and the remainder was put aside for future ex-
amination. * * * \"an Home's book is very use-
ful to me. * * * In answer to your letter of the
11th I shall first thank you for having found out the
maps which you had mentioned to me, and could best
procure, but 1 am really sorry and ashamed to see what
amount of trouble it gave you.

His acknowledgment December 21, 1878,
is as follows :

Receive my best thanks for your three letters, dated
November l!)th and 23d, and December -ath, which have
reached me, as well as the papers mentioned in these
letters. I thank you especially for the copy of Gen.
Paine's memorandum or private diary. * * * I thank
you for the very remarkable articles which you did send
me concerning the battle of .Monmouth in 1778, and which
1 read with the greatest pleasure and interest. The
report of Gen. Carr, a manuscript, reached me at the
same time as your last letter. I have no doubt that will
prove very useful to me. As you say, sometimes an inci-
dental remark made without premeditation by an eye-
witness may give the long-sought-for solution of some of
the most difficult problems of history. I quite agree with
you about Warren in regard to his action at Mine Run.

Again (January i, 1879):

I received your slips concerning the death of Reno.

* * * I thank you for sending me the part of the
Legend of the Army of the Cumberland, which e.xplains
the strange blank in Van Home's returns.

On January 17, 1879, he writes :

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letters,
dated December 21st, 27th and 31st, the two last named
ones adorned with the most picturesque engravings. *

* * What you say in your letter irf the 21st concerning
the place where the Federal line was broken at Gettys-
burg, viz., near the Peach Orchard, about Birney's right,
is in accordance with all the best accounts of the battle.

* * * I received the installment of Paine's diary men-
tioned in your letter of the 27th. It will be very useful to
me, especially on account of its accuracy about the dates.

* * * I thank you very much for having at last fur-
nished me with the half page which Dr. \'an Home's
printer had left in blank.

Again (February 10, 1879):

I received a few days ago a letter frorn Gen. Hum-
jihreys informing me that according to your wish he had



sent me a set of maps completed by Gen. Warren, of the
country of the Rapidan and Centreville. * * * i
thank you very much for mentioning the pamphlet of
Col. Brooke Rawle on the operations of the L nited States
cavalry on the right flank at Gettysburg. * * * As you
say, tfie maps are very valuable. * * * I received
to-day the copy of the narrative of the part taken by the
11th N. J. in the Mine Run campaign, by Col. McAllister,
and I shall certainly make use of it when 1 review my
account already written of that campaign.

On March 30, 1S79, he wrote:

I avail myself of the said leisure I can find between
two visits to the sick room, to answer your letters as well
as 1 can. * * * Nevertheless, I can assure you that I
am most grateful for all the information given in your
letters, as Well as for the documents which you take the
trouble to furnish me with. All the papers mentioned in
your letters as having been sent to me separately have
reached me safely. I have in hand the regimental re-
port of the 11th New Jersey, and the narrative of events
from November 2f5th to December 3, 1863, which will be
very useful for the correction of my narrative of the Mine
Run campaign, as well as the " preacher," as you call it, and
I quite agree with you in your judgment on Gen. .McAllis-
ter. Your conversation with Gen. Palmer, as reported m
your letter, is interesting. * * * Your picture of the
relations between .Meade and Webb is very striking, and
I shall keep it in mind. I knew personally very little of
Meade, while Webb was a friend, and still is, and I had
the greatest respect for his military character. I received
alsoall the papers mentioned in your letter of the .>th of
February, viz., the manuscript copied in two different
inks, which is very good concerning the fall of 1863 in
Virginia, and your account of Gen. John Hartranft. I
thank you for both, as well as for the picture you make of
Hartranft in that letter. The balance of Gen. Jlc.-XUister's
diary which, as you say, will merely be useful to me by
its great accuracy, reached me at the same time as your
letter, begun on the 8th and closed on the 14th of Febru-
ary. It gives very carefully the state of the weather,
which is an important element of military operations very
often overlooked in the best narratives. * * * The
particulars given in your letters of February 24th and 26th
about Thomas at the battle of Chickamauga are very in-
teresting. I received the manuscript of \'an Home's
chapter on Chattanooga from his Life of Thomas. It will
no doubt prove very valuable, but I cannot use it before
I have begun myself the account of that campaign, which
implies that I should have ended with Chickamauga.
Please therefore tell me whether you wish it to be re-
turned, or whether I may keep it for some time. * * *
I thank you very much for remarks on \'an Home's Chat-
tanooga,'which will be very useful as soon as I reach that
period of the campaign. * * * You are quite right
when you say that good and clear maps are sadly wanted
for the easy intelligence of Van Home's .Army of the
Cumberland. Hissmall map of the battle of Chickamau-
ga is perfectly wretched, and unfortunately I know of no
better one.

It would require a volume to record the
notable literary and critical achievements, the
remarkable forecasts of political and military
events, the practical suggestions which have
been adopted and found to be of great public
utility, and the solution of difficult problems
in medical and general science through intui-
tion, close reasoning and the application of
extensive reading, of which General de Peyster
has been the author. A few e.xamples, which



COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD.



161



readily occur to mind, will be noted miscel-
laneously, with no attempt to classify them.

Through his wide reading, giving him a
knowledge of a similar phenomenon following
ancient eruptions of volcanoes, he was one of
the first to give an account of the pink sunsets
which occurred for several years after the fa-
mous eruption of the Javanese Krakatoa, in
August, 1883. In the "Bulletin of the Amer-
ican Geographical Society" [Vol. XXI, No. i,
March 31, 1889, p. 117, note] he is given
credit for calling the attention of geographers
to a notable case of the kind. "Gen. J. Watts
de Peyster," says the writer, "has found * - -
Berthelot's account of the strange skies seen
after the eruption of Skaptar jTikull in 1783."

General de Peyster is the author of a re-
markable discussion of the question, " Did Our
Blessed Saviour Speak Greek.'" This paper
enjoyed the distinction of being read before
the Society of Literature, Arts and Science of
London, England.

For a number of years he was vice-presi-
dent of the Saratoga Battlefield Monument, in
connection with which he did effective work.
He resigned when he found his efforts were
unavailing to restrain what he considered waste
and innocent misapplication of the funds. He
donated an historical cannon to the monument.

In addition to his many other services, and
proffer of services during the Civil war, it
should be noted that the General offered his
extensive new buildings near the corner of
Broadway and Thirty-sixth street, free of
charge, to the city of New York, to the Fed-
eral Government, as quarters for recruits in
1861.

Again, General de Peyster was one of the
first to recognize the infectious or contagious
nature of consumption. His notable gifts of
hospitals for the care of consumptives has been
already mentioned.

The General defended John Brown, in his
assaults on slavery, on the principle that, un-
justifiable as he might be in his method of war-
fare upon slavery, he was surpassed in this
respect by the slave-holders in their attacks
upon freedom in the North. The General
was the first to suggest the employment of
negroes as soldiers in the Civil war, and was
reviled by his Democratic neighbors on account
of his advocacy of views so radical. At the
close of the war, however, he protested against
the indiscriminate conferring of the electoral
franchise upon the negroes of the South. It
11



was not alone the general condition of illit-
eracy which influenced his judgment, but a
clear foresight of the condition of things (which
he prophesiedj which resulted; that the pro-
posed measure nmst inevitably defeat the
political end for which it was intended, and
only give the South increased representation
while leaving the power in the hands of the
whites as securely as ever, and strengthening
their influence materially in national politics.

General de Peyster had a number of unique
experiences during his travels in Europe as
military agent of the State of New York. He
saved the Italian soldier, Siro Pesci, a fol-
lower of Mazzini, from condemnation to the
salt mines at Sardinia, from which few ever re-
turn alive, after long terms of service. He
secured passports for the Italian as his servant,
and carried him into France (and subse-
quently into Switzerland), to the chagrin of
the Gendarmes, who had an inkling of what
was being done, but could not go behind the
passports.

When we consider General de Peyster's
many works of military criticism on nearly all
the famous wars of Europe, together with his
contemporaneous interpretation of the Euro-
pean wars in progress during his own lifetime,
it is remarkable that he wrote so little on the
Crimean war of 1854-5. But this e.xplained
by the fact that at the time he was immersed
in his historical studies of the Thirty Years'
War, resulting in his various works on this
theme, and notably his remarkable " Life of
Torstenson." But very few men, historians
or military critics, have mastered the facts as
to this prolonged and general European war,
as General de Peyster mastered them. His
astonishing grasp of the topography of
Europe, and of the military situation of the
European States, was demonstrated in connec-
tion with the wars of this century in Europe,
subsequent to that of the Crimea, he being able
to foretell the course of events and the issues of
campaigns with an accuracy which astounded
the best military critics. With the outbreak
of the Franco-Austrian war these remarkable
prophecies began, in his contemporaneous
contributions to the New York Express, in
which he followed and anticipated the military
movements with analysis and forecast. It
chanced that in 1834 he had witnessed just such
a flood in Lombardy as that of 1859, which
hindered and thwarted the combatants, and
particularly the Austrians. Again, in the case



162



COMMEMORATIVE BIOQRAPHICAL RECORD.



ot the Austro-Prussian war of 1866, he was
completely at home, being well-nigh as famil-
iar with the scene of the operations as with his
own farm. He foretold the results of this
struggle, and put his finger upon the decisive
locality. The same thing was true of the
Franco-Prussian war of 1 870-1. He prophe-
sied the Prussian movement upon Sedan, and
its results, in such detail, it was almost an
exact prophecy of the genesis and exodus or
result. The contribution of his critical pen
toward the success of the Federal cause in our
own Civil war is little understood. One can
only say that it would be almost impossible to
overestimate his services.

It would, indeed, be a " work of superero-
gation " to add anything to such estimates of
General de Peyster's remarkable abilities and
phenomenal labors as those which have been
quoted, and it certainly will not be attempted
here. One might say in passing, however,
that if it be true that " a prophet is not with-
out honor save in his own country, " in this case,
honor and recognition abroad, at least, there
a.ssuredly is. Perhaps the best idea of the
honors which have been won by the General
can be conveyed by subjoining a (partial) list
of his many degrees, and memberships. He
would be entitled to write after his name sev-
eral formidable titles.

The reader will find subjoined a partial list
of the published works of General de Peyster.
It is by no means a complete list, for time and
circumstances prevented a perfect presentation,
since many of his most interesting articles on
subjects of the greatest moment and widest
range are scattered in magazines and news-
papers. Were these collected and republished
(which their merit and interest assuredlj' justi-
fies), they would make many additional vol-
umes. But, although incomplete, the following
list will suffice to give some idea of the aston-
ishing versatility of the General's authorship.
The immense range of reading, of which these
•works show themselves to be the fruit, is
also evidenced on every page of the thou-
sands of books to be found in the General's
large library, as well as in connection with the
libraries given away. There probably has
never been a private library of such size brought
together, nor 10,000 to i 5,000 volumes given
away, which through marks and marginal notes
in the available space on nearly every page
afford such evidence of close, thorough and
critical reading. These notes are so charac-



teristic of the General's entire library that they
enhance the value of these volumes for a stu-
dent to a large degree which none but t/ir
student, capable of availing himself of their
help, could understand or appreciate. If books
are a blessing there is also peri/ connected with
their use; but in the marginal notes of these
volumes (the rich fruit of the General's enor-
mous research, astonishing memory and critical
judgment) the student finds that commentary,
or citation of either corroborative or adverse
evidence elsewhere, which only the painstak-
ing investigation of innumerable authorities
could supply — and some of them so rare that
the chances are against the ordinary student's
having the knowledge of their existence, much
less suspecting that they contain anything bear-
ing upon the subject.

I'.-VRTIAL LIST OK I'IIBLICATI()N,S.

Rki'drts — 1st. On thi' Or^anizatiuns of the National
Guards and the Municipal Military Institutions of Europe,
and the ."Xrtillery and Arms best adapted to the State
.Service, 18.52. (Reprinted hy order of the N. V. State
Legislature, Senate Documents, No. 74, March 2H. 18.53.)
2d. Organizations of the English and the Swiss Militia,
the French, Swiss, and Prussian Fire Departments. Sug-
gestions for the Organization of the N. Y. Militia, &c. 1853.

Life of (the Swedish Field Marshal) Leonard Tors*
tenson (rewarded with three splendid Silver Medals, &c.,
by H. R. M. Oscar I., King of Sweden). 18.55.— Thirty
Years War, and Mditary Services of Field-Marshal Gen-
eralissimo Leonard Torstenson (Series), N. Y. Weekly
Mail, 1873 ; A Hero ,if the .WII Century (Torstenson).—
The \'olunteer, Weekly Mag., \'ol. 1., No. 1., 18(ii>.~-The



Career of the celebrated Condottiere Fra Moreale, Weekly

, Mail,
1873. — Eulogy of Torstenson, 4to., 1872.



Mail, 1873. — Frederic the Great. (Series.) Weekly!



The Dutch at the North Pole, and the Dutch in
Maine. 18.57.*

Appendix to the Dutch at the North Pole, lN:c. 18.58.*

Ho, for the North Pole! 1860.—" Little's Living
Age." -The Dutch Battle of the Baltic, 18.58.

The InvincibleArmada. (Series.) 18()0. — Examples
of Intrepidity, as illustrated by the E.xploits and Deaths
of the Dutch Admirals. (Series.) 1860-1. Military
Gazette.

Gems from Dutch History. (Series.) 1855. — A Tale
of l.eipsic, Peabody's Parlor Mag., 1832.

Carausius, the Dutch Augustus, and Emperor of
Britain and the Menapii. 18.58.

The Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Netherlanders.
1858.

Address to the officers of the New York State Troops.
1859.

Life of Lieut.-Gen. (famous " Dutch Vauban" — styled
the "Prince of Engineers") Menno, Baron Cohorn.
(Series.) 18H0.— Military Lessons. (Series.) 1861-3.—
Winter Campaigns. 1862.

Practical Strategy, as illustrated by the Life and
Achievements of a blaster of the Art, the Austrian Field-
Marshal, Traun. 18()3.— Personal and Mditary History i>f
Major-General Philip Kearny, .512 p[)., 8vo. 1869. —
Secession in Switzerland .ind the United States compared ;
being the Annual Address, delivered 20th October, 1863,
before the \'ermont State Historical Society, in the Hall
of Representatives, Capitol, Montpelier. 1864.*

•Noticed as well as others in Annual Report of tlie American
Historical Association, 1895.



COMMEMORATIVE BIOORAPHICAL RECORD.



163



Incidents connectt-d with the War in Italy. (Series.)
1859.

Mortality amont( Generals. (Series.) ISIil. — The
Battle of King's Mountain. (Series.) 1861-2,1880. Oris-
kany, 1878— Monmouth, 1878— Rhode Island, 1878.

Facts or Ideas Indispensible to the Coni]jrehensi()n of
War; Notions on Strategy and Tactics. (Series.) 1861-2.
Eclaireur, .Military Journal. (Edited.) 1854-S. — In Me-
moriam. (Edited.) 1st, 1857 ; 2d, 1862. The Bible in
Prison. 1853. — A Discourse on the Tendency of High
Church Doctrines. 1855.

A Night withCharlesXII. of Sweden. A Nice Young
Man. Parlor Dramas. 1860-1.

Aculco, Oriskany, and Miscellaneous Poems. 1860.

Genealogical References of Old Colonial Families,
&c. 1851.

Biographical Notices of the de Peyster Family, in
connection with the Colonial History of New York.
1861. — Biographies of the Watts, de Peyster, Reade and
Leake Families, in connection with Trinity Churchyard.
1862.— Military (1776-1779) Transactions of Major, after-
wards Colonel Sth or King-'s Foot, B. A., Arent Schuyler
de Peyster and Narrative of the Maritime Discoveries of
his namesake and nephew, Capt. Arent Schuyler de
Peyster, N. Y., 1870. — Local Memorials relating to the
de Peyster and Watts and affiliated families. 1881. In
Memoriam, Frederic de Peyster, Esq., LL.D., Prest. N.
Y. Historical Society, St. Nicholas Society, St. Nicholas
Club, &c., &c. 1882.

Articlks published in United Serinre Magazine
(equal in matter to 12mo. volumes); Torstenson and the
Battle of Janikau, July, 1879; Joshua and the Battle of
Beth-horon — Did the sun and moon stand still? Febru-
ary, 1880; Hannibal, July, lKSO;Gustavus Adolphus, Sept.,
1880; Cavalry, I„ Sei)t., 1880; Cavalry, II., Nov., 1880;
Cavalry, III., Dec, 1880; Army Catastrophes — Destruc-
tion of Pharaoh and his host; how accomijlished, &c., tkc.
February, 1881,— Hannibal's Army of Italy, Mar., 1881;
Hannibal's Last Campaign, May, 1881; Infantry, I., June,
1881; Infantry, II., Aug., 1881; Battle of Eutaw Springs,
1781, Sept., 1881; Siege of Yorktown, 1781, Nov., 1881;
Infantry, III., April, 1882; Waterloo, July, 1882; Vindica-
tion of James Hepburn, Eapl of Bothwell, Sept., 1882,
Oct., 1882; From the Rapidan to Appomattox Court
House, July, 1883. — Burgoyne's Campaign. July-Oct.,
1777, and .-Vppendix, Oct., 1883. — Life and Achievements
of Field-Marshal Generalissimo Suworrow, November-
December, 1883. —Biographical Sketch of Maj-Gen.
Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, U. S. A., March, 1884.—
Address, Maj.-Gen. A. A. Humphreys, before the Third
Army Corps Union, 5th May, 1884. Character and Serv-
ices of Maj.-Gen. A. A. Humphreys, U. S. A., Manhattan,
N. Y., Monthly Magazine, August, 1884.

Suggestions which laid the basis for the present ad-
mirable Paid Fire Department in the City of New York,
in which, as well as in the Organization of the present
Municipal Police of New York City, Gen. de Peyster was
a co-laborer with the Hon. Jas. W. Gerard and G. W.
Matsell, for which latter Department he caused to be
prepared and presented a Fire Escape, a model of sim-
plicity and inestimable utility. Republished in the New
York Hittorir.al Magazine. Supplement, Vol. I.X, 1865.
John P. Shea, Editor and Proprietor.

The Pearl of Pearls, or the " Wild Brunswicker " and
his " Queen of Hearts," a novel, founded on facts, 1865. —
Mary Stuart, a Study, 1882; James Hepburn, Earl of Both-
well, a Vindication, 1882; Bothwell and Mary Stuart, an
Enquiry and a Justification, 1883. — Bothwell, an Histori-
cal Drama, 1884. — The Life and Military Services of Sir
John Johnson, Bart. 1882. — Notices and Correspondence
of Col. A. S. de Peyster and Brig. -Gen. Sir John Johnson,
Bart, during and after the American Revolution, 1776,
&c. 1884.

State Sovereignty. 1861. — Life and Services of the
great Russian Field-Marshal Suworrow. 1882. — La Roy-



ale, the Grand Hunt [or Last Campaign of the Army of
the Potomac] Nos. I., II., III., IV., \"., \'I., 1872; \'II.
1873; \TII., 1871.— Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancel-
lorsville and Gettysburg in Onward, a monthly. 1869-70.
— And Gettysburg and Williamsport, in the ,'io/diers'
Friend, a weekly, 1870.— Col. J. Watts de Peyster, Jr.,
U. S. V. A. Threnody. 1874.— Sir John Johnson, Bart.:
An Address delivered before the N. Y. Historical Society,
6th Jan., 1880, with two voluminous Appendices of author-
ities. — Address before the Historical Society of New
Brunswick, 1883.* — Benjamin Fletcher, Colonial Governor
of the Province of New York — Address before Oneida
(N. Y.) Historical Society.*

Centennial Sketches of the American Revolution,
which apfieared in the N. Y. Timex, and especially in the
N. Y. Evening Mail and Mail and K-rprexs. 1776-82. — De-
cisive Conflicts of the late Civil War or " Slaveholders'
Rebellion:" I. Shiloh, Antietam, iVc.,1867; II. Murfrees-
boro to Chattanooga, &c., 1866; HI. Gettysburg, 1867;
•I\'. Nashville, 1876. — Biographical notices of Major-Gen-
erals Philip Schuyler — Address delivered before the
N. Y. Historical Society, 2d Jan., 1877; Geo. H. Thomas,
(likewise two Addresses delivered upon the same subject
before the N. Y. Historical Society, 5th Jan., 1875, and
Jan., 1876); also of Bancroft, Burnside, Crawford, Heint-
zleman. Hooker, Humphreys, McAllister, Mahone,
Meade, Edwards Pierrepont, Pleasanton, Sickles, Tre-
maine, &c., &c.

The Battles of Monmouth and Capture of Stony
Point; a series of voluminous and exhaustive articles pub-
lished in the Manmouth Enquirer, N. J., 1879. — Eclaireur
(The), a Military Journal, Vols. II. and III., edited 1864-5.

History of the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac,
1861-65. This title, though not technically, is virtually
correct, for in a series of elaborate articles in dailies,
weeklies, monthlies, monographs, addresses, &c., every-
thing relating to this Corps, even to smallest details, from
1861 to 1865, was prepared with care and put in print.
These articles ap]5eared in the Citizen, and the Citizen and
Rdund Table; in Foley's Volunteer, and Soldiers'' and
Sailors' Half-Dime Tales of the late Rebellion; in Mayne
Reid's magazine Onward; in Chaplain Bourne's Suldiem'
Friend; in " La Roy ale or Orand Hunt [or ihe last cam-
paign] of tJie Army of the Potomae, from Petersburg- to
Appomattox Court House, April 2-9, 1865," illustrated
with engraved likenesses of several of the prominent
Generals belonging to the corps, and careful maps and
plans; in the life of Major-General Philip Kearny; in the
"Third Corps at Gettysburg; General Sickles vindicated"
\'ol. I., Nos. XI., xii,xii. The Volunteer; in a Speech de-
livered before the Third Army Corps Union, Sth May,
1875, profusely illustrated with portraits of Generals who