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Isaac Ingalls Stevens

STEVENS, Isaac Ingalls, soldier, born in Andover, Massachusetts, 28 March, 1818; died near Chantilly, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1 September, 1862. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1839, ranking first in his class, and was commissioned as 2d lieutenant of engineers. He was promoted 1st lieutenant on 1 July, 1840, and served as adjutant of the corps of engineers during the war with Mexico, being engaged at the siege of Vera Cruz and at Cerro Gordo, at Contreras and Churubusco, where he gained the brevet of captain, at Chapultepec, of major, at Molino del Rey, and at the taking of the city of Mexico, where he was severely wounded. He superintended fortifications on the New England coast in 1841-'7 and in 1848-'9, and had charge of the coast-survey office in Washington, D. C., from 14 September, 1849, till 17 March, 1853, when he resigned, having been appointed governor of Washington territory, tie was at the same time placed in charge of the exploration of the northern route for a Pacific railroad. In 1853, at the head of a large exploring party, he surveyed a route between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Puget sound, and established the navigability of the upper Missouri and Columbia rivers for steamers. He was superintendent of Indian affairs by virtue of his office of governor, and in 1854-'5 he made treaties with the Indian tribes of the territory by which they relinquished their titles to more than 100,000 square miles of land. He also crossed the Rocky mountains to conclude a treaty, in October, 1855, of friendship with the Blackfeet Indians, at the same time intervening successfully to make peace between them and the hunting tribes of Washington and Oregon. While he was absent on this expedition the disaffected Indians of Washington territory rose against the whites. He returned before January, 1856, called out 1,000 volunteers, and conducted a campaign against the revolted Indians that was so vigorous and successful that before the close of 1856 they were subdued and their chiefs slain. White sympathizers with the Indians were taken from their homes and confined in the towns, and, when Chief-Justice Edward Lander issued a writ of habeas corpus for their release, Governor Stevens declared two counties under martial law, and on 7 May, 1856, caused Judge Lander to be arrested in his courtroom, and held him a prisoner till the close of the war. He resigned in August, 1857, and was elected a delegate to congress for two successive terms, serving from 7 December, 185'7, till 3 March, 1861. In congress he vindicated his course in the Indian war, and saw his treaties confirmed, and the scrip that he had issued to pay the volunteers assumed by the government. In the presidential canvass of 1860 he acted as chairman of the executive committee of the Breckinridge wing of the Democratic party. But when the leaders of his party afterward declared for secession, he publicly denounced them, and urged President Buchanan to remove John B. Floyd and Jacob Thompson from his cabinet. At the intelligence of the firing on Fort Sumter he hastened from the Pacific coast to Washington, and was appointed colonel of the 79th regiment of New York volunteers, known as the Highlanders. The regiment had lost heavily at Bull Run, and expected to be sent home to recruit. Disappointment at being kept in the field and commanded by regular army officers caused eight companies to mutiny. The courage and wisdom with which he restored discipline won the respect of the men, who, by their own desire, were transferred to his brigade when he was commissioned as brigadier-general on 28 September, 1861, and took part in the Port Royal expedition. He attacked the Confederate batteries on the Coo-saw in January, 1862, and captured them with the co-operation of the gun-boats. In June he was engaged in actions on Stono river, and commanded the main column in an unsuccessful assault on the enemy's position near Secessionville. After the retreat of General George B. McClellan from his position before Richmond, General Stevens was ordered to Virginia. He commanded a division at Newport News, and was made a major-general on 4 July, 1862, serving under General John Pope in the campaign in northern Virginia. He was engaged in skirmishes on the Rappahannock, distinguished himself at Manassas, and while leading his division at the battle of Chantilly was killed with the colors of the 79th regiment in his hand. He published "Campaigns of the Rio Grande and Mexico, with Notices of the Recent Work of Major Ripley" (New York, 1851), and ''Report of Explorations for a Route for the Pacific Railroad near the 47th and 49th Parallels of North Latitude, from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Puget Sound," which was printed by order of congress (2 vols., Washington, 1855-'60).

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