Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BABCOCK, Orville E., soldier, born in Franklin, Vermont, 25 December 1835 ; drowned in Mosquito Inlet, Fla., 2 June 1884. He was graduated at West Point, and entered the engineer corps as 2d lieutenant 6 May 1861. Promoted, 17 November 1861, to a first lieutenancy, he constructed, in February 1862, a pontoon bridge at Harper's Ferry for Banks's movement to Winchester. He was made a captain in the engineer corps on 1 June 1863, and was with the 9th corps at the surrender of Vicksburg, and in the east Tennessee campaign, taking part in the battle of Blue Lick Springs and subsequent actions, and at the siege of Knoxville. On 29 March 1864, he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed aide-de-camp to General Grant, in which capacity he served in the battles of the Wilderness and subsequent operations of the army of the Potomac. On 13 March 1865, he was brevetted Brigadier-General of volunteers. At the surrender of Lee at Appomattox he selected the place where the generals met. He was promoted a colonel in the regular army on 25 July 1866, and served as aide-de-camp to the general-in-chief until General Grant was inaugurated president, when he was assigned to duty with the president and acted as his secretary. He was appointed superintending engineer of public buildings and grounds in 1871, and supervised the construction of Washington aqueduct, the chain bridge across the Potomac, Ana-costa bridge, and the east wing of the department offices, and also the plans for the improvement of Washington and Georgetown harbors. In January 1876, he was indicted by the grand jury of St. Louis for complicity in revenue frauds. He demanded a court martial, but was brought to trial in the civil court in February and acquitted, with the aid of a deposition by President Grant.
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