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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor

 



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William Starke Rosecrans

ROSECRANS, William Starke, soldier, born in Kingston, Ohio, 6 September, 1819. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1842, standing fifth in his class, and entered the corps of engineers as brevet 2d lieutenant. He served for a year as assistant engineer in the construction of fortification at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and then returned to the military academy, where he remained until 1847 as assistant professor, first of natural and experimental philosophy, and then of engineering. Subsequently he served as superintending engineer in the repairs of Fort Adams, Rhode Island, on surveys of Taunton river and New Bedford harbor, improvements of Providence and Newport harbors, and at the Washington navy-yard until 1 April, 1854, when he resigned, after attaining the rank of 1st lieutenant. He then established himself in Cincinnati as an architect and civil engineer. In 1855 he took charge of the Cannel coal company, Coal river, West Virginia, becoming also in 1856 president of the Coal river navigation company, and in 1857 he organized the Preston coal-oil company, manufacturing kerosene. At tile beginning of the civil war he volunteered as aide to General George B. McClellan, who was then commanding tile Department of the Ohio, and assisted in organizing and equipping home-guards. He was appointed chief engineer of Ohio, with the rank of colonel, on 9 June, 1861, and on 10 June was made colonel of the 23d Ohio volunteers. Soon after organizing Camp Chase, at Columbus, Ohio, he received a commission as brigadier-general in the regular army, to date from 16 May, 1861; he took the field with command of a provisional brigade under General McClellan in western Virginia His first important action was that of Rich Mountain, which he won on 11 July. 1861. After General McClellan's call to higher command, Rosecrans succeeded him, on 25 July, in the Department of the Ohio, which consisted of western Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He had command of the National forces, and defeated General John B. Floyd at Carnifex Ferry, 10 September, 1861, and thwarted all Lee's attempts to gain a footing in western Virginia. These services were recognized by unanimous votes of thanks of the legislatures of Ohio and West Virginia, and in May he was ordered to report to General Henry W. Halleck, before Corinth, and given command of General Eleazar A. Paine's and General David Stanley's divisions in the Army of the Mississippi, with which he participated in the siege of Corinth. He succeeded General John Pope in the command of the Army of the Mississippi, and with four brigades fought the battle of Iuka on 19 September, where he defeated General Sterling Price, after which he returned to Corinth, where, anticipating an attack, he fortified the town, and on 3 and 4 October defeated the Confederate army under General Earl Van Dorn and General Sterling Price, which he pursued for forty miles when he was recalled. On 25 October he was sent to Cincinnati, where he found orders awaiting him to supersede General Don Carlos Buell, and was made commander of the Department of the Cumberland, which was to consist of whatever territory south of the Cumberland he should wrest from the enemy. This command he held from 27 October, 1862, till 19 October, 1863, and during that time conducted a campaign remarkable for brilliant movements and heavy fighting. After reorganizing his army and providing twenty days' rations at Nashville, he advanced on the Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg, on Stone river, 30 December, 1862. On the following morning the Confederates attacked the right wing of the National army and drove it back, while the left wing engaged the Confederate right. Meanwhile Rosecrans was obliged to re-enforce his right, and personally directed the reformation of the wing, thereby saving it from rout, although not without very hard fighting, in which both sides lost heavily. Two days later the battle was renewed by a furious assault on the National lines, but after a sharp contest the enemy was driven back with heavy loss. Unwilling to engage in a general action, the Confederate army retreated to the line of Duck river, and the Army of the Cumberland occupied Murfreesboro'. This battle was one of the bloodiest in the war, and resulted in a loss of 9,511 by the National forces and 9,236 by the Confederates. As soon as Vicksburg was beyond the reach of possible succor from Bragg, by a brilliant flank movement Rosecrans dislodged him from his intrenched camps at Shelbyville and Tullahoma, and in fifteen days, 24 June to 7 July, 1863, drove him out of middle Tennessee. As soon as the railway was repaired, he occupied Bridgeport and Stevenson. From 7 July till 14 August railway bridges and trestles were rebuilt, the road and rolling-stock put in order, supplies pushed forward, and demonstrations made to conceal the point of crossing Tennessee river. From 14 August till 1 September he crossed the Cumberland mountains and the Tennessee river, and, threatening Bragg's communications, compelled him to withdraw from impregnable Chattanooga, 9 September, and retire behind the Chickamauga until Gem Joseph E. Longstreet's arrival with his corps. Rosecrans concentrated his forces with the utmost despatch to meet the inevitable combat. The battle was opened on the 19th by an attempt to gain possession of the road to Chattanooga, continued through the day, and resulted in Rosecrans defeating the attempt and planting General George H. Thomas's corps, re-enforced by General Richard W. Johnson's and General John M. Pahner's divisions, firmly upon that road; but during the night Longstreet came up, and was immediately given command of the Confederate left. On the following morning the contest was renewed by a determined attack on the National left and centre. At this moment, by the misinterpretation of an order, General Thomas J. Wood's division was withdrawn, leaving a gap in the centre, into which General Longstreet pressed his troops, forced Jefferson C. Davis's two brigades out of the line, and cut off Philip H. Sheridan's three brigades of the right, all of which, after a gallant but unsuccessful effort to stem this charge, were ordered to re-form on the Dry Valley road at the first good standing-ground in rear of the position they had lost. The two divisions of Horatio P. Van Cleve and Davis, going to succor the right centre, were partly shattered by this break, and four or five regiments were scattered through the woods, but most of the stragglers stopped with Sheridan's and Davis's commands. The remainder, nearly seven divisions, were unbroken, and continued the fight. The gallant General George H. Thomas, whose orders the night before, reiterated a few moments before this disaster, were to hold his position at all hazards, continued the fight with seven divisions, while General Rosecrans undertook to make such dispositions as would most effectually avert disaster in case the enemy should turn the position by advancing on the Dry Valley road, and capture the remaining commissary stores, then in a valley two or three miles to the west. Fortunately, this advance was not made, the commissary-train was pushed into Chattanooga, the cavalry, ordered down, closed the ways behind the National right, and General Thomas, after the most desperate fighting, drew back at night to Rossville in pursuance of orders from General Rosecrans. On the 22d the army was concentrated at Chattanooga. The battle was a victory to the Confederates only in name; for Chattanooga, the objective point of the campaign, remained in the possession of the National forces. The total National loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, was 16,179; the Confederate loss, 17,804. General Rosecrans was relieved of his command on 23 October, and he was assigned to the Department of the Missouri in January, 1864, with headquarters in St. Louis, where he conducted the military operations that terminated in the defeat and expulsion from the state of the invading Confederate forces under General Price. He was placed on waiting orders at Cincinnati on 10 December, 1864, mustered out of the volunteer service on 15 January, 1866, and resigned from the army on 28 March, 1867, after receiving the brevet of major-general in the regular army for his services at the battle of Stone River. Later in 1867 he was offered the Democratic nomination for governor of California, but declined it. He was appointed minister to Mexico on 27 July, 1868, and held that office until 26 June, 1869, when he returned to the United States, and declined the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio. Subsequently he resumed the practice of engineering, and in 1872-'3 was engaged in an effort to initiate the construction of a vast system of narrow-gauge railways in Mexico, at the instance of President Juarez. He became president in 1871 of the San Jose mining company, and in 1878 of the Safety powder company in San Francisco. He was also intrusted with a charter for an interoceanic railway from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, made by the Mexican republic under considerations urged by him when envoy to Mexico, and he was requested to use his influence to induce American railway building skill and capital to undertake the work. He memorialized congress to cultivate friendly and intimate commercial relations with Mexico, and to encourage and assist the material progress of that country : and at the instance of American and English railway builders, and of President Juarez, he went to Mexico. He had for fifteen months so ably discussed in the newspapers the benefits of railway construction to Mexico that the legislatures of seventeen of the Mexican states passed unanimous resolutions urging their national congress to enact the legislation advocated, and the governors of six other states sent official recommendations to the same effect. In 1876 General Rosecrans declined the Democratic nomination for congress from Nevada. He was elected as a Democrat to congress from California, served from 5 December, 1881, till 4 March, 1885, and was appointed register of the United States treasury in June, 1885, which office he still (1888) holds. For a full account of the Tennessee campaigns, see Gem Henry M. Cist's "Army of the Cumberland" (New York, 1882); "Rosecrans's 'Campaign with the 14th Army Corps, or the Army of the Cumberland," by W. D. Bickham (Cincinnati, 1863): and Van Horne's " History of the Army of the Cumberland" (2 vols., Cincinnati, 1875).--His brother, Sylvester Norton, R. C. bishop, born in Homer. Licking County, Ohio, 5 February, 1827; died in Columbus, Ohio, 21 October, 1878, was graduated with distinguished honor at Kenyon college, Ohio, in 1845. A letter from his brother, General Rosecrans, announcing the conversion of the latter to the Roman Catholic church, turned his thoughts in the same direction. He became a Roman Catholic in 1845, and entered St. John's .college, Fordham, New York, where he was graduated in 1846. He then affiliated himself with the diocese of Cincinnati, and was sent by Bishop Purcell to study theology in the College of the propaganda, Rome, where he received his doctor's degree in 1851. He was ordained in 1852, and returned immediately to the United States. For several months after his arrival he acted as pastor of the Church of St. Thomas in Cincinnati, and he was then appointed one of the pastors at the cathedral, which post he held till 1859. A college was opened in that year for the education of Roman Catholic youths, of which Dr. Rosecrans was made president. He continued to reside in this institution until made bishop of Columbus. He also edited the "Catholic Telegraph," and spent much time in instructing the theological students of his diocese. On 25 March, 1862, he was consecrated as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Cincinnati, under the title of bishop of Pompeiopolis. In 1868 the archdiocese was divided and a new see was erected at Columbus. Dr. Rosecrans was nominated first bishop, and took possession of his see on 3 March of the same year. Shortly afterward the Academy of St. Mary's of the Springs was founded near Columbus, and the bishop began St. Mary's cathedral, one of the first buildings in the city. He also erected St. Aloysius's seminary, and through his initiative numerous other schools were founded. He was taken suddenly ill on Sunday, 20 October, 1878, as he was about to enter his cathedral for vesper service, and died on the following day. Bishop Rosecrans's life was one of great simplicity and self-denial. He lived in the orphan asylum, taught daily in the Academy of the Sacred Heart, and went several times weekly to St. Mary's of the Springs for the same purpose. All that he had he gave to the poor, and he was often obliged to walk long distances, even when in delicate health, because he had not the money to pay his car-fare. All the money that was in his possession at his death was two silver half-dollars.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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