George Washington Cullum

George Washington Cullum

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George Washington Cullum (February 25, 1809 – February 28, 1892) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 soldier, engineer and writer. He served as a general in the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, primarily serving in the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...


Birth and early years

Cullum was born in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, but was raised in Meadville, Pennsylvania
Meadville, Pennsylvania
Meadville is a city in and the county seat of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city is generally considered part of the Pittsburgh Tri-State and is within 40 miles of Erie, Pennsylvania. It was the first permanent settlement in northwest Pennsylvania...

. He graduated from the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

, ranking third in the Class of 1833. He joined the Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 and supervised a number of construction projects on the East Coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

. Cullum served as the engineer in charge of the construction of Fort Trumbull in New London, Connecticut. He was promoted to captain
Captain (OF-2)
The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery...

 in 1838 and held this rank until the outbreak of the civil war. He was an instructor of engineering at West Point from 1848 to 1855, and published the forerunner of his Biographical Register in 1850. Cullum took two years leave of absence for health reasons, and traveled throughout Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and the West Indies while recuperating.

Civil War service

From April 1861 Cullum was a lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 and aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

 to General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

, before becoming chief engineer of the Department of the Missouri
Department of the Missouri
Department of the Missouri was a division of the United States Army that functioned through the American Civil War and the Indian Wars afterwards.-Civil War:...

 in November 1861. He was appointed brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 of volunteers to rank from November 1, 1862 on November 10, 1862 but President Lincoln had to submit the nomination four times before the U.S. Senate finally confirmed it on March 11, 1863. He later superintended engineering works on the Western rivers and was chief engineer at the Siege of Corinth
Siege of Corinth
The Siege of Corinth was an American Civil War battle fought from April 29 to May 30, 1862, in Corinth, Mississippi.-Background:...

. He was superintendent of the military academy from 1864 to 1866. On March 8, 1866, President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 nominated Cullum to be appointed to the grade of brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

, USA, to rank from March 1866, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the award on May 4, 1866 and reconfirmed it July 14, 1866 after the dates of rank of staff officers were adjusted to follow those of field officers. He was mustered out of the volunteers on September 1, 1866.

After the war, Cullum remained in the Regular Army
Regular Army
The Regular Army of the United States was and is the successor to the Continental Army as the country's permanent, professional military establishment. Even in modern times the professional core of the United States Army continues to be called the Regular Army...

 at a variety of engineering posts, supervising several projects to strengthen America's coastal defenses. He retired from active service January 13, 1874 with the rank of colonel and returned to New York City. Following his retirement, he married Elizabeth Hamilton, sister of Major General Schuyler Hamilton
Schuyler Hamilton
Schuyler Hamilton was an American soldier, a grandson of Alexander Hamilton. He was born in New York, graduated at West Point in 1841, served with great gallantry in the Mexican War, and was brevetted first lieutenant in 1846 and captain in 1847. From the latter year until 1854 he was...

 and widow of Major General Henry W. Halleck.

He published:
  • Systems of Military Bridges (1863)
  • Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy (1868; third edition, 1891–1910)
  • Campaigns and Engineers of the War of 1812-15 (1879)

On his death in New York City in 1892, he left part of his fortune to be used for the erection of the Memorial Hall at West Point, for the continuance of his Biographical Register and for an award of the American Geographical Society
American Geographical Society
The American Geographical Society is an organization of professional geographers, founded in 1851 in New York City. Most fellows of the society are Americans, but among them have always been a significant number of fellows from around the world...

 (of which he was vice-president) “to those who distinguish themselves by geographical discoveries or in the advancement of geographical science”, known as the Cullum Geographical Medal
Cullum Geographical Medal
The Cullum Geographical Medal is one of the oldest awards of the American Geographical Society. It was established in the will of Major General George Washington Cullum , the vice president of the Society, and is awarded "to those who distinguish themselves by geographical discoveries or in the...


See also

  • List of American Civil War generals (Union)

External links