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Halleck, Henry W., major-general, was born at
Westernville, Oneida, county, N. Y., Jan. 16, 1815.  After a
common-school education, received at Hudson academy, and a
partial course at Union college, he entered the United States
military academy July 1, 1835, graduating four years later
third in a class of thirty-one.  On July 1, 1839, he was
appointed second lieutenant in the engineer corps of the army,
and from his marked ability and skill as an instructor, while
still a cadet, was retained as assistant professor of
engineering at the academy until June 28, 1840.  During the
next year he acted as assistant to the board of engineers at
Washington, D. C., and was thence transferred to assist in the
construction of the fortifications in New York harbor.  Here
he remained several years, with the exception of time spent in
1845 on a tour of inspection of public works in Europe,
receiving while absent a promotion to first lieutenant.  At
the outbreak of the war with Mexico, he was sent to California
as engineer of military operations for the Pacific coast, and
after a seven-months, voyage in the transport Lexington,
reached Monterey, Cal., which he partially fortified as a port
of refuge for the Pacific fleet, and a base for incursions
into California by land.  In his military capacity he
accompanied several expeditions; in that of Col. Burton into
Lower California, he acted as chief of staff to that officer,
and took part in the skirmishes of Palos Prietos and Urias,
Nov. 19-20, 1847; with a few volunteers made a forced march to
San Antonio, March 16, 1848, surprising a large Mexican
garrison and nearly capturing the governor, and was engaged at
Todos Santos on March 30.  He was also aid-de-camp to Com.
Shubrick in naval operations on the coast, among which was the
capture of Mazatlan (of which for a time he was lieutenant-
governor), and for "gallant and meritorious services," received
the commission of captain by brevet, to date from May 1, 1847.  
As secretary under the military governments of Gens. Mason and
Riley, he displayed "great energy, high administrative
qualities, excellent judgment and admirable adaptability to
his varied and onerous duties," and as a member of the
convention, called to meet at Monterey, Sept. 1, 1849, to
frame a constitution for the state of California, he was
substantially the author of that instrument.  On Dec. 21,
1852, he was appointed inspector and engineer of lighthouses;
from April 11, 1853, was a member of the board of engineers
for fortifications of the Pacific coast, receiving the
promotion of captain of engineers on July 1 and retained all
these positions until Aug. 1, 1854, when he resigned from the
army to become the head of the most prominent law firm in San
Francisco, with large interests and much valuable property in
the state, with whose development and prosperity his name was
identified.  In 1860-61 he was major-general of the militia of
California, and at the outbreak of the Civil war tendered his
services to the government, and was appointed major-general of
recommendation of Gen. Scott, his commission dating Aug. 19,
1861 regulars at the urgent.  On Nov. 18 he took command of
the Department of Missouri, with headquarters at St. Louis,
where his vigorous rule soon established order.  After the
victory at Shiloh Halleck took the field, having, March 11,
1862, succeeded to the command of the Department of the
Mississippi, and the siege of Corinth took place under his
personal direction.  After the evacuation by the enemy, and in
the midst of the fortification of Corinth against his return
from the south, Halleck was visited by two assistant
secretaries of war and one U. S. senator, to urge his
acceptance of the office of general-in-chief, which had been
tendered him, but which he declined until events in the
Peninsular campaign forced his acceptance of the honor on July
From Washington, on Oct. 28, he wrote the letter which
constitutes "the only official explanation of the final
removal of McClellan from command, Nov. 7." After Gen. Grant
became lieutenant-general of the army, Halleck remained at
Washington as chief of staff March 12, 1864, to April 19, 1865
and from April 22 to July 1 of the latter year was in command
of the military division of the James with headquarters at
Richmond.  On Aug. 30 he took command of the division of the
Pacific, from which he was relieved by Gen. George H. Thomas,
and on March 16, 1869, was transferred to that of the South,
with headquarters at Louisville, Ky. Gen. Halleck died at
Louisville, Jan. 9, 1872.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 8