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20405 Major General Nathaniel P. Banks Back marked E&HT
Anthony, New York, from Photographic Negative in Brady's
National Portrait Gallery with 2 cent revenue stamp. $110
Banks, Nathaniel P., major-general, was born in Waltham, Mass.
Jan. 30, 1816, received a common school education, and then
learned the trade of a machinist in a cotton factory of which his
father was superintendent. He afterwards became editor of a
local paper at Waltham, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and
in 1849 was elected a member of the state legislature. He was
elected speaker of the Massachusetts legislature in 1851,
re-elected in 1852, was chairman of the Massachusetts
constitutional convention in 1853, and was in the same year
elected to Congress as a coalition-democrat. He was re-elected
on the "Know-Knothing" ticket, elected speaker of the house of
representative, after a spirited fight, on the 133rd ballot, and at
the next election was chosen congressman on the republican
ticket. On Dec. 4, 1857, he resigned to become governor of
Massachusetts, was re-elected governor in 1858 and 1859, and in
1860 accepted the presidency of the Illinois Central railroad,
succeeding Gen. George B. McClellan in that capacity.
When the Civil war broke out in the following year, he resigned
his position, was commissioned major-general of volunteers and
assigned to the command of the 5th army corps in the Army of the
Potomac, seeing his first active service along the upper Potomac
and in the Shenandoah valley, in 1861-62.
On March 23, 1862, a part of his troops, under Gen. Shields,
defeated Jackson at Winchester, and the next month at the head
of two divisions, Gen. Banks was assigned to guard the
Shenandoah. When one of the divisions had been withdrawn,
leaving only 8,000 men with Banks, the force was attacked by
Gen. Jackson and defeated, but escaped capture. Gen. Banks
then joined Pope, who had command of the army of Virginia, and
on August 9, was defeated at the battle of Cedar mountain. He
was then for a time in command of the defenses of Washington,
and in Dec., 1862, commanded the expedition to New Orleans,
where he succeeded Gen. B. F. Butler as commander of the
Department of the Gulf.
In the spring of 1863 he commanded the expedition against Port
Hudson, which finally, after several disastrous attempts to storm
it had failed, surrendered on July 9, 1863, when the occupants
learned that Vicksburg had fallen. Early in 1864 Gen. Banks led
the expedition up the Red River, his force strengthened by the
addition of a powerful fleet, and at Sabine cross-roads met defeat
at the hands of Gen. Richard Taylor. On the next day the
Confederates made an attack at Pleasant Hill, but were defeated,
and the army withdrew to Alexandria. There the skill of Gen.
Joseph Bailey saved the fleet, and the whole expedition withdrew
to the Mississippi.
In May, 1864, Gen. Banks was relieved of his command, resigned
his commission, and, returning to Massachusetts, was elected to
Congress, where he served, with the exception of one term, until
1877, being for many years chairman of the committee on foreign
relations. In 1888 he was again elected to Congress, but, after
1890, suffered from a mental disorder and was forced to withdraw
from public life. In 1891 Congress voted him an annual pension of
$1,200, and in 1894 he died.