State Highway Marker

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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Commanding Officers of Occupied West Point

Col. Burr Porter
Col. Porter was commander of the Second Brigade at West Point. A brief bio from the History of the
Third Massachusetts Cavalry . . .
Colonel Burr Porter who succeeded Colonel Sargent in command of the Third Cavalry was a gentleman of liberal culture and a soldier of varied experience. He served in three wars and obtained military distinction on two continents. Burr Porter was born in New Hartford Conn Oct 26 1831. After graduating at Rutger's College New Brunswick NJ with high honors and having an ardent love of freedom and liberty he went to Europe and offered his sword to the Turkish Government at the beginning of the Crimean War. He served on the staff of Omar Pasha, was in the siege before Sevastopol and earned distinction and fame being presented with a sword by the Foreign Legion composed of the English and French officers who also served in that war. He came back to New York and was practising law when the Civil War broke out He was among the first to offer his services and at the outset of the struggle served on the staff of General John C Fremont Governor Andrew sent for him and offered him a commission in some Massachusetts regiment Colonel Porter chose the Fortieth and for some time was its Commander Near the close of the war he was made Colonel of the Third Massachusetts Cavalry. He was married in 1868 and an only child Katherine was born in 1869. When the Franco Prussian War broke out his love for the French impelled him to aid France in her hour of need and he went over to organize cavalry. The Army of the Loire being in great distress he offered his sword to the French. He took a staff position with General Clancy. He was killed in action December 10th 1870 and was buried with military honors. His body was later brought to America and his last resting place is in Forest Hills Cemetery Mass.

Col. William Gurney
Colonel Gurney was commander of the First Brigade. Here is his obituary from the New York Times of February 3, 1879 . . .

   Gen. William Gurney, of Charleston, S.C.,
whose death took place in in this City yesterday, was
born at Flushing, Long Island, in 1821. He was of
Quaker extraction. He came to this City in 1837,
and obtained employmentas a clerk in the wholesale
establishment of A.N. Brown, in Dey-street. He
became a junior partner of Mr. Brown, and after-
ward the head of the firm of Gurney & Underhill,
which succeeded the old firm. He always took an
active interest in the Militia in this City, and was
originally a member of the Eighth Regiment. At
the outbreak of the rebellion he was a First Lieu-
tenant in the Seventh Regiment, which he accom-
panied during its three months' term of service.
On his return to this City he accepted a Cap-
tain's commission in the Sixty-fifth Regiment, New-
York Volunteers, commanded by Col. John Cochran.
In 1862 he was appointed Assistant Inspector-Gen-
eral and Examining Officer on the staff of Gov. Mor-
gan, in which position he was required to pass upon
the qualifications of persons applying for commis-
sions in the regiments of this State. In July of that
year he received authority to raise a regiment, and
in 30 days recruited the One Hundred and Twenty-
seventh New-York Volunteers, at the head of which
he returned to the front. Later on in the same year
he was assigned to the command of the Second
Brigade in Gen. Abercrombie's Division. In 1864
he joined the command of Gen. Q.A. Gillmore, who
was then operating on the South Caro-
lina coast. He was severely wounded 
at Denoe's Neck, near Charleston, in December,
1864, and was sent North for medical treatment. On
his recovery he was assigned to duty as Commander
of the post at Charleston, and returned to that city.
He was promoted for gallantry in action to the rank
of Brigadier-General. Gen. Gurney returned to this
City in July, 1865, when he was mustered out of the
service. He then went back with his family to
Charleston, where he established himself as a mer-
chant and cotton factor. He continued to reside
there until about a year ago, when he came North on
account of his health. In 1870 Gen. Gurney was ap-
pointed Treasurer of Charleston County. He was a
member of the Electoral College in 1872 from South
Carolina, and was the Commissioner from that State
in the Centennial Exposition. Gen. Gurney was one
of the originators of the Five Points Mission in this
City, and one of the founders of Continental Lodge,
Free and Accepted Masons. He was a member of
Adelphi Chapter and Morton Commandery, and also
a member of the Veteran Association of the Seventh
Regiment. He was a gentleman of genial spirit and
strict integrity, and had a large circle of warm per-
sonal friends.
General George H. Gordon
And finally the commander of the Second Division, General George H. Gordon. Here is General Gordon's Wikipedia entry and interestingly enough his . . . . Facebook page.

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