Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Eckert, Thomas Thompson

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ECKERT, Thomas Thompson, telegrapher, b. in St. Clairsville, Ohio, 23 April, 1825. In 1849 he was appointed postmaster at Wooster, Ohio, and as he had learned telegraphy, the wires were brought into his office. In 1852 he supervised the construction of the telegraph line between Pittsburg and Chicago, over the Fort Wayne route, and was offered the superintendency. When the lines under his management were made a part of the Western Union telegraph company, his jurisdiction became largely extended. In 1859 he left this to superintend the affairs of a gold-mining company in Montgomery county, N. C., where he remained until the civil war began, when he removed to Cincinnati. He was called to take charge of the military telegraph office at the headquarters of Gen. McClellan, and in 1862 accompanied that officer to the peninsula as superintendent of the military telegraph, Department of the Potomac, with the rank of captain and assistant quartermaster. In September he was called to Washington to establish the military telegraph headquarters in the war department buildings, and was promoted to the rank of major. From this time till the close of the war he was on intimate terms with President Lincoln and Sec. Stanton. In 1864 he was brevetted lieutenant-colonel, and afterward brigadier-general. The same year he was appointed assistant secretary of war, retaining the office till 1866, when he resigned and became general superintendent of the eastern division of the lines of the Western Union telegraph company. In 1875 he became president of the Atlantic and Pacific telegraph company, and in 1880 president of the American Union telegraph company. On the consolidation of these companies with the Western Union telegraph company, in 1881, he returned to the service of the latter company as vice-president and manager, later becoming president.