Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Webb, Samuel Blatchley
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Webb, Samuel Blatchley
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WEBB, Samuel Blatchley, soldier, b. in Wethersfield, Conn., 15 Dec., 1753; d. in Claverack, N. Y., 3 Dec., 1807. He was descended from Richard Webb, of Gloucestershire, England, who was made a freeman of Boston in 1632, and accompanied the Rev. Thomas Hooker in the settlement of Hartford, Conn., in 1635. He was a step-son and private secretary to Silas Deane, and took part at an early age in the movements that preceded the Revolution. In command of a company of light infantry he left Wethersfield for Boston on hearing of the battle of Lexington, participated in the battle of Bunker Hill, where he was wounded, and was commended in general orders for gallantry. A letter that he wrote to his step-father describing that battle is now possessed by the Connecticut historical society at Hartford. He was soon afterward appointed aide to Gen. Israel Putnam, and on 21 June, 1776, was made private secretary and aide-de-camp to Washington, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He wrote the order for promulgating the Declaration of Independence in New York city, 9 July, 1776, and was associated with Col. Joseph Reed a few days later in refusing to receive a letter from Lord Howe that was addressed to “George Washington, Esq.” He was present at the battle of Long Island, was wounded at White Plains and Trenton, and was engaged also at Princeton. He raised and organized, almost entirely at his own expense, the 3d Connecticut regiment, of which he assumed command in 1777. He took part with it in Gen. Samuel H. Parsons's unfortunate expedition to Long Island, was captured with his command by the British fleet, 10 Dec., 1777, and was not exchanged till 1780, when he took command of the light infantry, with the brevet rank of brigadier-general. He arranged the meeting between Washington and Rochambeau at Wethersfield, Conn., 19 May, 1781, and was a founder of the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783. When Washington took the oath of office as first president of the United States, Gen. Webb was selected to hold the Bible on which he was sworn. From 1789 till his death he resided at Claverack, Columbia co., N. Y. —
His son, James Watson, journalist, b. in Claverack, N. Y., 8 Feb., 1802; d. in New York city, 7 June, 1884, was educated at Cooperstown, N. Y., entered the army as 2d lieutenant in 1819, and became 1st lieutenant in 1823, assistant commissary of subsistence in 1824, and adjutant of the 3d regiment in 1826. In 1827 he resigned and became editor of the New York “Courier,” which had been established the same year, and in 1829 he purchased the “Enquirer,” and united the two under the name of the “Morning Courier and New York Enquirer.” To expedite the business of reporting, Mr. Webb established a daily horse-express between New York and Washington, with relays of horses every six miles of the way. This cost him $7,500 a month, but enabled him to obtain news twenty-four hours before his rivals. He owned and edited the “Courier and Enquirer” till June, 1861, when it was merged in the “World.” During the existence of the Whig party his paper was the chief advocate of its principles. In June, 1842, he fought a duel with Thomas F. Marshall, a member of congress from Kentucky, concerning whom he had published an article, and was wounded. He was indicted by the New York grand jury in November “for leaving the state with the intention of giving or receiving a challenge,” pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to the full penalty under the law, but was pardoned after two weeks' detention. In 1843 he became engineer-in-chief of the state of New York with the rank of major-general, and in 1849 he was appointed minister to Austria, but was rejected by the senate. At the beginning of the civil war he applied for an appointment as major-general of volunteers, which was refused; but he was offered a brigadier-generalship, which he declined. He refused the mission to Turkey in 1861, but was immediately appointed minister to Brazil, in which office he secured the settlement of long-standing claims against that country, and, through his intimacy with Napoleon III., aided in procuring the withdrawal of the French from Mexico. He resigned the Brazilian mission in 1869 and returned to New York in 1870. He published “Altowan, or Incidents of Life and Adventure in the Rocky Mountains” (2 vols., New York, 1846); “Slavery and Its Tendencies” (Washington, 1856); and a pamphlet on “National Currency” (New York, 1875). — James Watson's son, Alexander Stewart, soldier, b. in New York city, 15 Feb., 1835, was educated at private schools and at the U. S. military academy, where he was graduated 13th in a class of 34 in 1855, and assigned to the artillery. He served in Florida, Minnesota, and for three years as assistant professor at West Point, became 1st lieutenant in the 2d artillery, 28 April, 1861, captain in the 11th infantry, 14 May, and major of the 1st Rhode Island artillery on 14 Sept. He was present at Bull Run and in the defences of Washington until 1862, when he participated in the battles of the peninsula campaign of the Army of the Potomac and as chief-of-staff of the 5th corps during the Maryland and Rappahannock campaigns till 23 June, 1863. He was then commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers, and placed in command of a brigade of the 2d corps, serving with great credit at the battle of Gettysburg. At the “angle” he met the famous charge of Pickett's Confederate division, and took the major part in its repulse. He was wounded while leading his men, and received from Gen. George G. Meade a bronze medal for “distinguished personal gallantry on that ever-memorable field.” During the Rapidan campaign he commanded a division in the battle of Bristow Station and auxiliary affairs. Gen. Webb then returned to the command of his brigade, and led it with ability during the Wilderness campaign, being severely wounded at the battle of Spottsylvania in May, 1864. On his return from sick-leave he was appointed chief-of-staff to Gen. George G. Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac in the operations before Petersburg. From June, 1865, till February, 1866, Gen. Webb was acting as inspector-general of the military division of the Atlantic, and then he was professor at the military academy till August, 1868. On the reorganization of the army he became lieutenant-colonel of the 44th infantry, 28 July, 1866, and commanded his new regiment in 1868-'9 and (with his brevet rank) the 5th military district in April, 1869, and was, at his own request, discharged the service, 3 Dec., 1870. He was brevetted major, U. S. A., 3 July, 1863, “for gallant and meritorious services” at Gettysburg; lieutenant-colonel, U. S. A., 11 Oct., 1863, for Bristow Station; colonel, U. S. A., 12 May, 1864, for Spottsylvania; major-general of volunteers, 1 Aug., 1864, “for gallant and distinguished conduct”; and brigadier-general and major-general, U. S. A., 13 March, 1865, “for gallant and meritorious services in the campaign terminating with the surrender of the insurgent army under Gen. Lee.” Gen. Webb has been since 21 July, 1869, president of the College of the city of New York, and in 1870 the degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him by Hobart college. He has published “The Peninsula: McClellan's Campaign of 1862” (New York, 1882) and articles on the civil war, in the “Century” magazine. Another son of Samuel Blatchley, Henry Livingston, soldier, b. in Claverack, N. Y., 6 Feb., 1795; d. in Makanda, Ill., 5 Oct., 1876, settled in southern Illinois in 1817, and was repeatedly a member of both houses of the legislature. He was a major of volunteers in the Black Hawk war, colonel of the 18th regiment, U. S. infantry, in the Mexican war, and was afterward a general of Illinois militia.