Humphreys Andrew Atkinson 181083

Andrew Humphreys (see Plate HI) was born in Philadelphia on 2 November 1810, to a family of naval architects and constructors. After graduation from West Point in 1831 he was assigned to the Corps of Topographical Engineers, spending much of his time on hydrographical surveys of the Mississippi Delta until the Civil War broke out.

Assigned to the staff of George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, in 1861, Humphreys was named a brigadier-general of volunteers in April 1862. He served during the Peninsula campaign as the army's chief topographical engineer, a post well fitted for his methodical and precise character. In September 1862 he was given command of a newly recruited division in V Corps, which he quickly brought to a high state of combat readiness. Colonel Charles Wainwright noted at Fredericksburg that December that "Humphreys's division of entirely new troops quite rivaled the old Second Corps." He led them with distinction in the Antietam campaign, at Fredericksburg in December, and at Chancellorsville in May 1863, where he proved himself to be iron-willed and always cool in action.

Given command of a division in III Corps, Humphreys held off attacks at Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863) by superior Confederate forces. For this action he was named a major-general of volunteers, as well as a brevet brigadier-general in the regular army. General Meade asked him to become chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac, in which appointment he served until November 1864. The initial announcement came as a surprise to many; Marsena Patrick noted in his diary on 9 July, "Gen. Humphreys was announced as Chief of Staff, to the surprise of all, as it has been understood that Gen. Warren would have that position." Patrick did not think much of Humphreys' suitability; however, his service met with the approval of Meade and, later, of Grant.

Atkinson Field Images
Andrew Atkinson Humphreys photographed in the field when he was still serving as chief topographical engineer of the Army of the Potomac. He was one of the few officers who made a successful transition from staff to field command.

When Winfield Hancock's ill health forced him to give up his command in November 1864, Grant picked Humphreys to lake over the veteran but worn-down II Corps. Grant's aide, Horace Porter, reflected headquarters thinking when he wrote, "His appointment was recognized as eminently fitting, and met with favor throughout the entire army"; but this was not wholly true. John Gibbon, the senior divisional commander in the corps, took great exception to being passed over. He asked to be relieved, while assuring Humphreys that he was doing so not out of a refusal to serve under him but because he felt he was being slighted. As to Humphreys, Gibbon said, the general was "one of the most accomplished soldiers and highest-toned gentlemen in the army." Luckily for the army, Grant declined to give in to Gibbon, whom he retained in command of his division.

Humphreys did an excellent job in revitalizing the II Corps, leading it in all operations up to Appomattox. He was given the rank of brevet major-general in the regular army for his gallantry at Sailor's Creek. After the war, in August 1 HOC) he was named a brigadier-general in the regular army, with the post of chief of engineers. He served in this position until he retired in 1879. He also produced an excellent account entitled The Virginia Campaign of 1S64-65. He died in Washington, DC on 27 December 1883.

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