A Civil War Biography

Joseph Haydn Potter

Potter was born 12 October 1822 in Concord, New Hampshire. He entered West Point in July of 1839 and graduated 22nd, one rank below Ulysses S. Grant, in the class of 1843. Potter entered active service on 1 July 1843 as a brevet 2nd lieutenant and was assigned to the 1st US infantry on garrison duty in Iowa and then Missouri. He was sent to Texas in 1845 and was promoted to 2nd lieutenant in the 7th US infantry. After being severely wounded during the war with Mexico while storming enemy positions for which he was brevetted, he was assigned to recruiting duty. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 30 October 1847 and served on garrison duty until 1856. He was promoted to captain on 9 January 1856 and took part in the army's the expedition into Utah in 1858.

Potter was at Fort Bliss, Texas on court marshal duty when Texas left the Union. He was captured at St. Augustine Springs on 27 July 1861 and would not be exchanged until 2 August 1862. He returned to active service and was appointed colonel of the 12th New Hampshire volunteer regiment on 27 September 1862. He commanded the 12th during the Rappahannock campaign in late 1862, and at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville where he was wounded and captured. He was brevetted lieutenant colonel and colonel in the regular army for his actions at the latter two battles. He was paroled on 17 May 1863, two weeks after his capture but was not exchanged until October 1863. While waiting to be exchanged he was promoted to major on 4 July 1863. After he was exchanged Potter was assigned as assistant provost-marshal general of Ohio where he served from February to September 1864. He was assigned command of a brigade in the XVIII Corps which was part of the Army of the James and saw action on the Bermuda Hundred front during the attack on Fort Harrison. He was given command of the 2nd brigade, 3rd division in the XXIV Corps on 3 December 1864. Then in January 1865 he was assigned as the XXIV Corps' chief of staff and was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers on 13 March 1865. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 1 May 1865. He remained chief of staff fin the XXIV Corps until after the end of the war. He was mustered out of the volunteer service on 15 January 1866.

Following the war Potter remained in the army and was assigned as a lieutenant colonel in the 30th US infantry on 28 July 1866. He held various posts on the frontier and was promoted to colonel on 11 December 1873. He served as governor of soldier's home in Washington DC from 1 July 1877 until 1 July 1881 then returned to the infantry and was assigned command of a regiment at Fort Supply, Indian Territory. On 1 April 1886 he was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army and given command of the Department of Missouri. He retired from the army on 12 October 1886. Potter died 1 December 1892 in Columber, Ohio.

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