A Civil War Biography

William Babcock Hazen

Hazen was born 27 September 1830 in West Hartford, Vermont. In 1833 his family relocated to Hiram, Ohio. He entered West Point in 1851 and graduated 28th in the class of 1855. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant and assigned to the 8th US infantry. He served on the frontier in California and Oregon and fought against Klamath and Rogue River Indians. In 1858 he was transferred, with the 8th, to Texas. He led an expedition against the Mescalero Apaches in July 1859. He led two expeditions against the Comanche's, the first beginning on 29 September 1859 and the second on 30 October 1859. During the latter he was severely wounded but remained in command until the hostiles were defeated. He was appointed assistant instructor of infantry tactics at West Point in February 1861 and was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 6 April 1861.

On 14 May 1861, after the war started, Hazen was promoted to captain in the 8th US infantry. In the fall of 1861 he helped raise the 41st Ohio volunteer regiment. He became the regiment's colonel on 29 October 1861 and commanded it on the Ohio frontier and in operations in Kentucky. The 41st was brigaded with the 9th Indiana and the 6th Kentucky. Hazen was given command of this brigade which was designated the 19th brigade in the 4th division of the Army of the Tennessee on 6 January 1862. He led the brigade at Shiloh and Perryville. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on 29 November 1862. He commanded the 2nd brigade of the 2nd division of Thomas L. Crittenden's left wing of the Army of the Cumberland at Stone's River. In 1863 Hazen erected what would be the first monument to honor fallen soldiers on the field at Stone's River. He remained in command of the brigade, by then designated the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, XXI Corps, at Chickamauga. He commanded the 2nd brigade, 3rd division, IV Corps at Chattanooga, Knoxville, and during the Atlanta campaign. He commanded the 2nd division of the XV Corps during the march to the sea. With his division he assaulted and captured Fort McAllister, Georgia on 13 December 1864, for which he was promoted to major general of volunteers that same day. He was brevetted both brigadier and major general in the regular army on 13 March 1865. He was given command of the XV Corps on 19 May 1865 and finished the war in that command, his field service ending on 1 August 1865.

Hazen remained in the regular army after the war ended. He was assigned with the rank of colonel in the 38th US infantry and was engaged in fighting Indians on the frontier. He was an observer during the Franco-Prussian War. While stationed at Fort Buford, Dakota he brought charges against the post-traders, the revelation of which were damaging to Secretary of War William W. Belknap. Hazen was the US military attaché at Vienna during the Russo-Turkish war. He succeeded Albert J. Meyer as chief signal officer with the rank of brigadier general on 8 December 1880. In September 1883 when Hazen urged Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln to send a relief expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska in search of an expedition commanded by A. W. Greely that had become lost and Lincoln refused, Hazen severely criticized the secretary of war. He was court-martialed and reprimanded but remained in the army. While chief signal officer Hazen was credited with introducing many innovations, most notably what he called the cold-wave signal, the use of local and railway weather signals, frost warnings, and providing weather forecasts for vessels in bound from Europe. He published "The School and the Army in Germany and France, with a Diary of Siege-Life at Versailles " in 1872; "Barren Lands of the Interior of the United States" in 1874; and "Narrative of a Military Career" Boston, 1885. Hazen died on 16 January 1887 when he slipped into a diabetic coma brought on by kidney malfunction.

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