David Henry Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
David Henry Williams
Born (1819-03-19)March 19, 1819
Otsego County, New York
Died June 1, 1891(1891-06-01) (aged 72)
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Buried Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1847–1848
Rank Colonel
Brigadier general appointment expired without confirmation
Commands held 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars Mexican–American War
American Civil War

David Henry Williams (March 19, 1819 – June 1, 1891) was a railroad surveyor, civil engineer and writer in civilian life. He was a volunteer in the United States Army during the Mexican–American War and a volunteer Union Army colonel during the American Civil War. He was appointed colonel of the 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment on July 23, 1861. He was appointed a brigadier general in the Union Army on November 29, 1862 but his appointment expired on March 4, 1863 without being confirmed by the United States Senate. His actual highest rank remained colonel. After the expiration of his appointment in 1863, Williams resigned from the Union Army and returned to his career as a civil engineer and, after his health soon declined, a writer for newspapers and magazines.

Early life[edit]

David Henry Williams was born in Otsego County, New York on March 19, 1819.[1][2][3]

Williams moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1837.[2] He was a railroad surveyor for 10 years.[4]

Mexican–American War and aftermath[edit]

Williams served as a volunteer in the Mexican–American War.[1] Historian Ezra J. Warner wrote that Williams's obituary stated that he served in the Mexican-American War but he is not listed as an officer in F. B. Heitman's Historical Register.[4][5] Historian Stewart Sifakis wrote that Williams served "apparently as an enlisted man."[6]

After the Mexican-American War, Williams moved to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, now part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1] He practiced engineering and became interested in the militia.[4][6]

American Civil War[edit]

The 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was organized as the 31st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment and served under that designation until the Battle of Fair Oaks. Thereafter, the 2nd Reserve Regiment was given the designation 31st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment and the original regiment was renumbered as the 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.[6] Williams was the first colonel of the regiment, having been appointed July 23, 1861.[1][4]

Williams commanded the regiment during the Peninsula Campaign, where the unit was in action at the Siege of Yorktown and at the Seven Days Battles during which the regiment suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Seven Pines and Battle of Malvern Hill.[4] The regiment did not become engaged in heavy combat in the Maryland Campaign or the Battle of Fredericksburg and suffered few losses in them.[4][6]

Williams was appointed a brigadier general on November 29, 1862.[1][4] The appointment expired on March 4, 1863 without having been confirmed.[1][4]

Warner notes that Williams's last appearance in the Official Records was January 31, 1863 when he was commander of the 82nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in the division commanded by Charles Devens.[4][7]

Williams resigned from the Union Army in early 1863 and returned to Allegheny (Pittsburgh).[1][4]

Later life and death[edit]

Williams returned to engineering after he resigned from the Union Army.[6] Warner states that he was a professor of engineering after his return to Allegheny.[4] After a short time, his health deteriorated and he became a prolific writer for newspapers and magazines.[4][6]

David Henry Williams died on June 1, 1891 at Allegheny, Pennsylvania.[1][4] He is buried at Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. p. 615.
  2. ^ a b Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 978-0-8071-0822-2. p. 560.
  3. ^ Warner includes Williams in "Generals in Blue." Eicher lists him among the "might-have-beens" who were appointed or nominated but never confirmed or duly commissioned.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Warner, 1964, p. 561.
  5. ^ Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army; From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903. Vol. 1 of 2 vols. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903. OCLC 1200947. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4. p. 717.
  7. ^ United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901. (Principally prepare by Robert N. Scott) OCLC 427057. ISBN 978-0-918678-07-2.