December 28: Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1883)

Andrew Atkinson Humphreys was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, and a Union General in the American Civil War. He served in senior positions in the Army of the Potomac, including division command, chief of staff, and corps command, and was Chief Engineer of the U.S. Army. Humphreys was born in Philadelphia to a family prominent in naval architecture. His grandfather, Joshua, designed “Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution. Andrew graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1831 and spent much of the next thirty years as a civil engineer in the Army. He saw combat in the artillery in the Seminole Wars. Much of his service involved topographical and hydrological surveys of the Mississippi River Delta.

After the outbreak of the Civil War, Humphreys became chief topographical engineer in McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. Initially involved in planning the defenses of Washington, D.C., by March 1862, he shipped out for the Peninsula Campaign. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, his division achieved the farthest advance against fierce Confederate fire; his corps commander, George G. Meade, wrote of Humphreys: “He behaved with distinguished gallantry at Fredericksburg.” For an officer with little combat experience, he inspired his troops with his personal bravery. After the war, Humphreys became a permanent brigadier general and Chief of Engineers, until retirement in 1879, the same year his eldest daughter was buried from Epiphany. Following his death in 1883, Humphreys’ funeral took place in the church. Five years later, his wife’s funeral was there as well. A military base in Northern Virginia was founded during World War I as Camp A. A. Humphreys, named for Andrew A. Humphreys. The post was renamed Fort Belvoir in the 1930s in recognition of the Belvoir plantation that once occupied the site, but the adjacent United States Army Corps of Engineers Humphreys Engineer Center retains part of the original namesake.

< Previous      Next >

No comments yet

Add comment