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William Henry French (American National Biography)

Scholarship

Broeck N. Oder, "French, William Henry," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00253.html.

Commissioned second lieutenant in the First Artillery, French served in the Second Seminole War and the Cherokee removals in 1837-1838. Promoted to first lieutenant in 1838, French spent the next several years along the Canadian border during periods of heightened tension there. During the Mexican War, French served in diverse capacities, including aide-de-camp to Brigadier General (later president) Franklin Pierce, winning brevets to captain and major during actions at Cerro Gordo, Contreras, and Churubusco. French became a captain in 1848 and spent the next thirteen years in routine duties on the frontier, in Florida during the Third Seminole War, and on a three-officer board revising the army's manual for light artillery tactics.

The secession of Texas in February 1861 found French at Fort Duncan (Eagle Pass) with five companies of the First Artillery. The rapid collapse of Federal authority in Texas left French in a precarious position, but despite numerous difficulties, he led a combined battalion of artillery and infantry on a long march to the Gulf of Mexico and sailed for Fort Taylor at Key West, Florida, in March 1861. He vigorously suppressed secessionist stirrings there in the spring of 1861, attracting favorable notice from his superiors.

How to Cite This Page: "William Henry French (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/21261.