Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Engineer And Soldier

John Newton received his appointment to Union Major General March 30th 1863.

John Newton was born August 25th 1822 in Norfolk, Virginia the son of United States Congressman Thomas and Margaret (Jordan) Newton Jr.  He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating second in the class of 1842.  He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and taught the subject from 1843 to 1846 at the Academy.  After which Newton served in engineering work along the Atlantic coast, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf Coast.

When the Civil War began, Newton stayed loyal to the Union.  He helped with the construction of the defenses of Washington, DC.  He was leading a brigade during the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns, and fought at the Battle of Antietam.  Newton had become a division commander in the VI Corps by the Battle of Fredericksburg.  He was among the officers who traveled to Washington, DC to complained to United States President Abraham Lincoln of their lack of confidence in their commander; Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside.  On March 30th 1863 Newton was appointed Major General.  He was wounded during the Chancellorsville Campaign at Salem Church.  During the Battle of Gettysburg Newton took command of the I Corps of the Army of the Potomac after the death of Union Major General John F Reynolds, and would continue in that position until the army was reorganized in 1864.  He was then placed in commanded of a division in the IV Corps during the Atlanta Campaign.  After this he was moved to command of the District of Key West, with his last campaign of the war a defeat at the Battle of Natural Bridge in Florida in March 1865.

After the war Newton returned to the Corps of Engineers.  He would oversee the improvements of the waters around New York City, and the Hudson River south of Albany, New York.  He was appointed Chief of Engineers in 1884.  On October 10th 1885 Newton used 140 tons of dynamite and blew up New York’s Hell Gate Rock.  He retired from the Army in 1886, serving as a Commissioner of Public Works in New York City, and as President of the Panama Railroad Company.  Newton died May 1st 1895 in New York City, New York, and is buried in the cemetery at West Point.

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