PART 2    

Major General William Starke Rosecrans


West Point, 1837-1842

West Point was known as an Episcopalian seminary heavy on the classics with the students divided by ability. Rosecrans was put in the superior group. By midterm he was 8th in French and 5th in math. By the end of his second year he was 5th among 231 corps members. The nickname "Old Rosy" stuck.

Upperclassmen were Irvin McDowell, P.G.T. Beauregard, Edward Ord, Isaac Steven, Henry Halleck, George Henry Thomas and William Tecumseh Sherman. His classmates were George Sykes, Earl Van Dorn, Lafayette McLaws, Daniel Hill, Abner Doubleday, and Alexander Stewart - all became Major Generals in the Civil War. His roommate was South Carolinaís James Longstreet. Rosecrans was considered a studious Ohioan and often assisted roommate James Longstreet with classwork.


Cadet "Old Rosy"

William was a social and high spirited individual.  Although he felt dueling stupid, he did manage to get pulled into fighting a duel involving a lady.  Dueling was forbidden and would have met dismissal.  Fortunately the challenger apologized when the excellent marksman Rosecrans selected pistols at 6 paces. 

While West Point taught military skills like marksmanship and riding, it did not teach military strategy. Professor Dennis Hart Mahon taught engineering and started the Napoleon Club to

study Napoleonís campaigns. Only the best cadets became members of the club and joined Professor Mahon on summer encampments where they learned strategy and put it to use. Perhaps the hand in the coat like Napoleon marked those that were in the Napoleon Club.

William excelled in planning the military maneuvers. From this time through the rest of his life he studied everything  he could  find  to read about Napoleon and


Frederick the Great endeavoring to understand their grand strategy.

Napoleon Bonaparte

In the fall of 1841, William Ranked 5th in his class and remained there through graduation. He was considered brilliant in mathematics and found French 'tolerably easy."  

Wikipedia Photo
from kathleenbrzezinsk

During the summer of this last year, Rosecrans had his first encounter with  a  fellow Ohioan Hiram (Ulysses S.) Grant.  Lamers tells the meeting went as follows:  Rosecrans was serving as officer of the day and found Grant in the yard.  "I'm guarding the pump,"  the naive Grant explained.  "I have orders to stand here until the next call."

"You go to bed at tattoo, and douse the lights at taps." Rosecrans told him.

"But how do I know that you are not playing a trick on me too?" asked Grant.

"See my chevrons.  I'm officer of the day."   How much effect this encounter was to have on the rest of their lives is left to the reader's imagination.

When Cadets speculated who would be the most distinguished in later life, by general agreement it was "brilliant Rosy Rosecrans."

At graduation, Miss Anna Elizabeth Hegeman of New York was a house guest of Professor Jacob W. Bailey.  Graduates Gustavus Smith and William invited Misses Susan Bailey and Annie to walk to a local rendezvous spot, the Crow's Nest.  That evening William was in love with "Annie" noted Lamers.

Army Corps of Engineers

The top seven graduates qualified for the Engineering Corps.  Fifth in the class, Rosecrans made second Lieutenant in the Engineering Corps - a feat no other westerner had achieved.  

His  first  assignment  was  to  arrest  the  sea  encroachments  on  Fortress Monroe at Old

Point Comfort in Virginia. The project took a year to complete.  While he enjoyed the challenge of the work, the pay was meager, promotions were slow and the turnover was small.   It was also a distance from Annie in New York.

In April 1843 he made 1st Lieutenant.  He served as First Assistant Engineer.

William wrote to West Point seeking a professorship which he won that summer.  He left Fortress Monroe on the 20th of August, 1843.

Ann Hegeman Marries W. S. Rosecrans

St. Paul's

On August 24, 1843, William married Ann Eliza Hegeman in St. Paulís Chapel in New York. (St. Paulís Chapel is part of Trinity Episcopal Church which remained standing across the street from the twin towers when they fell during 9-11. George Washington attended that church.) Ann was the daughter of Judge Adrian Hegeman. 

Anne Rosecrans

Ann Eliza is usually referred to as Anne.  I suspect she was called "Ann E." to keep her straight from the others named Ann and Eliza in her family.  This was shortened to Anne  which became the General's name for her.

Since this is the General's story, I shall use his spelling of her name.

Knowing William was still just a man from a small town in Ohio who always planned everything, I decided to find out more about  his  wife. 

I quickly  discovered  the  Hegeman family was well known in New York and Anne had a brother William,  When trying to determine why the Rosecrans family moved to Cincinnati, I discovered a William Hegeman married to a Miss Niven in that area. Their daughter Elise Ann married the Honorable Chauncey M.

Depew.  Although several inquiries yielded no help, Mr. John Dobson knew the family descended of Adriaen Hegeman who was an early Dutch settler in New Amsterdam in 1652. He settled on the western side of Long Island.  

The bridegroom's ancestor Harmon Hendrick Rosenkrants came to New Amsterdam and married in 1657. Unfortunately on his wedding day his wife insulted the inn keeper who was the fire warden (an appointee) and they were deported to Holland for a year. Were the early families acquainted?  While the Rosenkrants were movers and spread across the country, the Hegemans stayed in New York. Almost 200 hundred years later the two Dutch families were joined.

Lamers read the many letters from Anne to William and from William to Anne which were kept and said they were full of love and consideration for each other.  It was also helpful for Anne to be from an old and prosperous family.  Years later after Anne's father died, her mother Eliza Hegeman came to live with William and Anne.  Her money helped the family survive in the lean years.  With characteristic Rosecrans bluntness, Sylvester said his brother was "living off his wife."   Eliza continued to make her home with them until she died in Mexico while the General was the Minister to Mexico.

West Point Assistant Professor

Following his wedding,  First Lieutenant Rosecrans was appointed Assistant Professor of Engineering under his old mentor Professor Mahon. The next year he was the Assistant Professor of Philosophy.  For two years  following he was First Assistant Professor of Engineering.  Some of this time he served, by request, as Post Commissary and Quartermaster.  For nine months he was also in charge of erecting cadet barracks.  Professor Mahan found his services "entirely satisfactory."

Some who may have been in his classes were U. S Grant, Thomas J. Wood, Gordon Granger, George McClellan, Stonewall Jackson, George Pickett, Ambrose Burnside, and John Buford.  Many comments made during the war and after make more sense when one remembers where these men stood at West Point.

War with Mexico was declared in 1844.  William's brother Henry served 15 months in a mounted unit under Zachary Taylor for which he was given a land grant in Iowa.  38 of William's 54 classmates also saw action but the military kept their engineers.

In the Rosecransí home there were some rough times. Their first child, William S. was born in 1845 but died soon after. Another boy James Addison also died right away but the dates are not available. Perhaps this spurred Rosecrans to look more closely at his religion.

Search for a Religious Home

As a baby William Rosecrans was baptized by the Methodist circuit rider at his grandmotherís insistence. Williamís father used the Bible as his religion but followed no formal church services. However, both Kenyan College and West Point were Episcopalian.

As an undergraduate, William was impressed by the Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau.

In 1844, an Irish book peddler told William about the Catholic Church and got him to read John Milnerís The End of Religious Controversy. This was an eye opener for William. He converted to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1845 William wrote to his brother who was in his 3rd year and Kenyon College and suggested he read the same book.

Circuit Rider Statue in Washington


Pope Pius IX

Later that year while Sylvester was visiting him, William again suggested he make the conversion. Before he returned home, Sylvester was baptized with William and Anne his godparents. For the remainder of the summer, Sylvester walked from Homer to Mt. Vernon (8 miles) to attend mass - often fasting so he could take communion. In the fall he transferred to a Catholic School in New York. He graduated top in his class and was recommended to attend the Propaganda in Rome to study being a priest. When he completed his studies, he was ordained into the priesthood in Rome. Meanwhile William Rosecrans carried on a long correspondence with Pope Pius IX which is now stored in the Vatican.

Stationed in Newport Harbor

In 1847 William was again in active service and sent to design and rebuild fortifications along the east coast. The family moved to Newport, Rhode Island..   William constructed a military wharf, and worked on the batteries and interior arrangements of forts. He designed a general system of permanent barracks (which was approved by Captain Robert E. Lee) that would be used for 30 years. He also invented a way to dredge 30' deep which was eight times as efficient as using diving bells, and he perfected a rapid way to pour piers underwater.

With the great influx of Irish Catholics into Fort Adams, the Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary's, was founded in 1828 and is the oldest Catholic Parish in Rhode Island.  Patrick Charles Keeley was an architect from Ireland, who designed the church for the congregation in 1848.  Each man in the parish volunteered one day to dig trenches for the footers of the church. While he was stationed at Fort Adams, Rosecrans supervised the construction of this church built of brownstone.  There is a stained glass window dedicated to him in the church.  The gothic architecture is vey similar to St. Joseph's Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio.
Jackie and John F. Kennedy were married in this church in 1953

Rosecrans personal life had its ups and downs in Newport.  His family increased.  Adrian Louis was born May 28, 1849, and Mary Louise were born  in 1851. 

At least one man  was offended by his strong religious conviction and held this against him the rest of his life.  When Rosecrans was chosen to replace Don Carlos Buell as commander of the Army of the Ohio, General Milo Hascall, who was serving under Buell, said of the time in Newport, ďAt that time he seemed to be a great enthusiast in regard to the Catholic Church; seemed to want to think of nothing else, talk of nothing else, and in fact do nothing else, except to proselyte for it and attend upon its ministrations,Ē he continued. ďNo night was ever so dark and tempestuous, that he would not brave the boisterous seas of Newport Harbor to attend mass, and no occasion, however inappropriate, was ever lost sight of to advocate its cause; in fact, he was what would nowadays be called most emphatically a crank on that subject.Ē   Others did not agree but Hascall's resentment  was obvious.

In 1852 Rosecrans was sent to survey Taunton and New Bedford Harbors for permanent improvements.  In three weeks he made 30,000 soundings


Washington Navy Yard

From April through December 1853, Rosecrans was a Civil and Construction Engineer assigned to the Washington Navy Yard. For the family, their time in Washington was a happy time but money was very tight. Anneís father was deceased so her mother Eliza lived with them and added her funds to the family coffers. Father Sylvester said William was "living on his wife" which would not go down well.   Rosecrans served as Superintendent of a Negro Sunday School of 600 children.


Rosecrans was very busy.  He constructed a marine highway, a large sawmill, remodeled and improved the Dahlgren ordnance buildings and made plans for an immense  machine-shop which was a block of buildings 450 by 288 feet to house  anchor, chain, cable, blacksmith, carpenter and block shops.  It was designed to use a single engine to drive all the machinery and a single stack to vent the forges. Once again his efficient design would be followed when the Navy needed to construct other shops. His designs were approved and much admired.  Rosecrans considered this one of his scientific efforts.

Unfortunately, once again he drove himself too hard and his health failed him.  When he asked for three months leave, he was told he could not be spared.  Resolving to leave the service, he sent his resignation to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.  After assuring Rosecrans they needed him, Davis granted him the leave of absence and assured him that if he still felt he must resign after the leave, he would accept his resignation.

After his three month's leave, Rosecrans' health had not improved enough for him to continue in the the military so he was obliged to persist in his resignation which became effective April 1, 1854.

Return to Rosecrans,  Part 1,  Genealogy and Youth
Return to Rosecrans,  Part 2,  West Point, Marriage, Engineers Corps
Return to Rosecrans,  Part 3,  Civilian Inventor, Engineer
Return to Rosecrans,  Part 4,  Civil War
Return to Rosecrans   Part 5:   Post Civil War Civilian
Goto         Rosecrans   Part 6:  Equestrian Statue of
                                                    William S. Rosecrans
                                                     on his horse Boney
Return to Bibliography

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