Seth Eastman

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Seth Eastman (1808-1875) - Born 24 Jan 1808 in Brunswick, Maine. A career U.S. Army infantry officer and accomplished artist who served in the Second Seminole War and in the U.S. Civil War and who was a United States Military Academy graduate. Died 31 Aug 1875, Washington, DC.

Lt. Colonel (bvt Brigadier General) Seth Eastman 1860s

He entered the United States Military Academy 1 Jul 1824 and graduated 1 Jul 1829 in the Class of 1829, ranking 22nd out of 46. He entered service as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Infantry stationed at Fort Crawford (1), Wisconsin. In 1833, he returned to the United States Military Academy at West Point as an assistant instructor of drawing (as used in mapmaking and illustration) where he served for seven years. Between 1849 and 1855 he served in Washington DC as a illustrator for "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States", published in six volumes between 1852 and 1857.

He served in the Second Seminole War and in the U.S. Civil War until he was retired 3 Dec 1863 for disability, "resulting from long and faithful service, and disease and exposure in the line of duty." He continued to serve in non-combat roles throughout the war and was promoted to the rank of Bvt Brigadier General, U. S. Army on 9 Aug 1866.

He was placed under orders to the Secretary of the Interior, September 1867, to February 1870 during which he completed a series of nine paintings for the U.S. House of Representatives depicting American Indian life. In 1870 he was commissioned by Congress to create a series of paintings of important U.S. fortifications. He completed 16 paintings before his death in 1875 and was finishing the 17th, West Point, when he died.

General Eastman died 31 Aug 1875 in Washington, DC and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Eastman's first wife was a 16 year old native American woman named Wakanin ajin win who he married while posted at Fort Snelling in 1831. They had a daughter, Mary Nancy Eastman (Winona) in 1832. As was common practice in the time, Eastman dissolved the marriage when he departed Fort Snelling in 1833.

Eastman's second wife, Mary Henderson Eastman, author, born in Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1818. She married Captain Eastman in 1835, and resided with him for many years at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and at other frontier stations. Her portrayal of Indian life came from long observation and familiarity with the Indian culture. She published:

  • "Dacotah, or Life and Legends of the Sioux" (New York, 1849).
  • "Romance of Indian Life" (Philadelphia, 1852).
  • "Aunt Phillis's Cabin," a reply to Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852).
  • "American Aboriginal Portfolio." illustrated by her husband (1853).
  • "Chicora and other Regions of the Conquerors and the Conquered" (1854).
  • "Tales of Fashionable Life" (1856)
  • Numerous stories and sketches in magazines.

Their son, Robert Langdon Eastman, born in Maryland about 1840; died in Washington, DC, 7 Nov 1865. He graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in May 1861, and soon after participated in the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861. He served with the Army of the Potomac, rising to the grade of captain, until he was incapacitated by disease. After the battle of Malvern Hill he was ordered to West Point , and, though suffering from illness, performed the duty of assistant professor of drawing and of ethics until it was impossible for him to continue. He died on 7 Nov 1865 while on sick leave at Washington, DC and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Father: Robert Eastman

Mother: Sarah Lee Eastman


  • Wakanin ajin win (1815-18??) - Married 1831 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Marriage dissolved in 1833.
  • Mary Henderson (1818-1865) - Married 1835 at West Point, born in Virginia about 1818; died in Washington, D. C., 24 Feb 1880.


  • by Wakanin ajin win
    • Mary Nancy Eastman (1832-1858)
  • by Mary Henderson
    • Robert Langdon Eastman 1836-1865) born in Maryland
    • Thomas Eastman (1838-1888) born in New York
    • Virginia Eastman (1843-????) born in Minnesota
    • Frank Eastman (1844-????) born Minnesota
    • John Eastman (1845-????) born Minnesota
    • Harvey Eastman (1853-????) born Washington DC


Personal Description: Height: Build: Hair Color: Eye Color:



  • John Francis McDermott, Seth Eastman, Pictorial Historian of the Indian (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961)
  • John Francis McDermott, Seth Eastman's Mississippi (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973)
  • A Seth Eastman Sketchbook (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961)

Seth Eastman Fort Pictures

  1. Fort Rice, ND
  2. Fort Defiance, NM
  3. Fort Taylor, FL
  4. Fort Snelling, MN
  5. Fort Delaware, DE
  6. Fort Scammel and Fort Gorges
  7. Fort Tompkins (1) and Fort Wadsworth, NY
  8. Fort Trumbull, CT
  9. Fort Mifflin, PA
  10. Fort Mackinac, MI
  11. West Point, NY
  12. Fort Knox, ME
  13. Fort Lafayette, NY
  14. Fort Jefferson, FL
  15. Fort Sumter, SC, Before the war
  16. Fort Sumter, SC, After the War
  17. Fort Sumter, SC, After the Bombardment
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