William B. Hazen

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William Babcock Hazen (1830-1887) - Born 27 Sep 1830, West Hartford, Vermont. A career U.S. Army Infantry officer and United States Military Academy graduate who served during the U.S. Civil War, became Chief Signal Officer and rose to the rank of Bvt. Major General and regular Brigadier General. Died 16 Jan 1887, Washington DC and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

William B. Hazen, Library of Congress

He entered the United States Military Academy 1 Sep 1851 and graduated 1 Jul 1855 in the Class of 1855 ranking 28th out of 34. He was initially assigned to the 4th U.S. Infantry as a brevet 2nd lieutenant.

Rogue River Indian War

His first duty assignment was at Fort Reading, Shasta County, California. During the Rogue River Indian War he was assigned to Fort Lane in southwestern Oregon, where he was engaged in skirmishes at Applegate Creek on 3 Jan 1856, and at Big Kanyon on 12 Feb 1856. Hazen conducted the Rogue River Indians to the Grande Ronde Reservation that same year. He sited and began construction on Fort Yamhill, Oregon, in 1856. He left Fort Yamhill in April 1857 to join his regiment in Texas and was replaced by Lt. Philip H. Sheridan who continued the construction on Fort Yamhill.

Texas Frontier

In 1858 he was on frontier duty conducting recruits to Texas, with his headquarters at Fort Davis (1), Jeff Davis County, Texas. In 1859 he was engaged in scouting and participated in actions against Kickapoo Indians on 20 Mar and 5 Oct 1859 and against Comanches on 3 Nov 1859. In the action against the Comanches Lt. Hazen was severely wounded but he remained in the field for four days before he was placed upon a horse and sent back to Fort Inge.

U.S. Civil War Years

At the start of the U.S. Civil War 2nd Lt. Hazen was assistant instructor of infantry tactics at the United States Military Academy. He remained there until 18 Sep 1861 and was promoted in April to 1st Lt., to captain on 14 May. He recruited the 41st U.S. Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and became its colonel on 29 Oct 1861.

He defended the Ohio frontier and took part in operations in Kentucky. He took command of a brigade on 6 Jan 1862, and served with distinction at the Battle of Shiloh on 6-7 Apr 1862; he was in the siege of Corinth 29 Apr to 5 Jun of that year. In the battle of Stone's River, 12 Oct 1862, he protected the left wing of the army from being turned by simultaneous assaults in front and flank. In the operations resulting in the battle of Chickamauga Hazen commanded a brigade, and at Missionary Ridge he captured eighteen pieces of artillery.

General Hazen marched with General William T. Sherman from Atlanta to the sea, and later north through Columbia, South Carolina. He participated in thirteen campaigns, became a brigadier general of volunteers 29 Nov 1862 and a major general two years later. He was brevetted after the battle of Chickamauga, the battle of Chattanooga, in the capture of Atlanta, after his capture of Fort McAllister (1), and he became a brevet major general, 13 Mar 1865.

At the end of the war in the grand review of the Federal army in Washington D.C., General Hazen marched at the head of the Fifteenth Corps of the Army of the Tennessee.

The Indian Resettlement

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General Hazen was granted leave of absence on 29 Aug 1870 for the purpose of going abroad as military observer with the German army during the Franco-Prussian War. At Brussels, 22 Sep 1870, Hazen was given permission to join the German armies by Lord Chancellor Count Bismarck. Hazen's leave expired 20 Jan 1871, he took command of Fort Gibson (1) ten days later.

General Hazen married Miss Mildred McLean 15 Feb 1871, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Washington McLean of Cincinnati, and sister of John R. McLean, editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Miss McLean had been educated by governesses and at the Ursulin Convent; she was very accomplished, speaking French, German and Italian. The Hazens occupied the large stone headquarters house at Fort Gibson (1), and the arrival of the bride caused quite a sensation in the frontier village. Accounts of persons living there at the time say Mrs. Hazen was accompanied by a French maid to care for her and her ten trunks of finery. She is said to have been the most stylish woman who ever lived at that post. She mingled freely with the women of Fort Gibson (1) and was popular. She was a fine horse woman and frequently went on hunts for deer and turkey; at times she even hunted bear and buffalo.

Hazen was in command of Fort Gibson (1) from 30 Jan, to 30 Sep 1871. General Pope ordered Fort Gibson (1) abandoned on 25 Sep 1871, the four companies of the 6th U.S. Infantry left the post for Fort Hays (1). General Hazen formally evacuated Fort Gibson (1) on 30 Sep 1871 for Fort Hays (1) on Big Creek, Kansas. In 1874 he was in command of Fort Buford, Dakota Territory, near the mouth of the Yellowstone River.

From Fort Buford General Hazen was sent as military attache to Austria; he made his headquarters at Vienna from 1 Sep 1877, to 1878. During the time he was abroad he served as observer during the Turko-Russian War (1876-1877).

The 1880 U.S. Census shows General Hazen back at Fort Buford with his brother but without his wife.

Chief Signal Officer

On 3 Nov 1880 President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Hazen Chief Signal Officer with headquarters in the War Department. He served in this post from 15 Dec 1880, to 16 Jan 1887. A significant portion of his duties involved the fledgling weather service and he employed scientists as observers, introducing cold wave signals and suggested the standard-time meridians at present in use. He established the use of local and railway weather signals, organized special observations for cotton producing states and warnings of frost.

Army 1st Lt. Adolphus W. Greely's Arctic Expedition of 1881 took 25 men to the Arctic to establish a meteorological station at Lady Franklin Bay. The station was named Fort Conger and served as the base station for exploration of the interior. Resupply ships failed to reach Fort Conger in 1882 and 1883 and the expedition was in trouble. Greely moved the survivors to a predetermined rescue point and spent another winter before being rescued in June 1884. Only Greely and five other men survived. The expedition had been under General Hazen's command and Hazen was publicly critical of the failed attempts to reach the expedition and blamed Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln. General Hazen was censured by President Grover Cleveland after a general courts martial but with just a slap on the wrist and he continued with his duties and rank.

General Hazen died unexpectedly in Washington DC, 16 Jan 1887. His wife was in Europe when he died and among those in attendance at the end was Captain Adolphus W. Greely. General Hazen was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery (Section 1, Grave 15).

Father: Stillman Hazen (1792-1880) Born 3 Aug 1792 in Hartford, Virginia. Died 12 Jun 1880 in Hiram, Ohio.

Mother: Ferona Fenno (1796-1864) Born 17 Sep 1796 in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. Died 23 Sep 1864 in Talleyrand, Iowa


  • Mildred McLean (1850-1931) Married 15 Feb 1871 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Born 1850, Cincinnati, Ohio. Died 21 Feb 1931.


  • John McLean Hazen (1876-1898) Born 24 Oct 1876. Died 25 Sep 1898.


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  • Cooper, Edward S., William Babcock Hazen: The Best Hated Man, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (October 2005), ISBN-10:0838640893, ISBN-13:978-0838640890

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