1863-65: Alfred Perkins Rockwell Letters

Biographical Sketch

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Alfred Perkins Rockwell

Born into a prominent Connecticut family, the geologist, educator, and industrialist Alfred Perkins Rockwell (1834-1903) was at turns a war hero, a professor, and a corporate executive. The son of a two-term Whig congressman, Rockwell received his AB from Yale in 1855, and remained in New Haven for his MA and PhB (1858) at the Sheffield Scientific School. Looking to build a foundation for a career in geology, he furthered his education by taking the standard European tour, spending time at the Museum of Practical Geology in London and at the prestigious Bergakademie at Freiberg, Saxony, where he studied metallurgy and coal geology. During his European sojourn, Rockwell also visited a succession of collieries in Northern England and Germany, familiarizing himself with advanced mining technology and with the economics of the industry.

At the outset of the Civil War, Rockwell returned to the United States and accepted a commission as Captain of the 1st Connecticut Light Artillery. After extensive service in South Carolina, he was named Chief of Artillery on the staff of Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry. Finally, he was named as Colonel of the 6th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the Petersburg Campaign of 1864 and finally a brevet to Brigadier General on March 13, 1865 for “gallant and distinguished services in the field during the campaign of 1864.”

He married Katharine Virginia Foote (1839-1902) after mustering out of the service in June 1865. She was the daughter of Samuel E. (1787-1858) and Elizabeth (Elliott) Foote (1807-1878) of New Haven. He then served briefly on the Board of Visitors at the U.S. Military Academy before returning to his alma mater as professor of mining at the Sheffield School. Barely three years later, he moved to a similar position at MIT, however by 1873, he made the decision to leave academia for other opportunities. In the aftermath of the devastating fire of 1872 that consumed much of downtown Boston, Rockwell was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Fire Commissioners in Boston, after which he served president of the Eastern Railroad (1876-1879) and from 1879 until his retirement in 1886, as treasurer of the Great Falls (N.H.) Manufacturing Co., a textile firm. Rockwell also earned income from land and other investments, including stock in the Minas Nuevas Mining Company, a lead and silver mining company in Mexico.

Never a prolific scholar, Rockwell wrote two books, Great Fires and Fire Extinction (Boston: Little, Brown, 1878) and Roads and Pavements in France (NY: Wiley, 1896). He and his wife had four children, of whom only one survived to adulthood: Mary Foote (1868-1868), Frances Beatrice (1872-1886), Samuel Edmund Foote (1873-1884), and Diana Ward (b. 1873). Rockwell died at his home in New Haven on Dec. 24, 1903.

From the guide to the Alfred P. Rockwell Papers, 1846-1903, (American Philosophical Society)

Joseph Palmer Rockwell (1833-1911) was Alfred’s older brother. “Joe” was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. G, 18th Connecticut Infantry when he was taken prisoner during the Gettysburg Campaign and taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, where he was not paroled until March 1864. After his release, he was allowed to go go home for a time and then required to report to the Parole Camp near Annapolis. He eventually returned to his regiment, was made adjutant in June 1864, and promoted to Captain of Co. C in January 1865. The following lithograph of Joe appears in the regimental history of the 18th Connecticut. I believe the image in the locket is actually of Joe Rockwell although it was labeled as being that if Alfred Rockwell.

See Also: Rockwell Family Papers, 1812-1927 at the Connecticut Historical Society


LETTERS WHILE SERVING AS CAPTAIN OF THE 1ST CONNECTICUT BATTERY

November 23, 1863; (25) Steamer Arago at Sea
November 25, 1863; (24) Folly Island, SC
December 4, 1863; (23) Folly Island, SC
December 11, 1863; (26) Folly Island, SC
December 18, 1863; (29) Folly Island, SC
December 25, 1863; (30) Folly Island, SC
January 2, 1864; (31) Folly Island, SC
January 12, 1864; (32) Folly Island, SC
January 18, 1864; (35) Folly Island, SC
January 26, 1864; (37) Folly Island, SC
February 4, 1864; (39) Folly Island, SC
February 12, 1864; (40) Folly Island, SC
February 21, 1864; (43) Folly Island, SC
February 27, 1864; (42) Folly Island, SC
March 16, 1864; (41) Folly Island, SC [Not transcribed yet]
March 24, 1864; (44) Folly Island, SC [Not transcribed yet]
April 1, 1864; (22) Folly Island, SC
April 2, 1864; (21) Folly Island, SC
April 9, 1864; (20) Folly Island, SC
April 12, 1864; (19) Hilton Head, SC
April 16, 1864; (18) Folly Island, SC
April 21, 1864; (17) Steamer Ellie Knight at Sea
April 24, 1864; (16) Gloucester Point, VA
April 30, 1864; (15) Gloucester Point, VA
May 4, 1864; (14) Steam Transport Convoy
May 7, 1864; (13) In Camp near James River, VA
May 10, 1864; (12) In Camp, Bermuda Hundred, VA
May 14, 1864; (11) In field 10 miles from Richmond near James River, VA
May 15, 1864; (10) In the field 16 miles from Richmond, VA
May 18, 1864; (9) In camp, Bermuda Hundred, VA
May 24, 1864; (8) In camp, Bermuda Hundred, VA
May 26, 1864; (7) In Camp, Bermuda Hundred, VA
June 1, 1864; (6) In the field near Curtis, VA
June 5, 1864; (5) In the field near Curtis, VA
June 9, 1864; (4) In the field near Curtis, VA
June 11, 1864; (3) In the field near Bermuda Hundred, VA
June 13, 1864; (2) In the field, Curtis, VA
June 16, 1864; (1) In the field near Curtis, VA


LETTERS WHILE SERVING AS THE COLONEL OF THE 6TH CONNECTICUT INFANTRY

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Col. Alfred P. Rockwell, 6th Connecticut

June 20, 1864; (46) Steamer John Warner, James River, VA
June 24, 1864; (48) In the field, near Curtis, VA
June 26, 1864; (47) In the field, Bermuda Hundred, VA
June 29, 1864; (47) In the field, near Curtis, VA
June 30, 1864; (51) In the field, near Curtis, VA
July 2, 1864; (49) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 6, 1864; (54) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 11, 1864; (53) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 16, 1864; (52) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 20, 1864; (56) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 21, 1864; (55) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 26, 1864; (59) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 29, 1864; (58) Bermuda Hundred, VA
July 31, 1864; (57) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 8, 1864; (62) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 9, 1864; (60) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 9, 1864; (61) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 10, 1864; (65) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 12, 1864; (64) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 13, 1864; (63) Bermuda Hundred, VA
August 15, 1864; (68) In the field north of James River, VA
August 20, 1864; (67) In the field north of James River, VA
August 30, 1864; (66) Norwich, CT
September 3, 1864; (71) In camp before Petersburg, VA
September 7, 1864; (70) In the field before Petersburg, VA
September 11, 1864; (69) In the field before Petersburg, VA
September 17, 1864; (74) Before Petersburg, VA
September 19, 1864; (73) Before Petersburg, VA
September 22, 1864; (72) Before Petersburg, VA
September 25, 1864; (77) Before Petersburg, VA
September 26, 1864; (76) Before Petersburg, VA
September 30, 1864; (75) In the field north of James River, VA
October 2, 1864; (78) North of the James River, VA
October 4, 1864; (80) North of the James [River], VA
October 8, 1864; (79) North of the James River, VA
October 8, 1864; (82) North of James River, VA
October 10, 1864; (81) North of the James River, VA
October 19, 1864; (85) Before Richmond, VA
October 23, 1864; (84) Before Richmond, VA
October 26, 1864; (83) Before Richmond, VA
October 28, 1864; (88) Before Richmond, VA
October 30, 1864; (87) Before Richmond, VA
November 2, 1864; (86) Before Richmond, VA
November 3, 1864; (90) Before Richmond, VA
November 9, 1864; (89) Steamer John Romer, Pier Foot of 30th St., North River, NY
November 15, 1864; (93) Steamer Ashland, at Sea
November 21, 1864; (92) In the mud before Richmond, VA
November 27, 1864; (91) Before Richmond, VA
December 2, 1864; (96) Before Richmond, VA
December 4, 1864; (95) Before Richmond, VA
December 7, 1864; (94) Before Richmond, VA
December 11, 1864; (95) Before Richmond, VA
December 13, 1864; (98) Before Richmond, VA
December 19, 1864; (97) Before Richmond, VA
December 22, 1864; (98) Before Richmond, VA
December 24, 1864; (97) Before Richmond, VA
December 27, 1864; (96) Before Richmond, VA
December 30, 1864; (104) Before Richmond, VA
January 1, 1865; (102) Before Richmond, VA
January 4, 1865; (105) Bermuda Hundred Landing, VA
January 6, 1864 [1865]; (27) Fortress Monroe, VA
January 14, 1864 [1865]; (33) Before Fort Fisher, NC
January 17, 1864 [1865]; (34) Near Fort Fisher, NC
January 19, 1865; (36) Near Fort Fisher, NC
January 22, 1865; (107) Near Fort Fisher, NC
January 27, 1865; (38) Near Fort Fisher, NC
January 27, 1865; (106) Near Fort Fisher, NC
February 2, 1865; Near Fort Fisher, NC
February 3, 1865; (109) Near Fort Fisher, NC
February 6, 1865; (108) Near Fort Fisher, NC
February 7, 1865; (112) Near Fort Fisher, NC
February 16, 1865; (111) New York, NY

 

 

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