Engineering class were deemed by Professor D. H. Mahan
as equal to any executed at the celebrated German school at Metz
, and they were kept at West Point
He was appointed brevet second lieutenant First United States Artillery July 1, 1833, and served in the war with the Creek
Nation of Indians until March 6, 1834, when he was promoted second lieutenant First Artillery, and March 18, 1834, assigned to duty as Assistant Professor
of Engineering at West Point
, serving as such until his resignation, August 31, 1835, at the request of his father, and against his own inclinations, which were predominantly for a military life.
His resignation was much to the regret of General Winfield Scott
, who wrote to his father that he was the most promising young officer in the army.
He served as assistant engineer in the construction of the James River
and Kanawha canal, 1835-1837, and latterly in some railroad surveys in the mountains of Virginia
In 1835 he joined a relative in large operations in tobacco at Cloverport, Kentucky
, meeting with much success financially.
He originated the Scrap hogshead, in which a large business has since been done.
He visited Europe
in 1848, and met in London Miss Eliza L. Knight
, who became his wife in 1849.
He engaged in farming at his seat, ‘Woodville
,’ Goochland county, Virginia
, from 1845 to 1861, never relinquishing, however, his operations in tobacco at Frederick's Hall and Petersburg
He was also interested in other mercantile ventures.
He, like many other Virginians
, was not an original Secessionist, and hoped that the impending strife might be averted.
The call, however, of President Lincoln
for troops from Virginia
in 1861 instantaneously decided him, and he tendered his services to the Confederacy
A command was offered him, which, from his long abandonment of military life, he felt a hesitancy in accepting.
At the request of General Lee
he was assigned to the Engineer corps as captain.
He it was, it is said, who placed General Jackson
in the position, the stern holding of which gained for him the famed soubriquet of ‘Stonewall
He planned the fortifications of Centreville
and other points, and made, it is said, the most correct map of the battlefield of Manassas
Accompanying General Beauregard
to the West
, he planned the fortification of Island No.10
, Fort Hilton, and Vicksburg
He also accompanied a reconnoitering expedition into Kentucky
, sent out by General Bragg
When General Beauregard
was ordered to Charleston
, by his request, General Harris
accompanied him as engineer, and constructed the defences there with such