Ransom H. Gillet. "Alexander Macomb." Section 35 in Democracy in the United States. What it has done, what it is doing, and what it will do. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1868. Page 65.

By Ransom H. Gillet, formerly member of Congress from St. Lawrence County, N.Y.; more recently Registrar and Solicitor for the United States Treasury Department, and Solicitor for the United States in the Court of Claims, Cousellor-at-Law, etc.


General Macomb was born in the garrison at Detroit, in 1782. He was the son of a fur-trader. He entered the army as a cornet of cavalry in 1799, and was retained at the partial disbandment in 1802. The corps to which he had belonged was formed into one of engineers, and he was sent to West Point, to improve in the military art. While there he acted as judge-advocat on the trial of the venerable Colonel Butler, for refusing to obey orders, and have his long white locks cut off. This arbitrary order could not have been carried into effect by Peter the Great of Russia. In 1805 Macomb was promoted to a captaincy in the Corps of Engineers, and commenced the discharge of his duties as such. At the commencement of the War of 1812, he had been promoted to be a lieutenant-colonel of engineers, but was soon transferred to the artillery. In 1814 he was commissioned a brigadier-general, and placed in command on the borders of Lake Champlain. On the 11th of September, 1814, he fought the battle of Plattsburg, against Sir George Provost and greatly superior numbers, and won a great triumph, the British retreating toward Canada. The battle was on the same day as Macdonough's victory over Commodore Downie and the British fleet. For his generalship on this occasion he was commissioned a major-general, receiving the thanks of Congress, and a gold medal voted him. On the reduction of the army he was retained as a colonel of engineers, and served in that capacity at the head of the engineer bureau. On the death of General Brown in 1828, he was appointed general-in-chief of the army, and served until his death in 1841. By his achievements General Macomb added to his own fame and to American character. His death was deeply deplored by the army and country.


Marshall Davies Lloyd