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Orlando Metcalfe Poe

Discussion in 'Other Notable Biographies' started by Joshism, May 28, 2017.

  1. Joshism

    Joshism First Sergeant

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    Orlando Meltcafle Poe was born in Navarre, Ohio in 1832. He attended West Point, graduating 6th in the Class of 1856. His assignment from then until the start of the American Civil War was as assistant topographical engineer on the survey of the Great Lakes, during which time he would have been working under Capt. George Gordon Meade.

    1st Lt Poe was assigned to help organize Ohio volunteers then placed on McClellan's staff. He served in that capacity during the Rich Mountain Campaign and in Washington, DC. In Sept 1861, he was promoted to Colonel of Volunteers and placed in command of the 2nd Michigan Infantry. He commanded that regiment through the Peninsular Campaign and Seven Days when it was part of Hiram Berry's Brigade in the III Corps. Poe seceded Berry as brigade commander prior to Second Manassas. Poe's brigade was on the right flank of Pope's army at the battle, but saw only limited action. It fought a few days later at the Battle of Chantilly. Poe's brigade was among the units guarding Washington during the Antietam Campaign and was present but not engaged during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

    Poe was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers effective 29 Nov 1862, but Congress rejected this appointment a few months later. Poe did finally receive promotion to Captain in the Regular Army and was transferred to the Western Theater where he became Chief Engineer of the XXIII Corps. In that capacity he played a key role in organizing the Union defenses for the Siege of Knoxville.

    In 1864, Poe became Sherman's Chief Engineer for the Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea, and Carolinas Campaign. In that capacity, he organized the Union's burning of Atlanta. He was brevetted Colonel after the capture of Savannah and Brigadier General at the end of the war. He also received promotion to Major.

    At the end of the war, Orlando Poe was assigned to the position of Engineer Secretary of the Lighthouse Board, serving nearly 5 years in that capacity. This was probably the busiest period in the history of the Lighthouse Board and Lighthouse Establishment as nearly every lighthouse, lightship, and many lesser aids to navigation from the Cheseapeake Bay to the Mexican border had been disabled or destroyed during the war. In 1870, Poe returned to the Great Lakes where he served 3 years as 11th Lighthouse District Engineer. He designed and/or built 8 lighthouses during this time, most notably the Spectacle Reef Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac. His successor was former Union general Godfrey Weitzel.

    Poe was engineering aide-de-camp to Sherman 1873-1883 while Sherman was commanding general of the US Army. Poe also returned to the Lighthouse Board as one of the non-secretary engineer positions 1874-1884. In 1883, Poe became Superintending Engineer of Improvement of Rivers and Harbors on Lakes Superior and Huron which included designing the St. Marys Falls Canal and new Soo Locks at Ste. Saint Marie. Orlando Poe died in 1895 from an infection due to an accident at the Soo Locks. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

    A biography of Poe, Orlando M. Poe: Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer by Paul Taylor, was finally published in 2009 by Kent State University Press.
     

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  3. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

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    Interesting he was with Meade as Meade had constructed several lighthouses.
     
    Joshism likes this.

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