Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PLEASONTON, Augustus James, soldier, born in Washington, D. C., 18 August, 1808. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1826, and then served on garrison duty at the Artillery School for practice in Fortress Monroe, and on topographical duty until 30 June, 1830, when he resigned from the army. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar, and he has since practised in Philadelphia. He has served in the Pennsylvania militia, holding the rank of brigade-major in 1833, and becoming colonel in 1835, and he was wounded during the conflict with armed rioters in Southwark, Pennsylvania, on 7 July, 1844. During the political disturbances in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1838--'9, he was assistant adjutant-general and paymaster-general of the state. On 16 May, 1861, he was appointed brigadier-general of Pennsylvania militia, and charged with the organization and subsequent command during the civil war of a home-guard of 10,000 men, including cavalry, artillery, and infantry, for the defence of Philadelphia. In 1839-'40 he was president of the Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mountjoy, and Lancaster railroad company. He has devoted his leisure to the cultivation of a farm near Philadelphia, where, as early as 1861, he began to experiment on the action of different colored rays upon vegetable and animal life. He claimed to have demonstrated that the blue rays of the sun were especially stimulating to vegetation. His experiments were subsequently applied to animals, and afterward to invalids, and wonderful cures were said to have been wrought. The public became interested in his experiments, and for a time a so-called "blue-glass craze" prevailed, culminating in 1877-'8. General Pleasonton published many papers in advocacy of his theories, and a book entitled "Influence of the Blue Ray of the Sunlight and of the Blue Color of the Sky in Developing Animal and Vegetable Life, in Arresting Disease " (Philadelphia, 1876). --His brother, Alfred, soldier, born in Washington, D. C., 7 June, 1824, was graduated at the United States military academy in 1844, served in the Mexican war, and was brevetted 1st lieutenant for "gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma." He subsequently was on frontier duty with his company, and was commissioned 1st lieutenant in 1849, and captain in 1855. He was acting assistant ad-general to General William S. Harney during the Sioux expedition, and his adjutant-general from 1856 till 1860 in the campaign against the Seminoles in Florida, and the operations in Kansas, Oregon, and Washington territory. He commanded his regiment in its march from Utah to Washington in the autumn of 1861, was commissioned major of the 2d cavalry in February, 1862, served through the Virginia peninsular campaign, became brigadier-general of volunteers in July of that year, and commanded the division of cavalry of the Army of the Potomac that followed Bee's invading army into Maryland. He was engaged at Boonesborough, South Mountain, Antietam, and the subsequent pursuit, engaged the enemy frequently at Fredericksburg, and stayed the further advance of the enemy at Chancellorsville. On 2 May, when Jackson's Confederate corps was coming down upon the right flank of Hooker's army, and had already routed Howard's corps, General Pleasonton, by his quick and skilful action, saved the army from a serious disaster. Ordering the 8th Pennsylvania cavalry to charge boldly into the woods in the face of the advancing host (see KEENAN, PETER), he delayed Jackson's progress a few minutes--just long enough to throw into position all the artillery that was within reach. He ordered the guns loaded with grape and canister, and depressed enough to make the shot strike the ground half way between their line and the edge of the woods. When the Confederate column emerged, it met such a storm of iron as no troops could pass through. About this time Jackson fell, and before any new manoeuvres could be undertaken darkness put an end to the day's work. He received the brevet of lieutenant-colonel for Antietam in 1862, was promoted major-general of volunteers in June, 1863, participated in the numerous actions that preceded the battle of Gettysburg, was commander-in-chief of cavalry in that action, and was brevetted colonel, 2 July, 1863. He was transferred to Missouri in 1864, drove the forces under General Sterling Price from the state, and in March, 1865, was brevetted brigadier-general in the United States army for gallant and meritorious conduct in that campaign, and major-general for services throughout the civil war. He resigned in 1868, was United States collector of revenue for several years, and subsequently president of the Terre Haute and Cincinnati railroad. In May, 1888, he was placed on the retired list, with the rank of colonel, United States A.
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