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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RILEY, Bennett, soldier, born in Alexandria, Virginia, 27 November, 1787" died in Buffalo, New York, 9 June, 1853. He entered the army from civil life at an early period, being appointed from Maryland an ensign of rifles, 19 January, 1813, and continued in the service until he died. He became lieutenant on 12 March, served in the war of 1812, and was promoted captain, 6 August, 1818, major, 26 September, 1837, and lieutenant-colonel, 1 December, 1839. He served with gallantry in 1823 in an action with the Ariekaree Indians, and for his services at Chakotta, Florida, 2 June, 1840, he was brevetted colonel. In the Mexican war of 1846-'7 he was given important commands. He led the 2d infantry under Scott, and the 2d brigade of Twiggs's division in the valley of Mexico. He received the brevet of brigadier-general, 18 April, 1847, for gallantry at Cerro Gordo, and that of major-general, 20 August, 1847, for Contreras. After one of his successful engagements with the enemy General Winfield Scott assured him that his bravery had secured a victory for the American army. At the conclusion of the war General Riley was placed in command of the Pacific department, with headquarters at Monterey. He was appointed military governor of California, and served as the first chief magistrate of the territory and until the admission of the state into the Union. He became colonel of the 1st infantry on 31 January, 1850.
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