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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BIRGE, Henry Warner, soldier, born in Hartford, Connecticut, about 1830. When the civil war began he was a resident of Norwich, Connecticut, and an aide on the staff of Governor W. A. Buckingham. On the day of the president's first call for troops (15 April 1861) he began organizing the first regiments of Connecticut's quota. On 23 May he was appointed major of the 4th Connecticut volunteers, which was the first "three-years' regiment" of state troops mustered into the service of the United States. He served in Maryland and Virginia until November 1861, when he was appointed colonel of the 13th Connecticut infantry; joined General Butler's army in New Orleans in March. 1862, and was placed in command of the defenses of the city. In September he commanded his regiment in a movement in the La Fourche district, and in December when General Butler was succeeded by General Banks, he was assigned to a brigade, which he commanded through the first Red River campaign and the siege of Port Hudson (April to July 1863). Before the surrender of this stronghold General Birge volunteered to organize and lead a volunteer battalion to carry the confederate works by assault. Such was his reputation among the rank and file that his own regiment, the 13th Connecticut, volunteered almost in a body, and the full complement of 1,000 men was ready within two days. The assault was planned for the night of 10 July but the news of the fall of Vicksburg was received, and Port Hudson surrendered 8 July 1863. He was promoted Brigadier-General 9 September 1863. In 1864 he accompanied the second Red River expedition, and after the engagements at Sabine Cross-Roads, Pleasant Hill, and Cane river, returned to Alexandria and was sent to take command at Baton Rouge, La., which post was threatened by the confederates. In July 1864, he was ordered north with the 2d division of the 19th corps, joining General Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley in August and being present in all the battles of the ensuing campaign. In February and March 1865, he was in command of the defenses of Savannah, Georgia, where he remained until November when he resigned his commission. His services were recognized by the brevet of major general of volunteers, and by a vote of thanks from the legislature of his native state.
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