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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Jesse Duncan Elliott

ELLIOTT, Jesse Duncan, naval officer, born in Maryland, 14 July 1782; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 18 December 1845. He was educated at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and studied law, but entered the navy as a midshipman in April 1804, and was promoted to a lieutenancy, 23 April 1810. In 1812 he was attached to Chauncey's command at Sackett's harbor, and in the war with Great Britain was sent by him to the upper lakes to purchase vessels and make other naval preparation. While on this service, on 8 October 1812, he captured two armed British brigs, the" Detroit "and" Caledonia:," anchored under the guns of Fort Erie. The "Caledonia," with a cargo valued at $200,000, was brought over safely to the American side with but slight loss of life, while the "Detroit " was afterward burned by her captors after the removal of most of her stores. For this exploit, the first naval success on the lakes, Elliott was voted a sword by congress, He next commanded the "Madison" with distinction in the capture of York, 19 April 1813, was promoted in July to the rank of master, and commanded the "Niagara" in the battle of Lake Erie, being also second in command of the fleet in that engagement.

Elliott's conduct in this action was eulogized in Perry's official report, and he received a gold medal from congress. A court martial, appointed at Elliott's request in consequence of insinuations to his disparagement, pronounced him "a brave and skilful officer." He succeeded Perry in command on Lake Erie in October 1813, and in 1815 commanded the" Ontario " sloop-of-war, in Decatur's squadron, employed against Algiers. He was promoted to captain in 1818, and till 1824 was engaged in selecting sites for dockyards, lighthouses, and fortifications on the coast of North Carolina. In 1829'33 he commanded the West India squadron and the Charleston navy yard. He then commanded for several years the "Constitution," of the Mediterranean squadron, but his conduct did not meet the approval of his superiors, and resulted in his trial by court martial in June 1840, and his suspension from duty for four years. In October 1843, the remaining period of his suspension was remitted by the president, and he was appointed to the command of the Philadelphia navy yard. He was a man of kind feelings, but a rigid disciplinarian. A biographical notice of him was published by "A Citizen of New York" (Philadelphia, 1835).

His son, Washington Lafayette Elliott, soldier, born in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 31 March 182i, accompanied his father in cruises in the West Indies in 1831'2, and on board the "Constitution" on a cruise in the Mediterranean. He studied at Dickinson College, and in 1841 entered the U. S. military academy. In May 1846, he was commissioned as 2d lieutenant of mounted rifles, he served with his regiment in Mexico till the surrender of Vera Cruz, was promoted 1st lieutenant on 20 July 1847, and after the war was stationed at Fort Laramie and in Texas and New Mexico, becoming a captain in July 1854. In September 1858, he distinguished himself in conflicts with the Navajoes in New Mexico. In the beginning of the civil war he took part in the actions at Springfield and Wilson's Creek, Missouri, was appointed colonel of the 2d Iowa cavalry in September 1861, and on 5 November 1861, was promoted major in the regular army. He afterward commanded a brigade of cavalry in the Army of the Tennessee, was engaged at the capture of Madrid, brevetted for gallantry at the capture of Island No. 10, and again for services at the siege of Corinth, and in a raid on the Mississippi and Ohio railroad in May 1862.

He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in June 1862, became chief of cavalry in the Army of Virginia in August 1862, and was wounded at the second battle of Bull Run. He commanded the Department of the Northwest in the beginning of 1863, was placed in command of a division in the Army of the Potomac in the summer of that year, then in the Army of the Cumberland, and was engaged in reinforcing General Burnside, and commanded in the action of Mossy Creek, Tenn. He was subsequently chief of cavalry in the Army of the Cumberland, and took part in the Atlanta campaign and in the pursuit of General Hood. In 1865 he commanded a division of the 4th corps, and was in the battles around Nashville. For services at Nashville he received the brevets of major general of volunteers and brigadier general in the regular army. He was also brevetted major general, U. S. army, for gallant and meritorious services during the war. He became lieutenant colonel in August 1866, colonel in April 1878, and on 20 March 1879, was retired at his own request.

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