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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PECK, John James, soldier, born in Manlius, New York, 4 January, 1821 ; died in Syracuse, New York, 21 April, 1878. Ills father was one of the earliest settlers in Onondaga county. The son was graduated at the United States military academy in 1843, assigned to the 2d artillery, and was on garrison duty in New York harbor till he was ordered to Texas in 1845. During the Mexican war he was at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, took part in the assault on Federation Hill at Monterey, and afterward received two brevets for gallantry--that of captain for Contreras and Churubusco, and that of major for Molino del Key, where he had turned a captured gun on the enemy with great effect. "His name and services," said his division commander, Gen Worth, "will be found in the official account of every battle save one from the commencement of the war to the conquest of the basin of Mexico." He was given a sword on his return home in 1848, and after serving against the Navajo Indians in New Mexico, and on recruiting service, resigned his commission on 31 March, 1853. He was then connected with a projected railroad from New York to Syracuse by way of Newburg, and also organized in Syracuse the Burnet bank, of which he was cashier till the civil war. He was also president of the board of education in that city in 1859-'61, and was interested in politics, serving as a delegate at the Democratic national convention of 1856, and in that at Charleston in 1860, running for congress in 1856 and 1858, and once declining a foreign mission. He was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers on 9 August, 1861, and served first in the defences of Washington and then in the peninsular campaign. He rendered signal service at Yorktown; and at Williamsburg, where he arrived with re-enforcements at a critical point in the battle, his troops, by steadily withstanding repeated attacks from a superior force, did much to preserve the army from rout. At Fair Oaks a horse was shot under him, and he afterward covered the left flank of the army by holding White Oak swamp. He held an important place in the seven days' change of base, leading the rear-guard in the movement from Turkey creek to Harrison's landing. He was promoted major-general of volunteers, 4 July, 1862, and till September was in Yorktown, where he put the works in condition for defence. On 22 September, 1862, he was assigned to the command of all the National troops in Virginia south of James river, where he rendered important service by his brilliant defence of Suffolk against a superior force under Longstreet, whose position on Hill's point he stormed and captured on 4 May, 1863, thus virtually ending the siege. After all absence of several months, which was necessitated by injuries that he had received at Suffolk, he held command in North Carolina till April, 1864, and, after another leave of absence, oil the Canada frontier till the close of the war. He was mustered out of service, 24 August, 1865, and in 1866 organized at Syracuse the New York state life insurance company, of which he was president till his death.
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