Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CUMMING, William, soldier, born in Georgia about 1790; died in Augusta, Georgia, in February 1868. He studied at the Litchfield, Conn.. law-school, but inherited a fortune and never practiced. He was appointed major in the 8th infantry on 25 March 1818, and was wounded in the battle of Chrysler's Field, 11 November He was made adjutant general, with the rank of colonel, on 16 February 1814, being severely wounded at Lundy's Lane on 25 July and resigning 31 March 1815. He declined the appointment of quartermaster-general, with the rank of brigadier-general, in April 1818, and also that of major general, tendered him by President Polk on 3 March 1847. Colonel Cumming was a leader of the Union party in the nullification struggle, and his quarrel with George McDuffie, of South Carolina, on this issue was notorious. The two men, attended by a long train of friends in their own equipages, rushed from one point to another in the attempt to find a place of meeting, and loudly accused each other of betraying their intentions to the officers of the law. They were widely caricatured, and their actions were watched with interest all over the country. They finally succeeded in meeting twice, and exchanged three shots, by one of which McDuffie was wounded in the hip and lamed for life.
His brother, Alfred Cumming, governor of Utah, born about 1802 ; died in Augusta, Georgia, 9 October 1873, was a soldier during the Mexican war. He had been superintendent of Indian affairs on the upper Missouri, and in 1857 President Buchanan appointed him governor of Utah territory, and sent him there with a force of 2,500 men to protect him in the discharge of his functions, which constituted the famous "Utah Expedition" of that year. On 27 November the governor issued a proclamation declaring the territory to be in a state of rebellion, and this document was sent to Salt Lake City by a Mormon prisoner, accompanied by a letter to Brigham Young, evincing a willingness to temporize. The expedition went into winter quarters at Camp Scott, on Black's Fork, and in March 1858, Colonel Thomas L. Kane arrived in the camp, having been sent by the president as special envoy to Brigham Young. The relations between Governor Cumming and General Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the expedition, had become somewhat strained, and, soon after Colonel Kane's arrival, that gentleman, taking offence at a fancied slight, wrote a challenge to General Johnston with Governor Cumming's consent. During the spring difficulties constantly arose, through a misunderstanding on Cumming's part, as to the power he possessed over the troops. On 8 March Judge Cradlebaugh made requisition for soldiers to protect his court, sitting at Provo, during the trial of the Mormons indicted for complicity in the Mountain Meadows massacre, and they were furnished by General Johnston, whereupon Governor Cumming protested against their use, and on 27 March issued a proclamation denouncing the general's action. The secretary of war afterward forbade General Johnston to use troops for such purposes. After the proclamation of pardon to the Mormons, in accordance with the temporizing policy adopted by Buehanan's administration, Governor Cumming objected to the farther advance of the army, but, notwithstanding his protest, it was marched into Salt Lake City, and did much to preserve order. Governor Cumming held his office till 1861, when Stephen S. Harding succeeded him.
--Alfred's nephew, Alfred, born in Augusta, Georgia, 30 January 1829, was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1849. He was aide to General Twiggs at New Orleans in 1851-'3, was made first lieutenant on 3 March 1855, and captain in the 10th infantry, 20 July 1856. He was on the Utah expedition of 1859-'60, and on 19 January 1861, resigned, and was soon commissioned lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. He rose to the rank of brigadier-general, and served until disabled by wounds received at the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, 31 August 1864. After the war he became a planter near Rome, Georgia
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