Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McNEILL, William Gibbs, civil engineer, born in Wilmington, North Carolina, 3 October, 1800; died in Brooklyn, New York, 16 February, 1853. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1817, and entered the artillery branch of the service as 3d lieutenant, serving on topographical duty until January, 1823, when he was transferred to the corps of topographical engineers with the brevet rank of captain. Subsequently, while in this corps, his work included engagements on the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal in 1824-'6, on Kanawha, James, and Roanoke rivers in 1827, and as member of the board of engineers on the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in 1827-'30, and he became chief engineer in charge of the construction of the Baltimore and Susquehanna railroad in 1880-'6, meanwhile also holding engineering appointments to various other roads. He then was chief engineer in charge of the construction of railroads till 183'7, and during the latter year he also had charge of the examination of the coasts of North and South Carolina, but he resigned from the army in November, after attaining the rank of brevet major on the staff of the topographical engineers. He had achieved the reputation of being one of the foremost railroad engineers in the United States, and his services were sought for at unusual prices. At the time of the Dorr rebellion in 1842 he was commissioned major-general of Rhode Island militia, and commanded the state troops during that excitement. He was president of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal company in 1842-'3, and chief engineer of the dry dock at the United States navy-yard in Brooklyn in 1844-'5. Subsequently he held consulting appointments principally to various railroad and other public works in the United States and Cuba.
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