Alexander Stewart Webb
Medal of Honor Citation:
Rank and organization:
Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers.
Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., 3 July 1863.
Entered service at: New York, N.Y.
Born: 15 February 1835, New York, N.Y.
Date of issue: 28 September 1891.
Citation: Distinguished personal gallantry in leading his men forward at a critical period in the contest.”
Alexander Stewart Webb, son of the well-known newspaper proprietor and diplomat James Watson Webb, was born on February 15, 1835, in New York City. He attended private schools until he received an appointment to West Point in 1851. He was commissioned in the artillery upon his graduation in 1855, fought against the Florida Seminoles in 1856, and the next year returned to the Military Academy as an instructor in mathematics. At the beginning of the Civil War, he took part in the defense of Fort Pickens, was present at First Manassas, was assistant to General W. F. Barry, Chief of Artillery of the Army of the Potomac from July, 1861, to April, 1862, and during the Peninsular campaign was Barry's acting inspector general. During Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland, Webb acted as chief of staff for Porter's V Corps; after this campaign he was assigned to the camp of instruction in Washington as inspector of artillery. In January, 1863, he became assistant inspector general of the V Corps and, a few days prior to Gettysburg, took command of the 2nd Brigade of John Gibbon's division of Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps; on the same day (June 23, 1863) he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. On the third day of this battle, Webb's four Pennsylvania regiments were posted in the immediate vicinity of "the little clump of trees" which was the focal point of George Pickett's charge; the command lost 451 men killed and wounded in the encounter, Webb was among the wounded and was later awarded the Congressional medal for his conduct. During the subsequent campaign on the Rappahannock he was in charge of Gibbon's division in the absence of both Gibbon and Hancock, but in the spring of 1864 reverted to command of his old brigade. He was gravely wounded at Spotsylvania and did not return to duty until January, 1865, when he became chief of staff to General George G. Meade, a position he held until the end of the war. Webb received the brevet of major general in both the regular and volunteer services. In 1866 he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 44th Infantry. He again taught at the Military Academy, and in 1870 was honorably discharged from the army at his own request, presumably so that he could accept the presidency of the College of the City of New York. He remained as president for thirty-three years. General Webb died at his home in Riverdale, New York, on February 12, 1911, and was buried at West Point.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.