Herman Haupt

Herman Haupt was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 26, 1817. A child prodigy and mechanical genius, he was graduated from West Point at the age of eighteen, became principal assistant engineer of the state of Pennsylvania at the age of nineteen, and published authoritative treatises on bridge construction while in his twenties. Haupt resigned from the Military Academy three months after graduation to enter the field of railroad engineering. In the next quarter-century he laid out, located, or constructed a half dozen of the more important railroad segments of New York, New England, and Pennsylvania, including a good part of the Juniata division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Allegheny and Hoosac tunnels. In the second year of the Civil War Haupt was summoned to Washington as chief of construction and transportation on the U. S. Military Railroads (lines taken over by the government in the various war theaters) with rank of colonel and additional aide-decamp from April 27, 1862. For a year and a half his engineering skill revived and maintained order in a vacuum which had reduced the operation of the Virginia roads to chaos. The complexity of this work was underscored in a telegram sent to Haupt by P. H. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War and an ex-railroad executive: "Be as patient as possible with the generals; some of them will trouble you more than they do the enemy." On September 5, 1862, Haupt was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and for the next twelve months was addressed as a general officer and so signed himself in official dispatches. But, he did not accept this commission, which he did not want, preferring to serve without rank or pay, in order to devote time to his personal affairs, much involved by his advance of funds for the completion of a Massachusetts railroad. On September 14, 1863, he vacated the appointment by declining it and returning to private life. Haupt's postbellum career was also distinguished: besides publishing an impressive array of technical publications, he was chief engineer and general manager of many railroads, including the Northern Pacific, and was a pioneer in oil pipeline development and the use of compressed air for motors and mine machinery. General Haupt died of a heart attack on a train in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 14, 1905, and was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.