Newton Martin Curtis

Newton Martin Curtis was born on May 21, 1835, in De Peyster, New York, the son of a veteran of the War of 1812. As a young man he had a varied career as a teacher in Illinois, law student, postmaster of his native village, and manager of his father's farm. Upon the fall of Sumter, Curtis entered the army as captain of Company G of the 16th New York. While leading his unit at West Point on the Virginia Peninsula in May, 1862, he was "severely wounded." From that time until his participation in the two attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, Curtis' war service was confined mainly to departmental duty, enlivened principally by his engagement in the battle of Cold Harbor and the subsequent investment of Petersburg as a part of Benjamin F. Butler's Army of the James. When Butler was dispatched to reduce Fort Fisher, the last seacoast stronghold of the Confederacy, Curtis commanded a brigade in the division of Adelbert Ames, who later became Butler's son-in-law. The affair became a fiasco when Butler called off the attack at the very moment of victory. Subsequently, in January, 1865, a new expedition under Quincy A. Gill-more successfully stormed the fort and Curtis was later awarded the Congressional medal for being the first Federal soldier inside the works. For many months he had been colonel of the 142nd New York; he was now speedily made brigadier general and brevetted major general of volunteers for his fearless conduct on that occasion. Mustered out in 1866, he made his home in Ogdensburg, New York. Thereafter, for almost half a century, General Curtis was a distinguished representative of his state. He was successively a collector of customs, special agent for the Treasury Department, member of the New York State Assembly, and from 1891 to 1897 a representative in Congress; An avowed opponent of the death penalty for criminals, he wrote prolifically on the subject. He also made a contribution to Civil War history with his book, From Bull Run to Chancellorsville. He died in New York City, January 8, 1910, and was buried in Ogdensburg.

Medal of Honor Citation:

At the Second Battle of Fort Fisher: the first man to pass through the stockade, he personally led each assault on the traverses and was 4 times wounded.

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