Randolph Barnes Marcy


Randolph Barnes Marcy was born on April 9, 1812, at Greenwich, Massachusetts, a village in northeastern Hampshire County which was abandoned and then inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir in 1938. He was graduated from the Military Academy in the class of 1832, ranking twenty-ninth among forty-five students. During the next fourteen years he served almost entirely on the frontier in Michigan and Wisconsin. With promotion to captain of infantry in 1846, Marcy was engaged in the Mexican War battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, but was then detached on recruiting duty and received no brevet promotions at the close of the war. Thereafter, until 1859, he was on duty at various points in the Southwest, escorting emigrants, locating military posts, exploring the wilderness, and accompanying Albert Sidney Johnston on the expedition against the Mormons in Utah. After a few months as acting inspector general of the Department of Utah, he was ordered East to prepare from his voluminous notes a guidebook on western travel—this was published by the War Department in 1859 under the title, The Prairie Traveler.) Meanwhile he accepted a staff appointment as paymaster with the rank of major and served in the Pacific Northwest until May, 1861. At this juncture Marcy became chief of staff to General George B. McClellan, whose father-in-law he had become the previous year. On August 9, 1861, Marcy was appointed to be one of the four inspectors general of the Regular Army, with staff rank of colonel authorized by the acts of July 29 and August 3, 1861, although his duties were entirely with McClellan until the latter's relief from command of the Army of the Potomac after the battle of Sharpsburg. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on September 28, 1861, but this appointment expired by operation of law on March 4, 1863, the Senate having failed to confirm him in the grade. From July, 1863, until the end of the Civil War he performed inspection duties in a number of military departments and at army headquarters in Washington. On December 12, 1878, General Marcy was promoted to inspector general of the U. S. Army with the staff rank of brigadier general—at long last accorded the stature to which his duties and responsibilities had entitled him since 1861. He was retired at his own request in 1881. Surviving his son-in-law McClellan by two years, General Marcy died at West Orange, New Jersey, on November 2, 1887, and was buried in Riverview Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey.

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