Robert Brown Potter

Potter was born in Schenectady, New York. His father was Alonzo Potter (18001865), American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Pennsylvania. Potter served as an attorney in New York City prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Civil War

At the start of the Civil War, Potter enlisted as a private in the New York militia, was promoted to lieutenant, and then commissioned as a major on October 14, 1861. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on November 1 of that year. He was wounded at the Battle of New Bern on March 14, 1862, while serving under Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. Potter commanded the 51st New York Volunteers in IX Corps at Second Bull Run. Promoted to the rank of colonel on September 10, he led the regiment at the Battle of Antietam. Potter was wounded at Antietam while participating in Burnside's attack on the Confederate right flank.

Potter was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on March 13, 1863. He led 2nd Division, IX Corps, in the Siege of Vicksburg. He next commanded IX Corps in the Knoxville Campaign. After serving on recruiting duty in New York state, he was assigned in 1864 command of the 2nd Division of IX Corps under Burnside. Potter led the division in the Overland Campaign and at the Siege of Petersburg. He was wounded in an assault on the Confederate works following the Battle of Fort Stedman, and he missed the closing campaigns of the war.

Upon his recovery he was given command of the Rhode Island and Connecticut district of the Department of the East.

Taken from Wikopedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Brown Potter, the son of an Episcopal bishop, was born in Schenectady, New York, July 16, 1829. He attended Union College (where his maternal grandfather was president) for a time but he did not graduate. After studying law he was admitted to the bar and practiced in New York City until the outbreak of the Civil War. He first enlisted as a private in the militia, was promoted to lieutenant, and on October 14, 1861, was commissioned major of the 51st New York a regiment whose service during the entire war would be in the IX Corps, as would Potter's. He was promoted lieutenant colonel in November; accompanied Ambrose E. Burnside's North Carolina expedition in January, 1862; was distinguished in the Roanoke Island assault; and was wounded at New Bern in March. After receiving a promotion to colonel on September 10, Potter fought at Cedar Mountain, in the campaign of Second Manassas, and in Maryland, where he was mainly responsible for getting troops over Burnside's bridge at Sharpsburg, after several previous attacks had bogged down. After the battle of Fredericksburg he accompanied Burnside to Cincinnati and was made a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from March 13, 1863. Shortly after he was given divisional command and participated in the siege of Vicksburg, the capture of Jackson two weeks later, and the Knoxville campaign in November. Potter's division was present with the rest of the IX Corps during U. S. Grant's Overland campaign against Richmond in 1864. They sustained more than twenty-four hundred casualties from the Wilderness to Petersburg. At the battle of The Crater, it was the 48th Pennsylvania of his division which drove the shaft and exploded the mine, and it was Potter, alone of Burnside's division commanders, who was present with his men during the subsequent abortive assault on the Confederate works. In the final assault which shattered Robert E. Lee's attenuated lines on the morning of April 2, 1865, Potter was severely wounded. He had been brevetted major general to rank from August 1, 1864, and on September 29, 1865, was given the full rank. Mustered out of service the following January, General Potter acted as receiver for the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad until 1869. He went abroad in 1869 and remained in England until 1873 when he returned to the United States. He resided at Newport, Rhode Island, until his death on February 19, 1887. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, New York City.

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

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