William Kerley Strong


William Kerley Strong was born on April 30, 1805, in Duanesburg, New York. He became a prominent wool merchant in New York City, but, after amassing a fortune at a comparatively early age, retired to his estate at Geneva, New York. When the Civil War broke out he was traveling in Egypt, but at once set out for France where he was instrumental in purchasing arms for the Union cause. Prior to the war he had taken an active part in politics as a member of the Democratic party and his subsequent patriotic addresses on behalf of the government induced President Lincoln to commission him a brigadier general of volunteers on September 28, 1861. He first commanded Benton Barracks at St. Louis under John C. Fremont; then in March, 1862, he was put in charge of the District of Cairo, where he remained for several months until he seemingly was detailed for duty in New York. He was relieved of duty on December 15, 1862, and ordered to report to General Samuel R. Curtis at St. Louis for duty. The latter apparently assigned Strong to duty as president of a commission ordered to investigate the evacuation of New Madrid, Missouri, during December; the commission convened at St. Louis in February, 1863. On June 16, 1863, he was assigned to the command of the District of St. Louis by John M. Schofield, who was then in charge of the Department of the Missouri. On October 20, 1863, General Strong's resignation was accepted at his own request, whereupon he returned to New York City. In November of that year he was in communication with Secretary of War Stanton relative to the enlistment of colored troops in New York with appropriate credit to the state's draft quota. Shortly thereafter while driving in Central Park, he was thrown from his carriage and so severely injured that he was paralyzed for the remainder of his life. He died in New York City on March 16, 1867, and was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

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