William Worth Belknap

William Worth Belknap was born in Newburgh, New York, on September 22, 1829. He attended Princeton College, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1851, and commenced practice in Keokuk, Iowa. A member of the Iowa legislature in 1857-58, he was commissioned major of the 15th Iowa in December 1861. Belknap rendered gallant service with the western armies on every field from Shiloh to Bentonville. Meantime he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August, 1862, to colonel in June, 1863, and to brigadier general of volunteers on July 30, 1864—upon the recommendation of W. T. Sherman —and was brevetted major general on March 13, 1865. He was repeatedly commended for bravery and personal disregard of danger, and commanded the 4th Division of the XVII Corps in the Atlanta campaign, the "March to the Sea," and the Carolina campaign. Returning to civilian life, Belknap received the appointment of collector of internal revenue in Iowa. In 1869 he became President U. S. Grant's Secretary of War. In this capacity he became mired in the corruption which characterized the postwar period. On March 2, 1876, the "unquestioned evidence of the malfeasance in office by General William W. Belknap" was reported to the House of Representatives, and Belknap was impeached by unanimous vote. The specific charge was that the post trader at Fort Sill had paid Belknap some $24,000 over a period of years for immunity from removal. In the subsequent trial before the Senate thirty-five Senators voted guilty and twenty-five not guilty, short of the two-thirds necessary for conviction. However, all but three of the Senators voting not guilty stated they did so because they felt that Belknap's resignation, which Grant had accepted prior to the trial, removed him from the Senate's jurisdiction. Thereafter, General Belknap lived in Philadelphia and Washington, D. C, practicing law in the latter city. He died on October 13, 1890, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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