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Below is a family biography included in History of Lee County, Iowa published by Western Historical Company in 1879.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BELKNAP, WILLIAM W., GEN., is the son of Gen. William G. Belknap, of the United States Army, who distinguished himself in the war of 1812, in the Florida war, and at Resaca and Buena Vista in the war with Mexico, and died in the service in 1851, in Texas. He was born at Newburg, New York, in 1829, and, after attending the high school and academy there, and pursuing his studies in Florida, where his father was stationed, he entered Princeton College in 1846, and graduated in 1848. Alter studying law in Georgetown, D. C., and being admitted to the bar in Washington City, he went, in July, 1851, to Keokuk and commenced the practice of the law, shortly afterward forming a partnership with Hon. R. P. Lowe (who was soon after elected) District Judge, and later Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State), and brought his mother and two sisters there in 1852. He was a member of the Legislature from Lee County, in 1857, as a representative of the Democratic party; but, being a strong Douglas Democrat, and not uniting with the members of that party who favored what was known as the Lecompton Constitution of Kansas, which was an important and exciting question in the politics of the party, he joined the Republican party. He was appointed Major of the 15th Iowa Vols., by Gov. Kirkwood, in 1861, of which regiment Gen. Hugh T. Reid was Colonel, and participated in that capacity in the battle of Shiloh, where he was wounded and had his horse shot under him. He remained in the army until the close of the war, rising gradually through the grades of Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel; was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers, by President Lincoln, in 1864, on the recommendation of his Commanders, Gens. Blair and Sherman, and was brevetted Major General in 1865 for gallant and meritorious services during the war. Having, as Brigadier General of Volunteers commanded the 3d Brigade, 4th Division, 17th Army Corps (Blair’s) of the army of the Tennessee (McPherson’s); he was in numerous battles; among them, Shiloh, Corinth, the several battles near Atlanta, and the battle of Bentonville, N. C. He was engaged in the siege of Corinth, Vicksburg and of Atlanta, and commanded his Brigade (composed of the 11th, 13th, 15th and 16th Iowa Regiments), under Sherman in his march from Atlanta to the sea; thence to Goldsboro, Raleigh and Washington. He was repeatedly mentioned for coolness and courage, and in the battle of Atlanta, July 22, 1864, he took prisoner Col. Lampley, 45th Alabama, by pulling him over the works by his coat collar. At the close of the war, he was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue for the 1st District of Iowa. On the accession of Gen. Grant to the Presidency, he was offered the choice of either one of three important public positions in another State, and one at Washington, which he declined, and remained Collector of the 1st District (comprising the counties of Lee, Des Moines, Louisa, Washington, Jefferson, Van Buren, Henry, and Davis), until October, 1869, when he was appointed Secretary of War by President Grant, and his many friends point to the records of that office for the proof of his faithful labors for a term of over six years. Prior to this appointment, he was selected as the orator for the Army of the Tennessee at the re-union of all the Western armies, at Crosby’s Opera House, Chicago, December, 1868, and delivered the address at the great Reunion of Iowa soldiers, at Des Moines, in September, 1870. After his resignation of the office of Secretary of War, articles of impeachment were presented against him, and, after a protracted and thorough trial, he was acquitted by the Senate. Gen. Belknap married, in 1854, Miss LeRoy, of Keokuk, the sister of Mrs. Hugh T. Reid, and their son, Hugh Reid Belknap, is now a student at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. His present wife, whom he married in 1873, formerly Miss Tomlinson, of Harrodsburg, Ky., is the daughter of the late Dr. John Tomlinson, an able and famous physician of that locality. They have one child, a daughter, Alice Belknap. Since leaving the War Department Gen. Belknap has been engaged in legal practice; his residence is Keokuk, but his business before the Departments at Washington, a large part of which results from his employment as attorney: by several Railroad Corporations, requires him to be absent from home during a portion of each year.

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This family biography is one of 668 biographies included in The History of Lee County, Iowa published in 1879.  For the complete description, click here: Lee County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Lee County, Iowa family biographies: Lee County, Iowa Biographies

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