Alexander M. Piper was born on May 11, 1828 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; the son of Alexander M. Piper and Ann Espy Elder. He attended the Pennsylvania Military Institute in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - which existed from 1845-1847 and turned out 102 graduates one of which was Alexander Piper. He also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point from July 1, 1847 to July 1, 1851. He graduated 5th in his class at West Point (5th out of 42) in 1851.
Colonel Alexander Piper
10th New York State Volunteers - Heavy Artillery - Civil War 1862 to 1865
Painted by Théodore Gégoux (1850-1931). Completed at Watertown , New York
Measuring 20 inches by 16 inches, dated 1897, signed T. Gegoux.
Photo Courtesy of Jefferson County Historical Society © - All rights reserved.
"Remember me most kindly to any of the Tenth you may meet with assurances they hold a warm place in my rememberance and regard, and hope to see them some day when I can say to them more than I can express to you now."
Col. Alexander Piper - In the spring of 1885 at his Headquarters in San Francisco.
From the reminiscences of Col. W. B. Camp - as published in the History of the 10th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery (E.P. Webb - 1887), and reprinted in the Genealogical Journal of Jefferson County, New York (1993 - 1994) - Copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Alexander Piper mustered into the US Army on July 1, 1851 as a 2nd Lt in 3rd US Artillery. Records indicate that he was an officer of the Artillery branch and was assigned to Artillery Regiments throughout his long career. From the spring of 1852 until the Autumn of 1860, Col. Piper served as a Lieutenant on the West Coast. One memorable event was recorded by Phil Sherian in his memoirs -
"When the Indians attacked the people at the Cascades on the 26th, word was sent to Colonel Wright, who had already got out from the Dalles a few miles on his expedition to the Spokane country. He immediately turned his column back, and soon after I had landed and communicated with the beleaguered block-house the advance of his command arrived under Lieutenant-Colonel Edward J. Steptoe. I reported to Steptoe, and related what had occurred during the past thirty-six hours, gave him a description of the festivities that were going on at the lower Cascades, and also communicated the intelligence that the Yakimas had been joined by the Cascade Indians when the place was first attacked. I also told him it was my belief
that when he pushed down the main shore the latter tribe without doubt would cross over to the island we had just left, while the former would take to the mountains. Steptoe coincided with me in this opinion, and informing me that Lieutenant Alexander Piper would join my detachment with a mountain' howitzer, directed me to convey the command to the island and gobble up all who came over to it.
Lieutenant Piper and I landed on the island with the first boatload, and after disembarking the howitzer we fired two or three shots to let the Indians know we had artillery with us, then advanced down the island with the whole of my command, which had arrived in the mean time; all of the men were deployed as skirmishers except a small
detachment to operate the howitzer. Near the lower end of the island we met, as I had anticipated, the entire body of Cascade Indianmen, women, and children -- whose homes were in the vicinity of the Cascades. They were very much frightened and demoralized at the turn events had taken, for the Yakimas at the approach of Steptoe had abandoned them, as predicted, and fled to the mountians. The chief and head men said they had had nothing to do with the capture of the Cascades, with the murder of men at the upper landing, nor with the massacre of men, women, and children near the block-house, and put all the blame on the Yakimas and their allies. I did not believe this, however, and to test the truth of their statement formed them all in line with their muskets in hand. Going up to the first man on the right I accused him of having engaged in the massacre, but was met by a vigorous denial. Putting my forefinger into the muzzle of his gun, I found unmistakable signs of its having been recently discharged. My finger was black with the stains of burnt powder, and holding it up to the Indian, he had nothing more to say in the face of such positive evidence of his guilt. A further examination proved that all the guns were in the same condition. Their arms were at once taken possession of, and leaving a small, force to look after the women and children and the very old men, so that there could be no possibility of escape, I arrested thirteen of the principal miscreants, crossed the river to the lower landing, and placed them in charge of a strong guard." - Personal Memiors by P. H. Sherian - Nonguitt, Mass., August 2, 1888
During the War of the Rebellion Lieutenant Piper, of the Third Artillery, served as adjutant-general to W.T. Sherman at the first battle of Bull Run. At Bull Run, Lt. Piper won specific praise for his daring during a reconnaisance mission. He was promoted to Capt while in the 3rd US Artillery. He served on the staffs of Daniel Tyler & William T. Sherman. He was the Chief of Artillery for John Pope in July 1862 and he was promoted to brevet Major US Army for gallantry in Northern Virginia on August 30, 1862. He was mustered as Colonel of the 10th NYHA on January 1, 1863. He was promoted to the rank of brevet Lt Colonel US Army for bravery during siege of Petersburg on June 15, 1864. He mustered out with his regiment in July 1865. - [Source: Morrisville College Library]
Col. Piper commanded the 10th NYHA, the " Jefferson County Regiment" from the time it was organized in December of 1862 until the regiment was mustered out of service in July 1865. Despite it's name the 10th fought as an infantry unit and took part in the battles of Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and the Seige of Richmond. During it's service the 10th lost a total of 267 men, 47 as a result of battle and 220 as result of disease. - [Source: Jefferson County Historical Society, 1988]
The 10th NY Heavy Artillery took part in the following engagements:
Cold Harbor, Va. June 5-12, 1864
Before Petersburg and Richmond, Va. June 15 -Aug. 13, 1864
Assault of Petersburg, Va. June 15-19, 1864
Cedar Creek, Va. Oct. 19, 1864
Before Petersburg and Richmond, Va. Dec. 1864- April 2, 1865
Fall of Petersburg and Richmond, Va. April 2, 1865
Cpt. Piper renewed his oath of commission on August 5, 1865 at West Point.
[Source: pp. 344-345, Phisterer, 1890]
Service Record from Biographical Register of the Officers and Gradutes of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, 1802 - 1890
# 1498..... (Born Pa.) ..... ALEXANDER PIPER ........ (Applied from Pa.) ..... graduated 5th
Military History - Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1847, to July 1, 1851, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to Bevet 2nd LT., 3rd Artillery, on July 1, 1851. Served: in garrison at Ft. Independence, Mass., 1851-52 - promoted to 2nd LT., 3rd Artillery, on Dec. 12, 1851; - Ft. Adams, R. I., 1852-53 and Ft. Snelling, Min., 1853; at the Military Academy as Asst. Professor of Geography, History, and Ethics, Aug. 29, 1853, to Apr. 14, 1854; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1854; on frontier duty at Ft. Yuma, Cal., 1854-55, - Ft. Vancouver, Wash., 1855, Ft. Dalles, Or., 1855, was promoted to 1st LT., 3D Artillery, Jan. 31, 1855.
Served during the Indian Hostillities in Wash. Terr. form 1855 to 1856, being engaged in a skirmish athe the cascades, Wash. on Mar. 28, 1856; Ft. Walla-Walla, Wash., 1856-1857; Ft. Umpqua, Or., 1857-59, 1859-60; and on Expeditiou to Upper Klamath Lake, Or., 1860.
Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-66: He was offered the rank of Captain in 18th Infantry on May 14, 1861 by he declined, accepted instead the rate of Captain in the 3D Artillery on May 14, 1861. He served in Defense of Washington, D. C., June-July, 1861; in the Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, as Acting Asst. Adjutant-General of Sherman's Brigade, being engaged in the Action of Blackburns Ford, July 18, 1861, and the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., July to Sep., 1861; at the Military Academy as Principal Asst. Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology, Sep. 11, 1861, to June 16, 1862; as Chief of Artillery of the Army commanded by Major-General Pope, in the Northern Virginia Campaign, July 21 to Sep. 3, 1862; he was promoted to Bervet Major, Aug. 30, 1862, for gallant and meritorious services during the campagian of Northern Virginia.
He served as Asst. Inspector of Artillery at Washington, D. C., Sep., 1862, to Jan., 1863; then he was promoted to Colonel of 10th New York Artillery Volunteers on Jan. 7, 1863. He served in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., Jan, 1863, to May, 1864; in the Richmond Campaign, June to Dec., 1864, being engaged in the Assault on Petersburg, June 16, 1864, - Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, June to Dec. 1864 during which time he was promoted to Bervet LT.-CoL. on June 15, 1864, for gallant and meritorious services at the seige of Petersburg, VA, while being Chief of Artillery of 18th Army Corps, July 93 to Nov. 10, 1864; he also served as Chief of Artillery of Middle Military Division, Dec., 1864, to July, 1865. Mustered out of volunteer service, July 6, 1865.
He served: as Principal Assistant Instructor of Artillery Tactics at the Military Academy, July 24, 1865, to Aug. 28, 1872; on leave of absence in Europe, Aug. 26, 1872, to Nov. 30, 1873; he was proted to Major, 4th Artillery, Dec. 20, 1875 while in command of company at Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., to June 24, 1876; on leave of absence, June to Sep., 1876; at the Military Academy, as Principal Instructor of Artillery Tactics, Sep. 5, 1876, to Aug. 28, 1881; on leave of absence to Feb. 27, 1882; he was in command of Ft. Trumbull, Ct., to Nov. 29, 1882, when he was promoted to LT. Colonel, 1st Artillery on Nov. 8, 1882. He was transfered to 3rd Artillery on Nov. 10, 1882 and was placed in command of the regiment and St. Francis Barracks, Fla., Dec. 25,1882, to Jan. 10, 1884. He was transfered to 1st Artillery on Jan 25, 1884 for duty at Presidio of San Francisco, Cal., Apr. 8, 1884, to Mar. 22, 1885; and in command of regiment and Presidio of San Francisco, Cal. to Aug. 24, 1887, where he was promoted to Colonel, 5th Artillery on Aug. 10, 1887. He then commanded Ft. Hamilton, N. Y., Oct. 25, 1887, to his retirement in 1891.
According to records at WorldConnect, Alexander Piper was one of 11 children born to Alexander M. Piper (1786 - 1869) and Ann Epsy Elder (1794 -1886) of Bedford Co, PA. Alexander Piper was married to Adelaide Cozzens in about 1870. It is not known whether they had any children. Alexander Ross Piper, born March 1, 1865 in Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, N. Y. was a nephew. Alexander Ross Piper was also a West Point Academy class of 1889 graduate.
Col. Piper served a total of 40 years as a commissioned officer in the Regular Army being retired on July 1, 1891. During his career he served with distinction as an artillery instructor at West Point and did tours of duty at Fort Hamilton, New York, St. Augustine, Florida, and the Presidio in San Francisco, where he was the Commanding Officer on several ocassions.
According to the New York Times, Col. Piper was killed in the Park Avenue Hotel fire in New York City on February 22nd, 1902 at the age of 72, and was buried at West Point.
"A fire occurred in the armoury of the 71st Regiment at New York, and spread to the Park Avenue Hotel. Seventeen people were killed and 50 others were injured. Great damage was done. - New York Times, February 23th, 1902."
Although Mrs. Piper was also present in the hotel at time of the fire, she survived unharmed and as of this writing, what ever became of her is unknown. The War Department received a telegram from Cpt. A. R. Piper at the time of the colonel's death.
Information also provided by - Sue Greenhagen, Morrisville, New York and confirmed by the National Archives records.
The Grand Army of the Rebublic - Piper Post # 273 in Henderson, New York, which was active from - July 29, 1882 to 1920, was named after Colonel Alexander Piper, 10th NY Heavy Artillery. - [Source: Morrisville College Library]