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Merritt, Wesley

MERRITT, WESLEY (1836- ), American soldier, was born in New York City on the 16th of June 1836. He graduated at West Point in 1860, and was assigned to the cavalry service. He served in Utah (1861) and in the defences of Washington (1861-62); learnt the field duties of his arm as aide (1862) to General Philip St George Cooke, who then commanded the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac; became brigadier-general, United States Volunteers, in June 1863; and in September 1863 was placed in command of a brigade of regular cavalry in the Army of the Potomac. He won great distinction in the Virginian campaigns of 1864-65 and in Sheridan's Valley campaign, being brevetted major-general of volunteers for his conduct at Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and brigadier-general of the regular army for his services at Five Forks. In the final campaign about Richmond he did such good service in command of a cavalry division that he was brevetted majorgeneral in the regular army and was promoted major-general of volunteers. With two other Federal commissioners he arranged with the Confederate commanders for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was mustered out of the Volunteer Service in February 1866, and in July became lieutenant-colonel of the 9th cavalry in the regular army, being promoted gradually to major-general (1895). He served in the Big Horn and Yellowstone Indian campaigns (1876) and in the expedition to relieve the command of Major Thornburgh, who was killed in 1879 by the Utes; was superintendent at West Point (1882-87); and commanded the military department of Missouri in 1887-95, and that of the Atlantic in 1897-98. He was assigned in May 1898 to the command of the United States forces that were sent to the Philippines, after Admiral Dewey's victory; stormed Manila on the 13th of August; and was military governor of the islands until the 30th of August, when he left Manila for Paris to join the peace commission. From 1899 until his retirement from active service in June 1900 he commanded the Department of the East.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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