Portrait of William B. Hazen

On the third day of the Battle of Chattanooga (November 23, 1863 – November 25, 1863), William B. Hazen’s men were among the Union forces that drove the Confederates off of Missionary Ridge. [Wikimedia Commons]

William Babcock Hazen - Facts

September 27, 1830 - January 16, 1887

Key facts about Major General William B. Hazen, a prominent Union officer who served in nearly all of the major campaigns in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • William Babcock Hazen

Birth Date:

  • September 27, 1830

Birth Location:

  • West Hartford, Vermont

Parents:

  • Stillman and Ferona (Fenno) Hazen

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1855)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USVA)
  • Brigadier General (USA)
  • Brevet Major General (USA)

Spouse:

  • Mildred McLean (1871)

Place of Death:

  • Washington, D.C.

Date of Death:

  • January 16, 1887

Place of Burial:

  • Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Arlington, Virginia

Significance:

  • William B. Hazen was the third son and the fifth of six children born to Stillman and Ferona (Fenno) Hazen.
  • In 1833, William B. Hazen’s parents moved their family to a homestead near Hiram, Ohio.
  • William B. Hazen attended a one-room school where William became a close friend of classmate and future United States President James A. Garfield.
  • In 1850, William B. Hazen enrolled in the first class of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, which later became Hiram College.
  • William B. Hazen attended the United States Military Academy from September 1, 1851, to July 1, 1855, placing twenty-eighth in his class of thirty-four cadets.
  • From 1855 to 1859, William B. Hazen served in the American West campaigning against American Indians.
  • On October 26, 1855, William B. Hazen received a full commission as a second lieutenant in the 8th U.S. Infantry.
  • On November 3, 1859, William B. Hazen was severely wounded by a bullet that passed through his hand and into his chest during an encounter with Comanche Indians along the Llano River. Hazen’s injuries were so severe that after being hospitalized at San Antonio, he was declared unfit for duty and placed on sick leave until 1861.
  • William B. Hazen was promoted to first lieutenant on April 1, 1861.
  • William B. Hazen was promoted to captain on May 14, 1861.
  • In 1861, William B. Hazen traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to recruit soldiers for the 41st Ohio Infantry Regiment. After the regiment was created, the soldiers elected Hazen as their commander and he was commissioned as a colonel in the volunteer army on October 29, 1861.
  • William B. Hazen was placed in command of the 19th Brigade of Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio in January 1862.
  • William B. Hazen’s brigade distinguished itself at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6 – 7, 1862).
  • William B. Hazen was stricken with malaria and forced to go on sick leave from May 25 to July 4, 1862.
  • William B. Hazen’s 2,300-man brigade helped halt General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Heartland Campaign at the Battle of Perryville (October 8, 1862).
  • William B. Hazen was placed in charge of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Left Wing of the newly-created Army of the Cumberland on October 24, 1862.
  • William B. Hazen’s brigade was instrumental in defeating Confederate General Bragg’s forces at the bloody Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862 – January 2, 1863).
  • William B. Hazen was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers, effective November 29, 1862.
  • William B. Hazen commanded his brigade during the Tullahoma Campaign (June 24–July 3, 1863).
  • On the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19 – 20, 1863) William B. Hazen’s brigade joined Major General George Thomas’ staunch defense of Snodgrass Hill, averting a total Union collapse.
  • William B. Hazen was brevetted to the rank of major in the regular army (effective September 20, 1863) “for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia.”
  • William B. Hazen played a major role in establishing the “Cracker Line,” breaking the Rebel siege of Chattanooga on October 27, 1863.
  • During the Battle of Chattanooga (November 23, 1863 – November 25, 1863), William B. Hazen’s Brigade was instrumental in the capture of Orchard Knob on the first day of fighting.
  • On the third day of the Battle of Chattanooga (November 23, 1863 – November 25, 1863), William B. Hazen’s men were among the Union forces that drove the Confederates off of Missionary Ridge.
  • William B. Hazen was brevetted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the regular army (effective November 24, 1863) “for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Chattanooga.”
  • During the Atlanta Campaign (May 7 – September 2, 1864), William B. Hazen was engaged in many conflicts, including the Battle of Resaca (May 15, 1864), the Battle of Adairsville (May 17, 1864), the Battle of Cassville (May 19, 1864), the Battle of Pickett’s Mills (May 27, 1864), and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (June 21‑23, 1864).
  • William B. Hazen and his men served with great distinction during the Battle of Pickett’s Mill when they were foolishly ordered to assault Major General Patrick Cleburne’s reinforced and heavily entrenched division without adequate support.
  • When asked after the Battle of Pickett’s Mill where his brigade was, William B. Hazen replied, “Brigade, Hell, I have none. But what is left of it is over there in the woods.”
  • On August 17, 1864, William B. Hazen was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee and placed in command of the 5th Division.
  • At the conclusion of the Atlanta Campaign, William B. Hazen was brevetted to colonel in the regular army, effective September 1, 1864.
  • William B. Hazen accompanied the Army of the Tennessee on Sherman’s March to the Sea (November 15, 1864–December 21, 1864).
  • Near the end of the Savannah Campaign, William B. Hazen was instrumental in the capture of Fort McAllister on December 13, 1864.
  • William B. Hazen was promoted to major general of volunteers, effective December 13, 1864.
  • William B. Hazen accompanied Major General William T. Sherman during the Carolinas Campaign from February through April 1865.
  • William B. Hazen was brevetted to major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
  • On January 15, 1866, William B. Hazen mustered out of the volunteer army, but remained in the regular army at the rank of colonel and was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry on July 28, 1866.
  • William B. Hazen was commander of the Southern Military District from 1868 to 1869.
  • On February 15,  1871, William B. Hazen married Mildred McLean, the daughter of prominent Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper owner Washington McLean, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their marriage produced a daughter who died in infancy and a son who died at the age of twenty-two in 1898.
  • In 1872, William B. Hazen exposed corrupt trading practices at Fort Sill that led to the impeachment and resignation of President Ulysses S. Grant’s Secretary of War, William Belknap.
  • In 1878, Colonel David S. Stanley accused William B. Hazen of perjury during the trial of Secretary of War William Belknap and of cowardice at the Battle of Shiloh. In 1879, Hazen was vindicated when a court ruled that Stanley was guilty of “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.”
  • In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes promoted William B. Hazen to the rank of brigadier general and appointed him as Chief of the Army Signal Corps.
  • Serving in that position, Hazen was responsible for the development of meteorological science in the Army Signal Corps.
  • In 1884, Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln had William B. Hazen court-martialed for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” On March 21, 1885, the court found Hazen guilty of the charges. Hazen was censured for his actions and reprimanded by President Chester A. Arthur, but ordered to resume the duties of his office.
  • On January 16, 1887, at the relatively young age of 56, William B. Hazen died at his home in Washington, D.C. from a diabetic coma brought on by the onset of a common cold contracted three days earlier.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title William Babcock Hazen - Facts
  • Coverage September 27, 1830 - January 16, 1887
  • Author
  • Keywords William Babcock Hazen
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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