Civil War Wiki

Andrew Talcott (April 20, 1797 – April 22, 1883) was an American civil engineer.

He was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut;[1] graduated second in class West Point, 1818; Engineers, garrisoned Fort Atkinson, explored passage to Fort Snelling, 1820;[2]

He started construction at Fort Adams, RI, 1824.[3]

In 1833 Talcott rediscovered the method to determine a place's latitude from the stars, originally invented by the Danish astronomer Peder Horrebow. The method was further developed by Talcott and came to be known as the Horrebow-Talcott Method.[4]

He was hired as superintending engineer for construction on Hampton Roads at Fort Calhoun and Fort Monroe (superior and friend to future general, R. E. Lee) and married Harriet Randolph Hackley at Norfolk, VA, 1832; surveyed Ohio-Michigan border, spring 1835 (with Lee);[5] Capt., resigned commission, 1836. In 1839 he was a civil engineer and surveyed Mississippi river delta together with a young A. B. Gray.[6]

Talcott was considered for post as Superintendent of the Coast Survey filled by Bache, 1843; supervised construction on Richmond and Danville Railroad, 1849, (later general manager); co-claimant in unsuccessful suit before Supreme Court, 1853 regarding FLA land deeded (father in law) R. S. Hackley by the Duke of Alagon, 1819; chief engineer and superintendent of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad; consultant at Coroner's jury for disaster at Desjardins Canal Bridge, Hamilton, Ontario, 1857.[7]

He was engaged as engineer late 1857 by A. Escandon (with English financing) connecting Veracruz with Mexico City by rail via Cordova and Orizaba (supervising W. W. Finney);[8][9]

Col. and State Engineer of Virginia (under Lee), charged with Richmond, James river coastal defense, 1861[10] (rearming star-shaped Fort Boykin, later crippled by ironclad corvette USS Galena's escort);[11] arrested in New York, March 1863, held at Fort Warren (as a Mexican citizen!);[12] returned to (French) reorganized Mexican project, 1862?5?,(under a new concession) till Juárez defeated Maximilian's conservative regime, 1867.

Talcott invested in development at (also with his son, Thomas Mann Randolph Talcott) in Bon Air, VA; died 22 April 1883, Richmond, VA.[13]

His brother was General George Talcott, Chief of the Ordnance Corps,[14] and his grand daughter Lucia Beverly Talcott (born 1865) married famous statistician and inventor Herman Hollerith in 1890.


  1. Wilson, James Grand and John Fiske, ed. (1889) "Andrew Talcott" Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography vol. vi, D. Appleton and Company, New York. p.24.
  2. Watkins, Albert (1919). "Three Military Heroes of Nebraska". Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days V.2 nr.4. Nebraska State Historical Society
  3. "The History of Fort Adams"
  4. Captain Albert E. Theberge, Albert. (2001) The Coast Survey 1807-1867 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Library. The so-called Horrebow-Talcott method fixed latitude "by observing differences of zenith distances of stars culminating within a short time of each other, and at nearly the same altitude, on opposite sides of the zenith."
  5. Price, Andrew "Robert E. Lee: The Engineer"
  6. Reconnaissance of the Passes of the Delta of the Mississippi, Louisiana U.S. Coast Survey map (1852)
  7. "The Desjardins Bridge Catastrophe". (1857) Scientific American. May 2. pp. 265-272
  8. García Dávila, Carlos. "The Mexican Railways" Escandon purchased the (4th) concession from Mosso brothers 1856, two routes were considered and Talcott was assigned the far more difficult southern passage probably due financial stakes held near Orizaba by the project's investors (the Northern passage was explored by Pascual Almazán); it was supposed to be the steepest railway undertaken up to that time, rising Template:Convert/ft/mi in a distance of 23 miles (37 km) and to span the river Metlac was an English made iron bridge 380 feet (120 m) high. ("A Great Railway Enterprise" (1866) Scientific American. July 7)
  9. Burgess, Jack. (1934) "Pony Express Was Idea of Virginian". Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 2
  10. Official correspondence. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (1880) p.781-783, p791, p851, p864
  11. Guttman, Jon. "Rebel's Stand at Drewry's Bluff". America's Civil War Magazine
  12. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (1899) p135
  13. Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Va.). Biography (p. 1, c. 3). Obituary. "Died at his residence, 519 East Leigh Street, on Sunday the 22d instant, Colonel Andrew Talcott, in the eighty - seventh year of his age. (He built the Richmond & Danville Railroad)". (p. 2, c. 4 ). Publication Tuesday, April 24, 1883.
  14. Stiles, Henry R (1904) The History of Ancient Wethersfield Connecticut, v 2. p 696

de:Andrew Talcott