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Henry Larcom Abbot
File:Henry Larcom Abbot.jpg
Henry Larcom Abbot
Born August 13, 1831 [1]
Beverly, MA [1]
Died October 1, 1927
Cambridge, MA
Occupation Military engineer

Henry Larcom Abbot (1831–1927) was a military engineer and officer in the United States Army.


Early life[]

Henry Abbot attended West Point and graduated with a degree in military engineering in 1854. He then began his service in the U.S. army.

In 1855, Abbot was assigned to work with Lieutenant Robert Williamson's Pacific Railroad Survey in California and Oregon. To honor his work on this survey, the California Geological Survey named Mount Abbot in the Sierra Nevada after him in 1873.[1]

While serving in the Army, Lieutenant Abbot and Captain Andrew Humphreys conducted several scientific studies of the Mississippi River. They most notably studied the Mississippi river's flow starting at the Ohio River and going southward down to its base level at the Gulf of Mexico. They attempted to use several European formulas for stream discharge they had learned at West Point, but came to discover that they were all flawed. They then developed their own formula which ultimately also proved to be faulty, most notably they forgot to account for the roughness of slopes in river canals. Although the formula was not without flaw it influenced the evolution of hydrology and was instrumental in the establishing of an United States Army Engineer School at Fort Totten, New York City.

Civil War and Later Life[]

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lt. Abbot was assigned to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell's forces and was wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run. He later became a Topographical Engineer in the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsula Campaign. During this campaign he was brevetted major for his service at the siege of Yorktown. During the later part of 1862 he served on the staff of John G. Barnard and briefly as a Topographical Engineer in the Department of the Gulf. On January 19, 1863 he was appointed colonel of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment but was soon after transferred to the Washington Defenses where he commanded a brigade.

In May 1864 he was transferred to command the Artillery during the siege of Petersburg. On August 1, 1864 Abbot was brevetted to brigadier general of volunteers. In December 1864 he was placed in command of all siege artillery in the Army of the Potomac and Army of the James that were besieging Petersburg. In January 1865 General Alfred H. Terry requested General Abbot accompany his expeditionary force to Fort Fisher. Abbot commanded a provisional brigade of siege artillery during the successful Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

Abbot received a brevet to brigadier general in the Regular Army and was mustered out of the volunteer service in September 1865. He continued to serve in the U.S. Army Engineers and retired as a Colonel in 1895.

After his retirement from the army he continued to work as a civil engineer and was employed as a consultant for the locks on the Panama Canal.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Farquhar, Francis P. (1926). Place Names of the High Sierra. San Francisco: Sierra Club. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 

External links[]

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