William Cogswell

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For the portrait artist, see William F. Cogswell. For the physician, see William Henry Cogswell.
William Cogswell
William Cogswell2.jpg
William Cogswell while a U.S. Representative.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1893
Preceded by Eben F. Stone
Succeeded by William Everett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1893 – May 22, 1895
Preceded by Henry Cabot Lodge
Succeeded by William Henry Moody
Member of the
Massachusetts State Senate
In office
Member of the
Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
Member of the
Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
19th Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Samuel Calley
Succeeded by Henry Laurens Williams
16th Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts
In office
September 26, 1867[1] – 1869
Preceded by David Roberts
Succeeded by Nathanial Brown
Personal details
Born August 23, 1838
Bradford, Massachusetts
Died May 22, 1895(1895-05-22) (aged 56)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) m. June 20, 1865, Emma Thorndike Proctor, d. April 1, 1877; m. December 12, 1881, Eva M. Davis
Children William Cogswell, Emma Silsby Cogswell (Children of Emma Thorndike Proctor)
Alma mater Atkinson Academy, Kimball Union Academy, Phillips Academy, Dartmouth College,
Harvard Law School
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1865
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union army brig gen rank insignia.jpg Brevet Brigadier General

Battles/wars American Civil War

William Cogswell (August 23, 1838 – May 22, 1895) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War who was awarded the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general, U.S. Volunteers.


Cogswell was born in Bradford, Massachusetts, to George Cogswell and Abigail (Parker) Cogswell. Cogswell's father was a well-respected surgeon and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Republican party. His grandfather, William Cogswell was a Surgeon's mate in the Revolutionary War who practiced medicine in Atkinson, New Hampshire, and gave land for the Atkinson Academy. Abigail's[clarification needed] mother died when he was about 7 years old.

Cogswell attended Atkinson Academy in Atkinson, New Hampshire, Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Cogswell entered Dartmouth in 1855, he left Dartmouth soon after and from 1856 to 1857 he went on a voyage around the world, spending two years before the mast as a sailor. When Cogswell returned from his voyage he entered Harvard Law School.

Law practice[edit]

On September 8, 1860 Cogswell was admitted to the bar in Essex County, Massachusetts. He worked for a while in the office of Attorney William D. Northend, and in April 1861 Cogswell opened his own office in Salem, Massachusetts.

Military service[edit]

William Cogswell, circa 1861.

Cogswell was a private in the Second Corps of Cadets, a militia organization of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Cogswell served in the Second Corps of Cadets during the winter of 1860–1861.

On April 19, 1861, word reached Salem that the Sixth Massachusetts had been attacked in Baltimore, Maryland while on its way to defend Washington, D.C. Cogswell turned his office into a recruiting station and in 24 hours raised a full company, the first company in the country recruited for the war. This became Company C of the Second Massachusetts Volunteers with Cogswell as Captain in command.

Cogswell was commissioned a captain in the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, May 11, 1861. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on October 23, 1862, and to colonel on June 25, 1863.

Colonel Cogswell was brevetted Brigadier General of Volunteers by appointment of the President on December 12, 1864 to rank from December 15, 1864, and the award of this honorary grade was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 14, 1865.[2] Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General Cogswell was mustered out of the U.S. Volunteers on July 24, 1865.[3]

Return to the practice of law[edit]

After the Civil War Cogswell resumed the practice of his profession.

Political activities[edit]

He served as mayor of Salem 1867–1869, 1873, and 1874. He served as member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1870, 1871, and 1881–1883. He served in the Massachusetts State Senate in 1885 and 1886. He served as delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1892.

Congressional service[edit]

Cogswell was elected as a Republican to the 50th United States Congress and to the four succeeding congresses and served from March 4, 1887, until his death in Washington, D.C., May 22, 1895. He was interred in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hurd, Duane Hamilton (1888), History of Essex County, Massachusetts: with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume 1, Issue 1, Philadelphia, PA: J.W. Lewis & Co., p. 226. 
  2. ^ Eicher, John H. and Eicher, David J. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3, p. 742.
  3. ^ Eicher and Eicher, 2001, p. 179


External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Eben F. Stone
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 7th congressional district

March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1893
Succeeded by
William Everett
Preceded by
Henry Cabot Lodge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1893 – May 22, 1895
Succeeded by
William H. Moody
Political offices
Preceded by
David Roberts
16th Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts

September 26, 1867–1869
Succeeded by
Nathanial Brown
Preceded by
Samuel Calley
19th Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts

Succeeded by
Henry Laurens Williams