Colonel William A. Phillips

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 appointed to the 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, Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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

Law practice

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

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 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 appointed brigadier general of volunteers by appointment of President Abraham Lincoln on December 12, 1864, to rank from December 15, 1864, and the appointment was confirmed by the United States 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

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

Political activities

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

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


  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 978-0-8047-3641-1, p. 742.
  3. ^ Eicher and Eicher, 2001, p. 179


External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

Political offices
Preceded by
Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts

September 26, 1867 – 1869
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Samuel Calley
Mayor of
Salem, Massachusetts

1872 – 1872
Succeeded by
U.S. 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