Wheelock Graves Veazey
Colonel, United States Army
Wheelock Graves, of Rutland, son of Jonathan and Annie (Stevens) Veazey,
was born in Brentwood, New Hampshire, December 5, 1835. Brentwood was the
home of his ancestors back through many generations.
He received his early scholastic education at Phillips (Exeter) Academy, matriculated at Dartmouth College and graduated therefrom in the class of 1859. Having selected the practice of law for the future labor of his life he studied in law offices and in the law school at Albany, New York, and graduated there in 1860. He began practice in Springfield in November, 1860, and was admitted to the Vermont bar at the next December term of the Windsor county court.
Veazey was actuated by clear conviction of duty and animated by patriotic enthusiasm when he enlisted as a private in Company A of the 3d Regiment of Vermont Volunteers. When the company was organized in the month of May, 1861, he was elected to the captaincy, and in the following August received promotion to the ranks of major and lieutenant-colonel, and continued to hold the latter rank until sent home to bring out a new regiment in the fall of 1862.
On 27 September, 1862, he was elected Colonel of the 16th Regt. Vt. Vols. With this gallant body of men he continued to serve until August 10, 1863, when, with his regiment at the expiration of its term, he was mustered out of the service of the United States. General Hancock then assured him a brigadiership if he returned to the service, but his health would not permit. During his military experience Colonel Veazey took part in many of the battles of the Army of the Potomac. For some time he was a member of the staff of Gen. W. F. (Baldy) Smith, and on several occasions was placed in command of other regiments besides his own. In the seven days' battles before Richmond, in 1862, he was a participant, commanding either his own regiment or some other to which he was temporarily detailed. At Gettysburg the 16th Vt. formed a part of the third division of the First Army Corps under General Doubleday, and actively shared in the sanguinary encounters of the three days of the greatest battle of the war. In the battle of the second day, near its close, his regiment was in the fight between the corps of General Sickles and the rebel forces under General Longstreet.
That evening Colonel Veazey was ordered to take his regiment and others and establish a picket line along that portion of the field where the battle of the second day had been fought. The position of the Sixteenth in that line was along that part where Long-street's corps made the famous charge of the third day. This is popularly known as Pickett's charge. Veazey's regiment was, therefore, in the pathway of Pickett's division, and not having been relieved on the morning of the third, on account of the difficulty of doing it, owing to the severity of the skirmishing on the picket line during the morning, was the first to be struck by the charging column. Under Veazey's order the men resisted the rebel skirmishers, but when their main lines approached, Veazey, instead of falling back through the Union lines, moved his men to the left just far enough to uncover the rebel front, and thereby had them in position to attack their flank as the column passed him. About that time General Hancock, then commanding all that portion of the Union lines, dashed down to the danger point where Pickett's charge was aimed, and was there wounded and bleeding on the field as Veazey moved his regiment back and to right to take position on the left of the Thirteenth Vermont in the deadly assault made by these regiments, which crushed Pickett's right flank. In this movement Veazey passed where Hancock was bleeding and refusing to be taken from the field. The latter watching and appreciating the movement, said to Veazey: "That's right, Colonel, go in and give 'em hell on the flank." Veazey's next move was to get his men into line, as they were scattered over the field gathering in prisoners, and again change front to the left and charge the flank of Perry's and Wilcox's approaching brigades, which he crushed, capturing many hundred prisoners and two stands of colors. This was the substantial close of the battle of Gettysburg.
This young officer's feats in the battle gave him a national reputation, and secured him a Medal of Honor, under a resolution of Congress, having upon it an inscription as follows: "The Congress to Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, 16th Vt. Vols. For Distinguished Gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863."
Colonel Veazey returned to Vermont in 1863, and, as soon as health badly shattered in the service would permit, resumed the practice of his profession at Rutland, and continued in practice until October, 1879.
From 1864 to 1873, by virtue of eight consecutive elections, he served as reporter of the Supreme Court, and in this capacity prepared nine volumes of the Vermont Reports.
In 1872 and 1873, he represented the citizens of Rutland county in the state Senate, and officiated in that body as chairman of the committee on military affairs and also in the committee on the judiciary. In 1874 he received the appointment of register in bankruptcy, and retained it until the repeal of the bankrupt law. In 1878, he and Hon. C. W. Willard were appointed commissioners by Governor Proctor to revise the laws of the state. The revision was duly made, reported, adopted by the Legislature in 1880, and is now in force as the revised laws of Vermont. In the same connection Judge Veazey also made a searching investigation and report to the Legislature upon the subject of court expenses, which resulted in a reduction of the same to a very large amount.
The elevation of a lawyer so competent and judicious to the bench was simply a question of time. It came in 1879 by his appointment as judge of the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge Dunton. Beginning with 1880, and including 1888, Judge Veazey was at each biennial session elected a judge of the Supreme Court. This position he resigned in 1889 to accept an appointment as a member of the interstate commerce commission, the duties of which important place he continues to perform.
In the educational, financial and corporate institutions of the state, Judge Veazey was naturally deeply interested. He was one of the trustees of Dartmouth college from 1879 and until his resignation in 1891; he has also been trustee or director of other educational as well as industrial institutions in and out of the state. Before going upon the bench, Colonel Veazey was active in public and political affairs. He was a delegate-at-large to the national Republican convention at Cincinnati, which nominated Rutherford B. Hayes for President. He has always taken the greatest interest in his comrades of the war, and been connected with them in their organizations, state and national. Colonel Veazey was one of the early department commanders of the Grand Army of the Republic in Vermont, and has been president of the Reunion Society of Vermont Officers. In 1890 he was elected commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a position than which there is none more honorable in the Union. In all the high places held by him–-in military and civil life–-he has kept the respect, won the admiration and had the affection of his old comrades, and of his fellow-citizens. He received the honorable degree of LL. D. from Dartmouth college in 1887.
He was married on the 22d of June, 1861, to Julia A., daughter of Hon. Albin and Julia A. Beard, at Nashua, N. H. They have had four children, two of whom are living.
He died at Washington, D.C. on March 22, 1898
and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1863, being promoted to Colonel of the 16th Vermont Volunteer Infantry in October 1862. He earned the Medal of Honor at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1863 when during Pickett's Charge he "Rapidly assembled his regiment and charged the enemy's flank; charged the front under heavy fire, and charged and destroyed a Confederate brigade, all this with new troops in their first battle."
He resumed the practice of law in August 1863 and served as a reporter of the Supreme Court of Vermone in 1864-72. He was a Judge of the State Supreme Court from 1879 to 1889 and a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission from 1889 to 1897.
He aided in the founding of the Grand Army of the Republic in Vermont and was Commander in Chief of the GAR in 1890.
He died at Washington, D.C. on March 22, 1898 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Julia Beard Veazy (1836-1928), is buried with him.
NOTE: His daughter, Annie
Veazey Walton, and her husband, Clifford Stevens Walton, Major, United
States Army, are also buried in Section 2.
March 23, 1898 – Wheelock G. Veazy of Vermont, soldier and lawyer, formerly a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, died last evening in Washington, D.C. He was born December 5, 1835 in Brentwood, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, and was educated at Phillips Exter Academy, Dartmouth College. He studied law at the Albany Law School and was admitted to the bat in Windsor County, Vermont, in December 1860. H began to practice in Springfield, Vermont, and when the Civil War began he enlisted as a Private in Company A, Third Vermont Infantry. He was made Captain of that Company in May 1861. In August of the same year he was made Major and in the fall of 1862 he became Colonel of a Regiment. Later he was Chief of Staff of General William F. Smith.
Upon returning from the Army at the expiration of his term of service, in the fall of 1863, he resumed his law practice in Rutland. One year later he was elected Reporter of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of that State and he was repeatedly reelected to that office until 1872, during which time he prepared and published nine volumes of decisions. In the Fall of 1872 he was elected State Senator and the following year he was appointed a Register in Bankruptcy. In 1879 he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Vermont and he continued to hold that office by legislative biennial elections until his appointment as Interstate Commerce Commissioner in September 1889. Soon after going on the bench he was appointed a Commissioner for revising the statutes of the State and also upon the question of court expenses.
He was a delegate at large from Vermont to the Republican National Convention that nominated General Hayes for the Presidency. He was a charter member of the Roberts Post Number 14, G.A.R., at Rutland. He was Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic of Vermont in 1871, 1872, and 1873. He served a Judge Advocate General upon the staff of the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1877 and 1888.
For many years Mr. Veazy was one of the trustees of Dartmouth College and of other educational institutions. He received the degree of LL.D. from Dartmouth in 1886.
He was married June 22, 1861 to Miss Julia
A. Beard, daughter of Albin Beard, proprietor and editor of the Nashua,
New Hampshire, Telegraph.
VEAZEY, WHEELOCK G
Rank and organization: Colonel, 16th Vermont Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 3 July 1863. Entered service at: Springfield, Vermont. Born: 5 December 1835, Brentwood, New Hampshire. Date of issue: 8 September 1891.
Rapidly assembled his regiment and charged the enemy's flank; charged front under heavy fire, and charged and destroyed a Confederate brigade, all this with new troops in their first battle.
Photo courtesy of Raymond L. Collins
Updated: 7 October 2000 Updated: 19 May 2001 Updated: 25 May 2002 Updated: 3 June 2003 Updated: 15 May 2004 Updated: 11 September 2005 Updated: 13 November 2007 Updated: 26 December 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 23 April 2004