This Week in the Civil War - 430

Oct 31, 2012

On October 30, 1862 Union General Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel died of yellow fever while stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina.  A West Point graduate, the multi-talented Mitchel primarily served as a professor at both West Point and Cincinnati College.  In 1845 he personally financed and constructed at Cincinnati the world’s second largest refracting telescope. 

Publishing the first monthly magazine in the United States devoted specifically to astronomy, Mitchel in 1861 volunteered for Union army service, leading a division in the Army of the Ohio from December 1861 to July 1862, while commanding the defenses of Nashville, Tennessee after its capture by the North.  Given command of the Union X Corps in South Carolina in September 1862, “Old Stars” Mitchel—“the father of American astronomy”--soon contracted the disease that took his life.