Military Wiki
René Edward De Russy
René Edward de Russy as Brigadier General
Born (1789-02-22)February 22, 1789
Died November 23, 1865(1865-11-23) (aged 76)
Place of birth Saint-Domingue (now Haiti)
Place of death San Francisco, California
Buried at West Point Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1812 - 1865
Rank Colonel
Brevet Brigadier general
Unit Corps of Engineers
Commands held Superintendent of the United States Military Academy

René Edward De Russy (February 22, 1789 – November 23, 1865) was an engineer, military educator, and career United States Army officer who was responsible for erecting many Eastern United States coastal fortifications. He served as superintendent of the United States Military Academy and was promoted to brigadier general during the American Civil War.

Early life[]

René Edward De Russy was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) on February 22, 1789. Two years later, the De Russy family moved to Old Point Comfort, Virginia. At the age of 18, De Russy enrolled into the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on March 20, 1807, and graduated on June 10, 1812, at the bottom of his class.

Military career[]

After West Point, De Russy worked as the assistant engineer for New York State's defenses and helped to build Fort Montgomery, Rouses Point on the United States-Canada border. In the late 1810s he became the Superintending Engineer of the defenses of New York Harbor. However, after that he was sent south to build forts along the Gulf of Mexico, from 1821 to 1825. In 1825 he returned to New York where he continued to build the Harbor's defenses, specifically Fort Hamilton. The Brooklyn Eagle reported that De Russy was the “engineer under whose direction Fort Hamilton was built, the corner stone of which was laid on June 11, 1825, and which was first garrisoned by troops on November 1, 1831.” During this stay in New York De Russy inspected the construction of the New Utrecht Reformed Church in and built his home, which the Brooklyn Eagle referred to as “The Lookout” because it overlooked the harbor, situated as it was on the very top of the hill that became Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York.

On July 1, 1833, he became Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, in which he supervised for five years.[1] Thereafter, he was sent south again to build forts in Virginia and Delaware. Because of his extensive career, De Russy became a member of the Atlantic Coast Defense Board from 1849 until 1854, when he was sent to San Francisco, where he built military forts and aptly became member of the Pacific Coast Defense Board. In 1857 he was sent back to the Atlantic Coast but returned to San Francisco in 1861; “he died while on active duty at San Francisco on November 23, 1865, aged 75 years, the oldest graduate of the Military Academy on active duty.” While in the military he rose to the rank of Brigadier General and invented the barbette depressing gun carriage. He is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery.

There are five Forts DeRussy in the United States. Fort DeRussy Military Reservation in Honolulu, two in Louisiana, one in Kentucky, and one in Washington, D.C. The latter four were all built during the American Civil War. All of the forts were named for two brothers, Lewis Gustave and René Edward De Russy. Lewis was also a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1814. Lewis, as a major general of the Louisiana Militia, was the oldest West Point graduate to serve on the Confederate side, while hisolder brother René served on the Union side.

See also[]

  • Brooklyn Eagle
  • Dyker Heights Historical Society


External links[]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sylvanus Thayer
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Richard Delafield

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