Mexican-American War Biographies

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BAXTER, CHARLES (1814-1847). Lieutenant colonel, First Regiment New York Volunteers. According to the 1894 Souvenir of the Annual Reunion with Historical Sketch of the Twelfth Regiment N.G.S.N.Y., Baxter was born on December 22, 1814, in New York City. His father Stephen Baxter was, at the time of his son’s birth, a lieutenant and paymaster of a regiment of New York State Volunteers, in the service of the federal government, according to the New York Daily Herald. On July 13, 1848, the newspaper quoted from an address that John Van Buren, President Martin Van Buren’s son, gave on July 12, 1848, in front of New York’s City Hall, as Charles Baxter’s remains, and those of his comrades, were gathered there, to be transported to Green-Wood for interment.

Five of Baxter’s great-uncles, all with the surname of Rosekrans, served as officers in the American army during the Revolutionary War. Baxter’s brother William was a sergeant-major in the United States army and was believed to have been killed in the Florida (Seminole) War.

Little is known of Baxter’s early life. As per the Historical Sketch,  

In 1834, he joined the Pulaski Cadets, commanded by Captain McArdle; in 1834, he raised the company of Kosciusko Cadets; 1839, he was elected Captain for the Scott Cadets, which was afterwards consolidated with the Tompkins Cadets and adopted their name. This corps, swollen by accessions from the Tompkins Blues, was for many years distinguished for its discipline and standing, and in these respects compared advantageously with the best drilled companies in the regular service. 

By 1846, Baxter was serving in the 2nd New York Regiment as its colonel, and had about 70 men under his command. An article in the in The Evening Post, dated June 6, 1846, reports that the Adjutant General of the State inspected the military regiments of the United States volunteers of New York, one of which was Baxter’s. Four months later, The Evening Post reported that Baxter was nominated by the Democratic Party as a candidate for the New York State Assembly and on November 25, 1846, the newspaper cited Baxter as among winners of that position. 

The New York Daily Herald, in its coverage of the Van Buren speech, reported that “in November 1846, the Tompkins Blues, as a testimonial of respect for Baxter’s character, presented him with a splendid sword, bearing upon one side of the blade the motto Thy energy won me,’ and on the other ‘Thy courage will hold me.’ A resolution was also passed requesting him to retain command of the company, which he did till the day of this death.”

At the onset of the Mexican-American War, Baxter resigned his seat in the Assembly, per the New York Daily Herald’s report, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the First New York Volunteers. In his biological sketch, the Souvenir of the Annual Reunion with Historical Sketch of the Twelfth Regiment N.G.S.N.Y. includes the following Company Order, Number 1 as written by R. French, Lieutenant Commandant:  

New York, January 4th, 1847 

Sir –  

…In issuing this, my first order, after assuming the temporary Command of the Company, in consequence of the promotion, of Captain Charles Baxter, to Lieutenant Colonel of the first Regiment of USNY Volunteers, I avail myself of the opportunity to say to you separately, and collectively, that during the short time I may be in command, it shall be my constant effort and ambition to promote harmony, and to command your respect and confidence as an officer by Desert; upon no other ground could they confer honor upon either party…I cannot close this order without expressing the regret which I, in common with the members feel, that any cause should exist for the separation of Colonel Baxter from the Company, but it is gratifying to know that he has entered upon a more extended field of usefulness, and upon which we are satisfied that he will be as distinguished as he was in this City, as a disciplinarian and a gentleman; and if any opportunity should occur, that he would not only do honor to himself and his country, but also to the Independent Tomkins Blues . . . . No other compliment extended to Captain Baxter, on his return, could be so gratifying to him, as for the Corps, by its own united efforts, to be enabled to present to him, in harmony, discipline and subordination, with a full front. 

Baxter’s regiment left New York in January 1847 and arrived at Lobos Island, Mexico, where the troops were concentrated for military instruction in anticipation of combat in Veracruz. Per John Van Buren’s speech, as reported in the New York Daily Herald, “his military skill was there noticed, and . . . he was detailed as a military instructor of brigade.” He commanded a detachment of eighty men at the battle of Veracruz in March 1847, defeating and routing the Mexicans. He was also at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, April 18, 1847, “where a portion of his regiment were distinguished,” the Battle of Contreras, August 19-20, 1847, where “many of the enemy were killed and wounded,” and the Battle of Churubusco, on August 20, 1847. General James Shields, in his report of that battle, offers his gratitude to Lieutenant Colonel Baxter, of the New York volunteers, among other officers, for “their zealous and fearless support during the conflict.”

The Battle of Chapultepec was fought from September 12 to September 14, 1847. With three American divisions advancing on Chapultepec, the United States Army seized control of the Mexican fort. As per his biography, Baxter took part in the Battle of Chapultepec, was mortally wounded – receiving two musket balls in the groin – and died at the age of thirty-two in Mexico City on September 18, 1848. An excerpt from his biographical sketch states:  

His last words to his father, as related in a letter written by a gentleman in whose arms he died (a friend of Baxter’s), will illustrate the deep interest he felt in the glory of his regiment, the honor of his State, and his own fame. 

On the night of his death, he awoke from a doze, and in the following jocose manner, addressed his friend: – 

“Mac – Doc – what are you doing?” 

The Doctor answered that he was writing to his father. 

“Then say to him the New York regiment was there, and that I fell where I should have fallen, at the head of it.” 

The officers of the Second Regiment of New York Volunteers, upon learning of Baxter’s death, passed resolutions expressing the high regard they held for him. Similar resolutions were adopted by the Independent Guard, as well as the Independent Tompkins Blues of New York City, which changed their names to Baxter Blues, as a memento to the memory and honor of their late commandant. The New York State Legislature passed resolutions expressing their sorrow at his death and both bodies adjourned as a mark of respect to his memory.

Unfortunately, the Americans who had fallen in battle in Mexico were buried near when they fell. According to the Green-Wood Cemetery article, “At Long Last,” by Jeff Richman, it took almost a year for the soldiers’ remains to be returned to the United States: 

New York City’s Common Council (the equivalent of today’s City Council) had deputized Lieutenant Alexander Forbes (see) to go to Mexico and retrieve their remains. Forbes had done his job well-he located their graves, dug up their remains, and headed back towards New York with them. But he didn’t get very far; fever caught up with him in New Orleans, and he died on June 22, 1848. Lieutenant Robert Floyd stepped into the breach; he assumed responsibility for the bodies, now with Forbes’s body added, and brought them by steamboat and railroad to New York. They came through Buffalo and down the Hudson, arriving on July 4, Independence Day. 

Five bodies (Colonel Charles Baxter, Captain James Barclay, Lieutenant Charles Gallagher, Lieutenant Alexander Forbes and Lieutenant Edgar Chandler) were brought to Green-Wood on July 12 (1848) …After the men were interred, the First Regiment agreed to mark their graves, fence the lot, and erect a suitable monument. But little of that was ever done. As of 1875, only wooden boards marked their graves. In 1901, The New York Times wrote about the sad condition of the lot . . . .

So, next Friday, on July 13 (2012), we (Green-Wood Cemetery) will do the right thing. When we walk out to the final resting place of these officers, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, an Armed Forces color guard will lead the way as a drummer beats the cadence. Ten bronze plaques, mounted on granite, will be unveiled to mark the graves of the men buried in that lot…Finally after 164 years in Green-Wood’s ground, these men will lie in marked graves. 

 John Van Buren’s speech ended with these words:

Thus departed the spirit of one of the most promising and gallant young officers that ever entered the volunteer service of his country. His skill and courage were acknowledged and admired by all who have served with him in the achievement of those splendid victories, from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico, which will be so memorable in our national history. In his death, his country has lost a valuable and distinguished officer and patriot, his State a good citizen, and a large circle of acquaintances an esteemed friend. He was kind in feeling, gentle in his deportment, and in all his relations of life conducted himself with the strictest propriety and integrity.

In honor of his service and sacrifice, New York City renamed Orange Street to Baxter Street. The street is located between Mulberry and Centre Streets in what is now Little Italy and Chinatown. Section 107, lot 2230. 

FAIRCHILD, MORTON (1806-1860). Captain, First Regiment of the United States Volunteers of New York, Company I. According to Green-Wood Burial and Vital Records, Morton was born in the state of New York; the inscription on his burial plaque states he was born in 1806. Little is known of Morton’s early life. Records from indicate that he married Sarah Merrill Swartwout, born in 1811, on June 1, 1836, at the 2nd Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York. The couple had one child, Loveland Fairchild, also known as Abner Loveland Fairchild.  Sarah passed away in 1842, a few years before the Mexican-American War began in 1846.

A number of volunteer companies departed for service in Mexico under the command of Colonel Ward B. Burnett. Included in the roster was Captain Fairchild commanding Company and the balance of Company K. As per the New York State Military Museum, Morton served in the Mexican-American War in the First Regiment of the United States Volunteers of New York. He participated in numerous battles as detailed in the following excerpt: “Captain Morton Fairchild was engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz, the battles of Cerro Gordo, slightly wounded, Contreras and Churubusco, slightly wounded, the storming of the castle of Chapultepec, the Garita de Belen, slightly wounded, and the entering of the city of Mexico.”

The report from General Twiggs of the New York Volunteers to Colonel Ward Burnett, dated April 28, 1847, from Jalapa, Mexico, states, “I have the pleasing duty of laying before you the names of the gallant New Yorkers who accompanied me in the pursuit of Santa Anna’s army from Cerro Gordo on the 18th of April 1847. Their advanced position, when the Mexican army broke, enabled them to partake in all the glory of the day.” Among those listed in the roster was Captain Morton Fairchild, who was among those lauded by Colonel Burnett in his description of the events that took place prior to and during the Battle of Churubusco.

The report from Lieutenant Colonel James C. Burnham to Captain F. N. Page describes the events that took place in August of 1847 at Chapultepec. Within this report, Morton is mentioned twice: “At dusk a large working party was detailed from the New York and Pennsylvania regiments, and placed under command of Captain Fairchild, in order to erect a battery in front of the Garita, as well as to strengthen our position in other respects. . . .” Burnham continued: “In closing my report, I must do justice to those gallant officers, by particular notices, whose assistance to me, both in the attack on Chapultepec and the advance on the city,, added greatly to the brilliant results of the day. They were captains Barclay, Taylor, Hungerford, Fairchild and Pearson…”

Another source, A Dictionary of All Officers Who Have Been Commissioned, or Have Been Appointed and Served, in the Army of the United States, describes Morton’s service: “Captain in Brunett’s regular New York Volunteers in the Mexican War: distinguished and wounded in battle of Churubusco; distinguished and wounded in attack on De Belen Gate.”

All reports cited above, as well as Fairchild’s grave marker, list him as a captain. The American Biographical Library and his obituary in the Brooklyn Evening Star indicate that, subsequent to his service in Mexico, he was promoted to brevet major; and refers to him as a major.

After the war, Morton worked as a custom house inspector, a position often of political patronage. According to Wikipedia, “The United States Custom House, sometimes referred to as the New York Custom House, was the place where the United States Customs Service collected federal customs duties on imported goods within New York City.” An article appeared in the March 26, 1844 issue of the New-York Tribune casting an unfavorable light on the custom house inspectors, including Morton. The news item states:

The favored citizens of this Commonwealth are graciously permitted to pay a pretty round sum for the advantage of having their flour, beef, pork, leather, grain, etc. duly ‘inspected’ and ‘measured’ for them – so that they may not be cheated! From a recent Report to the Legislature on this subject, we compile some interesting statistics:

There were during the year 1843, three hundred and seventy-nine Inspectors in commission – only 68 of whom have made returns according to the requisitions of the Legislature…The gross amount of fees received during the year by these 68 Inspectors was $162, 329.86. Among some of the items which go to make up tis pretty little sum, we notice the following…

The article enumerates the name of some inspectors, the product, and the value ‘measured’. Included in the list is Morton Fairchild with a value of $13,972.70 placed on beef and pork.

As per the 1850 federal census, the forty-three-year-old Morton lived in New York City and worked in the custom house office. He had remarried and resided with his second wife, Anna. Also listed in the household is Bridget Kerr, although no relationship to the couple is cited. The 1855 New York State census documents that the couple still resided in New York City. Also in the household were Morton’s son, Loveland, a servant, Eureka Swartze, and three lodgers, James H. King, C.V.C. Smith, and Abraham Westervelt. Morton’s age is erroneously recorded as forty-two (he was forty-nine at the time of the census). According to the 1860 federal census, Morton was a custom house inspector. His wife is listed as Amelia. Since there are no records of a divorce from or the death of Ana, it is unclear if Amelia is his third wife or Anna’s name is incorrectly inscribed. Morton’s occupation as a custom house inspector documented in the three census records is also recorded in the New York Vital Records. 

Fairchild passed away on August 3, 1860, as recorded in the death announcements in the Brooklyn Evening Star’s August 6, 1860 issue. Green-Wood Burial and Vital Records documents the cause of death as consumption. However, the New York, New York Vital Records indicate anemia as the cause of death. An additional listing for Major Morton Fairchild (1806-1860) indicates there is a cenotaph at Olde Mount Ida Cemetery, where his first wife is interred. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, “A cenotaph is a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere.” A brief biography of Morton also appears in the American Biographical Library. The tribute to Morton states:

Fairchild, Morton, brevet major in the Mexican war, native of Troy, and orderly serg. of the Troy citizens guard; served in every battle in the Mexican war except that of Molino del Rey, and at Cerro Gordo led his regiment with great bravery; he died in New York August 3, 1860, at 54; a few years since a committee of the community council of New York awarded him a gold snuff box, left in the will of General Jackson, to the man, a citizen of New York, who should evince the greatest bravery in the first foreign war.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Morton’s service in the war was the 2012 commemoration of his service, and that of his comrades, at Green-Wood Cemetery. According to the Green-Wood Historian’s Blog, dated July 5, 2012:

It was not business-as-usual in New York City on July 12, 1848. The remains of the officers of New York’s First Regiment who had died in the far-off Mexican-American War had finally come home…Five bodies were brought to Green-Wood on July 12. The Baxter Blues, Company H of the 12th New York Regiment, fired three volleys and offered a parting salute. The next day these remains were joined by those of Captain Charles H. Pearson. And soon they were joined by Lieutenant John Kline, who had lived in Brooklyn but served with the Louisiana Rangers and was killed in Mexico near National Bridge. Three years later, Lieutenant Robert Floyd, who had brought the bodied back from New Orleans, and had died in Panama in 1849 of fever, was himself interred in that lot. Still later, in the 1860’s, Captain Morton Fairchild and Private Alfred Lombard also were interred there. In all, 10 bodies lie in the Mexico Lot. They are buried in cruciform around the granite base: three on its front side, three at its back, two to the left and two to the right.

A week later, the July 13, 2012 issue of the New York Times published an article entitled, “A Century and a Half Later, Paying Respect to 10 Soldiers.” The article relates the placement of bronze plaques to honor 10 men, (eight veterans of the Mexican-American War and two who brought their bodies back. Among those named in the article is Morton Fairchild. Section 107, lot 22300.

FORBES, ALEXANDER STANTON (or F.) (1819-1848). Second lieutenant, Second Regiment, New York Volunteers. Forbes was born in Montreal, Canada. Although the bronze plaque at his grave and his Find A Grave biography list his birth year as 1819, that may be incorrect. According to Vital and Church Records from Quebec, Canada, Alexander was born on December 10, 1818 and baptized on January 1, 1819 at St. Andrew’s Church in Quebec City. His parents were John and Sarah Forbes and his religion is listed as Presbyterian. A book about Forbes’s daughter entitled Virginia Isabel Forbes, written by her husband, Francis Whiting Halsey, traces the family’s roots back to Scotland. The name Forbes means free land- that is, land free from mandatory military service.

Forbes was a second lieutenant in the Second Regiment, New York Volunteers but that regiment was not called to serve in the Mexican-American War. But he wanted to serve and was well acquainted with the fallen officers of the First New York. So, he applied to New York City’s Common Council to go on its behalf to Mexico to bring back the bodies of the city’s fallen who had been buried on the battlefields of Churubusco and Chapultepac where they had died. His application was supported by members of the Baxter Blues, whose colonel, Charles Baxter (see), was one of those whose body was to be retrieved.

Forbes, with papers from the War department and on behalf of the Common Council, was in Mexico for months, a place where there was no embassy or staff to help him. On May 6, 1848, Forbes wrote from Mexico to the Special Committee that had dispatched him. He described his difficulties in carrying out his mission but ended his long letter with the following tribute:

I have been very kindly received, and every attention offered me by officers and others attached to the army, and assign it more particularly to this reason; that the high position our gallant regiment hold in the minds of all such, serves but to make each anxious to see who can do the most to second the wishes of your Honorable Body in your patriotic efforts to respect their dead—and although proud as I am of my position as an agent of the empire city in this business, I feel more proud of them—it almost leads to envy. I believe every New Yorker would be the same were he here to see and listen to the respect paid, and encomiums showered upon our noble representatives, by all belonging to the army; they are considered a band of Invincibles.

Sadly, after retrieving the bodies of the fallen, he made it alive only as far as New Orleans with their remains. It was then the peak of the malaria season. In a letter dated June 22, 1848, Lieutenant Robert Floyd wrote to Forbes’s brother, reporting that he had arrived in New Orleans and heard that Alexander was there also. He went to meet him and found Alexander ill with what Alexander described as seasickness. Concerned, and believing that it might be a fever, he summoned two doctors who diagnosed the problem as “black vomit.” Alexander rallied and the doctors believed he would recover, but he died of “fever” on June 20, 1848. Lieutenant Floyd then took over the task and brought the bodies, including Forbes’s in a lead coffin, home to New York City.

Upon the return of the volunteers and Forbes, there was an elaborate yet somber ceremony at New York’s City Hall that attracted a crowd of more than 20,000 people.

On September 22, 1848, the New York Daily Herald reported that a target company was formed and called the “Forbes Association” in honor of Alexander Forbes. That article indicates that the company returned from an excursion and the men, numbering about thirty muskets, wore black frock coats and pants, designating mourning. Reports of the Special Committee that dispatched Forbes note that he also retrieved the bodies of Colonel Baxter and Captains Pearson and Van Olinda.

Alexander’s estate was probated on November 25, 1848. His widow, Sarah Ann Forbes (née Kingsland), attested that he did not have a will; she was named the administrator of her husband’s estate. He was also survived by daughters, Virginia, born in 1846, and Adelaide, an infant, his brothers John William and George D., and his mother, also named Sarah. Probate records note that he died after a three-day bout with yellow fever and had been an innkeeper in New York City. Other records note that he had rallied after being sick for about a week, then took sick again and died shortly thereafter.

As per Green-Wood’s magazine, The Arch, the soldiers and the two men who retrieved their remains were buried in unmarked graves for more than one hundred years. Only a large granite base into which was cut “Mexico” marked the lot. Later, three other men associated with the war were interred in the same lot. Jeffrey Richman, the Green-Wood historian, learned of their story shortly before publication of the aforementioned article. Although a monument was planned for the soldiers and others soon after their interment, it never was erected. Green-Wood successfully petitioned the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and fitting bronze plaques were unveiled at the gravesites.

Forbes’s plaque bears these words of one of his peers: “Thus terminated the earthly career of one whose purposes in life were bright, leaving a wife and child to mourn over the loss of a protector and father, and a large circle of friends to lament the untimely end of one of their dearest associates. Entrusted in life with the mission of restoring the dead to their living relatives and friends, he returned united to them….” Section 107, lot 2230.

KLINE, JOHN (1815-1847). Second lieutenant, Battalion of Louisiana Mounted Volunteers. According to Green-Wood records, John Kline was born in Brooklyn on December 23, 1815. He was living in Brooklyn when he left to fight in the Mexican-American War. The inscription on his gravestone lists him as a second lieutenant in the Louisiana Mounted Volunteers during the Mexican War. The article, “At Long Last . . . ,” found at, describes Kline as serving with the Louisiana Rangers. Per the book, History of the War Between the United States and Mexico: From the Commencement of Hostilities to the Ratification of the Treaty of Peace, he served in Captain Lewis’s company.

Kline was killed in battle on September 23, 1847, at Paso de Ovejas, Mexico, near the National Bridge (Puente Nacional). It was a brief conflict, and the Mexicans were driven off. Kline was not married at the time of his death. On July 12, 1848, Kline’s remains were brought home to Brooklyn, with much fanfare. The August 19, 1848 Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on a reception held at Mrs. Prest’s City Hotel, in Kline’s honor. Per the September 16, 1848 Brooklyn Evening Star, his body lay in state at the City Hotel and then were taken to St. John’s Church where a funeral service was held and from which a procession to Green-Wood left. The mayors and councils of Brooklyn, New York, and Williamsburg attended, as well as other dignitaries and members of the military. Kline’s remains were interred on September 19, 1848, per New York, New York Vital Records, 1798-1903, beside the bodies of other soldiers who perished during the war with Mexico. Section 107, lot 2230.

PEARSON, CHARLES H. (1816-1847). Captain, First Regiment of New York Volunteers, Mexican-American War. Born in Maine in 1815, Charles H. Pearson was a descendent of a number of illustrious American soldiers, according to an oration delivered by John Van Buren, the son of President Martin Van Buren, in front of New York’s City Hall, on July 12, 1848, at a ceremony honoring the New York men who fell during the War with Mexico. Pearson’s grandfather, Nathaniel Pearson, served under General George Washington during the American Revolution and his father, Charles H. Pearson, taken prisoner by the British during the War of 1812, was confined for two years in the notorious Dartmoor Prison in England. The younger Charles’s date and place of birth are in dispute; according to the New York Daily Herald’s July 13, 1848 article about John Van Buren’s speech, he was born in Portland, Maine, on May 13, 1815, while the July 13, 1848 Brooklyn Daily Eagle shows a birth year of 1816, and the July 16, 1848 Brooklyn Daily Eagle writes that he was born in Kennebunkport, Maine, on March 22, 1816. A May 31, 1850 Daily Eagle article identifies Robert W. Pearson, who was a steamship captain, as his brother.

Pearson was educated at the Wesleyan Seminary, in Reedfield, Maine, and moved to Brooklyn at about 17 years of age. Per his obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of July 13, 1848, he devoted much of his time to military pursuits. 

Pearson commanded the Brooklyn Light Guards for several years. According to the July 13, 1848 New York Daily Herald, the corps was distinguished for the discipline and good conduct of its soldiers. After Pearson’s death, the corps was renamed the Pearson Guards. His eagerness to engage in the Mexican campaign encouraged him, although chosen a captain in the Second Regiment of New York Volunteers, to accept a lieutenancy with the First Regiment of New York volunteers, when it was called for battle. He was then promoted to captain when a captain in that company resigned. It is noted in the Find A Grave website that he fought in every battle of the Mexican-American War. He commanded Company E and was the color captain of his regiment. The Brooklyn Eagle’s July 16, 1848 account of the sermon at his funeral sermon notes his bravery at the victorious siege of Vera Cruz, his first battle, and at Cerro Gordo, where he was wounded. He then fought in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco and was again wounded on September 13, 1847, in the storming of the fortress of Chapultepec. He then was carried to Mexico City, where he died on October 10, 1847.

On July 12, 1848, a ceremony was held in front of New York’s City Hall to honor the officers of New York’s First Regiment who had fallen in Mexico and were about to be interred in Green-Wood. A crowd of 20,000 attended. The next day, July 13, 1848, Pearson’s remains were brought to Green-Wood for interment. Section 16, lot 5668.

PRENTISS, JAMES HENRY (1810-1848). Captain, First Regiment, United States Artillery. The only son of James and Sophia Gardner Mellen Prentiss, James Henry Prentiss was born in Massachusetts in 1810. His father was born in New Jersey. His mother, born in Massachusetts, was the daughter of Nathaniel Gardner of Boston. She was, at the time of her marriage in Watertown on November 6, 1805, the widow of Leonard Mellen. Sophia Prentiss may have had a daughter with her first marriage. In 1816 the Prentiss’s daughter, Sarah Ann Hunt Prentiss, was born and records indicate that there may have been another daughter, Julia Matilda Gardner Prentiss, born about 1806.

James Henry Prentiss was appointed on July 1, 1826, to the United State Military Academy at West Point from the state of Indiana. He graduated in 1830, per Down the Santa Fé Trail and into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, and entered service as a brevet second lieutenant of artillery. According to The History and Genealogy of the Prentice or Prentiss Family, he served with honor in the Indian War, known as the Black Hawk Campaign, and the Seminole Wars. He was first lieutenant and aide-de-camp to General Abraham Eustis and fought in the Skirmish of Okihumphy Swamp on March 30, 1826.

Prentiss went to Europe with General Lewis Cass, then minister to France, temporarily, as secretary of legation, and traveled with General Cass and family in Europe and Asia. As written by the Daily National Tribune’s New York correspondent on October 13, 1848, it was in Europe, “mingling in the highest and most polished society of the capitals of the old world, he was among the distinguished, ever maintaining the dignity of an American scholar, soldier, and gentleman.”

In 1839 Prentiss was appointed adjutant-general, with rank as captain, and he was captain of the First United States Artillery in the Mexican-American War. He remained with General Zachary Taylor’s army through the war. He entered the field of war in Mexico in General John Ellis Wool’s column, marching through Chihuahua, September 12 to December 1846, and held the post of honor at Reconceda during the operations at Buena Vista in 1847.

On May 14, 1848, Captain Isaac Bowen mentioned Prentiss in a letter he wrote to his wife from Saltillo, Mexico on May 14, 1848, hoping that peace will occur soon and that the troops would return home soon. In that letter, Bowen wrote “”Captain Prentiss, who has been indisposed since his return from Monterrey, has been dangerously sick during the last week and on Friday his situation was extremely critical, but I am happy to say that the crisis has passed and he is recovering very rapidly. I have not met a man since I have been in the army whom I esteem more highly or who is always the perfect gentleman than Captain Prentiss.”

In News from Brownsville: Helen Chapman’s Letters from the Texas Military Frontier, 1848-1852, Helen Chapman relates that Prentiss and Robert E. Lee were close friends. Prentiss served as a groomsman at Lee’s wedding, and they were messmates when stationed in Washington, D.C. Lee and Prentiss were also messmates on the march to Chihuahua under General Wool.

Prentiss was on frontier duty, temporarily in charge of Fort Polk, at Port Isabel, Texas, as peace in the Mexican-American War was reached. It was there that he was overtaken by yellow fever and died on September 22, 1848. The Matamoros Flag newspaper wrote in his obituary that he was:

. . . eminently endowed with all those traits of character and qualities of head and heart which ennoble our nature, Capt. Prentiss was among the most highly esteemed of the officers of our gallant army. In the peaceful walks of life, as upon the battle-field, the same: the pride of manhood and the soul of honor. Accomplished in scholarship as in arms, he was the delight of the social circle and the idol of the service.

Prentiss’s mother, who died in 1851, and his father, who died in 1857, are also interred in the same Green-Wood plot, as is his sister Sarah Ann Hunt Prentiss Langley. Section 101, lot 5480.

Battle of Buena Vista, Mexican-American War.