Cadet Flagler c. 1861
Cadet D.W. Flagler (c.1856-61)

I was looking for someone else, actually, when I noticed the name D.W. Flagler on the list of Burnside’s staff at Antietam.

Then I came upon this superb photograph of him, preserved and displayed by the fine folks at Gettysburg College. It really struck me as that of a man who knows what he’s about, even if still fairly young.

Cadet Flagler had entered West Point from New York in June 1856 and did well, graduating fifth in the Class of ’61. He spent the rest of his life in the Army.

After the Academy, he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps and joined the staff of General Ambrose Burnside in time to serve on the North Carolina Expedition of early 1862. The General said of his Ordnance Officer:

… Lieut. D. W. Flagler, of the Ordnance, had charge of the two mortar batteries. …

… The 10-inch mortar battery was commanded by Lieutenant Flagler, of the Ordnance, assisted by Captain Ammen, Third New York Artillery, and Captain Pell, aide-de-camp to the general commanding, who volunteered his services. The 8-inch mortar battery was commanded by Lieutenant Prouty, of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, assisted by Lieutenants Thomas and Kelsey, of the Third New York Artillery. The result shows the efficiency with which the batteries were worked, and I take great pleasure in acknowledging my thanks to these officers…

Flagler remained with Burnside as Ordnance Officer, Ninth Army Corps, at Antietam in September. He was promoted to Captain of Ordnance 3 March 1863, still with the Army of the Potomac.

Flagler and group at Falmouth, April 1863click to see larger image
Group of Officers, Army of the Potomac

Here he is in company with other officers of that Army at Falmouth, Virgina in April 1863. I believe that’s him at far right, second row.*

In 1864 he was assigned to the West Point Foundry under the famous Robert Parrott, commandant.

By the end of the year, however, he was serving at the Bureau of Ordnance, at War Department headquarters, Washington DC, where he finished out the War. By then he had been awarded 3 brevets: for “gallant and meritorious service” at the battle of New Bern, NC and the siege of Ft. Macon, NC; and “distinguished service in the field, and faithful service in the Ordnance Department during the War”.

He continued in Regular Army service at the War Department until 1872, when he was assigned as commanding officer of the Army’s Rock Island Arsenal, a post he vigorously filled for nearly 20 years. While there he advanced through the ranks of Major (1874), Lieutenant Colonel (1881), and Colonel (1890).

Old Executive Office Building
Old Executive Office Building (Formerly State, Navy, and War Departments),
Washington DC (White House photo)

In 1891 he was appointed Brigadier General and Chief of Ordnance, returning to the War Department in Washington. He worked there until his death in 1899 at age 64. He’s buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Service details and his dates are from Heitman’s Historical Register and Dictionary and gravesite at Arlington. Burnside’s praise is from his official report (Official Records) .
According to US Govt Directory of 1893, Brigadier General D. W. Flagler was living at the “The Everett” with offices at the War Department. I’m a longtime Washingtonian, but I’d not heard of, not can I find, the Everett. Anyone?

The notes on the Cadet photograph in ink and pencil were transcribed by a Gettysburg College archivist as:

Allegheny Arsenal-Pittsburg [sic] August 1861
Chief of Ord. on Staff of Gen. Burnside-Cmd’g Expedition to Roanoke Ifc [?]
Ch’f of Ord to Maj Gen Hooker A.P. 1862 [?]
West Point Foundry 1864
Ordn Office War Dept 1864
Comdg Rock Island Arsenal 1872
Affectionably [sic] Your friend & classmate

* The Army of the Potomac group photo is at the US Library of Congress, and is noted as:

Group at Headquarters of Army of Potomac, Falmouth, Va.: J.S. Crocker, Ulric Dahlgren, B.C. Ludlow, A.N. Duffie, E.R. Warner, Lord Abbinger, J. Dickinson, S.F. Barstow, J.B. Howard, D.W. Flagler, Harry Russell, J.R. Coxe and 4 unidentified men.

6 Responses to “Daniel Webster Flagler, Ordnance Department, USA”

  1. Eric Wittenberg says:


    It’s always fascinating how interests converge. Ulric Dahlgren is the third officer from the left in the back row of that group of Federal officers, wearing a broad-brimmed hat. At the time the photo was taken–in the late fall of 1862–he was serving as staff officer at Eleventh Corps headquarters, but was sometimes lent to AoP headquarters.


  2. Brian says:

    Thanks Eric, I thought of you right away when I saw Young Dahlgren in the photo. Glad you saw it. It is fun to find the intersections.

  3. Bill Wells says:

    One of Flagler’s more remarkable achievements has gone unnoticed. He, essentially, singlehandedly rebuilt the Augusta Arsenal while supervising the clean-up, removal, sale, and restocking the Confederate Ordnance left all over the South.

    He had to fight the Freedman’s Bureau in 1866 at Augusta to prevent it from seizing and/or selling off much of the equipment at the Augusta Arsenal. He made many major improvements in Augusta that I am sure he carried with him to Rock Island.

    He also had to contend with the post-war army and its return to overbearing regulations and lack of quality recruits.

  4. Brian says:

    Thanks Bill!

  5. Michael & Bonnie Flynn says:

    We are hosts of the museum at Fort Flagler State Park, Washington State, named in 1899 for Daniel Webster Flagler. We are always interested in more information about him. Thanks for your research.

  6. Brian says:

    Thank you, Flynns. Very nice to hear from you. And what a great looking place for a park.

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