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Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon, U.S.V.

Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon is a native of New Jersey, which State, throughout the war of the Rebellion, as is well known, was true to its history and traditions (distinguished as they were for patriotic devotion). It was among the very first to respond to the call of President Lincoln for seventy-five thousand men, and its response was not only made promptly, but in a very substantial and effective manner. The troops it furnished under that requisition constituted a well-equipped brigade of four regiments, and were the first which, as a brigade, went forth to the defense of the threatened capital of the nation, and they rendered very important service at a very critical time in the history of the country. They were among the first defenders. The brigade referred to was commanded by General Theodore Runyon. It was subsequently increased by the addition of some of the regiments of three years' men which constituted the next levy of the State. In the Army of Northeast Virginia, which was organized by General McDowell in July, 1861, for his intended forward movement and was commanded by him, General Runyon commanded the Fourth Division, which was composed of the New Jersey troops and troops from New York and Pennsylvania, and for his services rendered in that position, at the time of the first battle of Bull Run, he received special commendation from General McDowell for his zeal and efficiency in commanding the division "during the advance towards Manassas Junction ;" General McDowell adding that his efforts were of " great service to the army and the people." The value of his service was also recognized by President Lincoln, and in 1862, after the expiration of his term, he was honored by his State with the brevet rank of major-general, conferred on him pursuant to special resolution of the Legislature, for "efficient and meritorious services in the field." In the memorable passage of the Federal forces from Washington into Virginia, the troops under his command constructed the extensive fortification Fort Runyon, which was called by his name.

General Runyon has always lived in New Jersey. He is of Huguenot descent, and his family is one of the very oldest in the State, the ancestor, Vincent Rongneon, of Poictiers, France, having settled there over two hundred and twenty-five years ago. He is a graduate of Yale, of the same class with Chief-Justice Peters, of Maine, and he has been honored with the degree of LL.D., not only by that university, but by Rutgers College and Wesleyan University. He was admitted to the bar of New Jersey in 1846, and entered upon the practice of his profession in the city of Newark, where he has ever since resided. He has held many civil and military offices in the State. He has been city attorney, and city counsel and mayor of Newark; was appointed by the governor a member of a commission to revise and codify the militia laws of the State; was commissioned brigadier-general of militia in 1857; in 1860 was one of the Presidential electors, and in 1861 was appointed, as already appears, brigadier-general of the New Jersey Volunteers.

In 1863 the rifle companies of the State were organized into a brigade, and he was elected to command it, and did so accordingly; and when the National Guard of the State was organized he was appointed major-general commanding it, and he held that office until he was appointed chancellor of the State in 1873 - so that he held the offices of brigadier-general and major-general for sixteen years, and during the latter part of the time commanded the entire military force of the State. He was the first president of the Manufacturers' National Bank of Newark, and held his office until he became chancellor, when he resigned it. He held the high office of chancellor of New Jersey for the unprecedentedly long period of fourteen years - two terms of seven years each; one term by appointment of Governor Parker, and the other by appointment of Governor McClellan. As chancellor he was the head of the judiciary of the State, and was not only the Court of Chancery, but was president of the Court of Errors and Appeals in the last resort in all causes; was judge of the Prerogative Court, the highest court of probate, and a member of the Court of Pardons. At the close of his service as chancellor he returned to the practice of his profession, in which he is still engaged.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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