Chronology of the Life of Rensselaer William Foote

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Arbor Hill. Delhi, New York. Homestead of Ebenezer Foote and family.
Foote family signet ring, impression.

Childhood and Family of William Rensselaer Foote


  • 12 November, Born Delhi New York,[?] to Charles Augustus Foote and Maria (Margaret) (Baldwin) Foote. Charles A. Foote was a congressman from New York in the Eighteenth Congress (March 4, 1823–March 3, 1825); he died 1828 and is buried in the Foote family plot, Arbor Hill, home of his grandfather, Ebenezer.
  • Rensselaer orphaned at age 13. The middle child, he has five siblings, ranging in age from 18 to 4 years old.
  • Indentured, to be a printer "while a boy."


  • 23 April, 1830: Harriet Bryan (Aunt) made guardian of Catherine B. Foote, Charles Foote, Frances Foote, James Bruen Foote, and Rensselaer W. Foote. County of Delaware Surrogate Court and Ebenezer Foote Papers, Box 12 Folder 7; Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
“In the Matter of James B. Foote, a minor child under the age of 14.” She is also made guardian of Catherine B, under 14, Charles, under 14, "Renseller W" over 14, Frances over the age of 14, (one duplicate, "Rensselaer") attested: Robert North, Surrogate. duplicate copies.
  • 27 April, 1830: James Bruen made guardian of Rensselaer Foote, Jesse Baldwin, and Jesse Baldwin jr. witnesses, recorded Essex, New Jersey, 2793-2781.

1833, Military Career

  • 10 November: Enters the 6th infantry, [brother Charles obit of RWF] Letter from A. Vanderpoel to Van Buren, 10 Nov. 1832 recommending RWF for West Point]

West Point


  • 1 September: Enters United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. In the same class as Winfield Scott Hancock, Abermarle Cady, Lewis Armistead, "Gen Todd", and P.T.G. Beauregard.


  • 1 June: Dismissed from West Point, for "deficiencies in of studies" Special Collections, USMA. "He failed in one subject in graduating from West Point, so had to be appointed to the army, at that time. I do not know what the rules are now." —Kitty Foote, family historian.
  • December: Second Seminole begins.


  • [Or before] Travels to "West Indies".
  • 31 May, 1836: New York City.



  • Foote is listed as a "Non-graduate" class of '38
  • Appointed second lieutenant, U.S. 6th Infantry.
  • December, at Fort Brooke, Tampa, Florida.

Florida and the Seminole Wars

A Seminole village, prior to the war.


1840, From New York to Florida

  • Returns North at some point. First week of December, visits friends in Philadelphia.
  • Experiences ill health; living in, or visiting New York City. Leaves for Florida 16 December.
  • 25 December: Arrives from New York and begins Journal in Pilatka Florida.
  • 28 December: March to Fort Holmes, Florida.
  • 30 December: Arrives Fort Russell. [there are 3 fort Russells in Florida: Fort Russell (3) - A Seminole War Fort in Marion County, Florida. Fort Russell (4) - A Seminole War Fort in Dade County, Florida. Fort Russell (5) - A Seminole War Fort in Alachua County, Florida. Leaves for Fort King.


  • 1 January: "Left Fort King for Fort Clinch, distant 45 miles."
  • January 2nd: Arrives Fort Clinch.
  • 4 January: "Left for Annattectiga Hammock, in company with Maj. Hoffman,—distance upwards of 20 miles."
  • 12–17 February: On horseback around Tampa, Florida.
  • 13 February: Tampa.
  • 25 February or before: At "Annutteeliga", Annutteliga Hammock.
  • June: Fort Harrison, letter sent to.
  • 14 July: At Fort Harrison, Florida, Regimental Headquarters.
  • 13 September: Tampa Bay, Florida.


The Western Territories

The Plains Indians, as the U.S. government intended them to be "removed," into nice, neat rectangles.


  • 14 August: Second Seminole War ends.
  • 9 September: Fort Towson.
  • 18 September: Fort Smith.
  • 22 September: Fort Gibson, Arkansas.





  • April, Mexican War begins. Rensselaer Foote is stationed in Arkansas.



  • February, Mexican War ends.


  • Jefferson Barracks and Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.


  • Fort Kearny.
  • Sunday, July 28, 1850, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, reports that two officers from Fort Kearny will be tried for court martial, 1st Lieut R.W. Foote and 3d Lieut J.C. Davis, both of the 6th Infantry, for disobedience.


  • 17 September: Present at the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty between United States treaty commissioners and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations.
  • 30 September: Delhi, New York.
  • October: Fort Leavenworth.



  • 9 June: made Captain US Second Infantry. Visits Delhi, drops off box of papers, etc at Arbor Hill.
  • 13 February: Boston Massachusetts.
  • 7 – 27 June: Boston.
  • 9 June: Captain, U.S. Second Infantry?
  • 12 December: Fort Ridgely, Minnesota





  • Fort Yuma, Arizona Territory.
  • 27 August: New York City.


19 November: 45 years old, in California.

The Civil War/War Between the States

Road to Richmond, during the Peninsular Campaign.


  • 8 August: Leaves Fort Yuma on sixty days sick leave. Listed as present at San Diego, "since August 8th, '61" San Diego Barracks. U.S. Returns from Military Posts.
  • 31 August: Leaves San Francisco, fearing his "health for active service is entirely ruined."
  • 23 September: Arrives New York City, on sick leave.
  • October: Rejoins his regiment, which has arrived in New York City, prior to being transferred to Virginia and McClellan's Army of the Potomac.


  • 22 January: Barrytown, Dutchess county, New York.
  • 2 March: New York City.
  • 6 March: Washington, D.C.
  • 2 June: Camp Lovell, "about 8 miles from Richmond, Va."
  • 26 June, Died, Battle of Gaines' Mill, Virginia. Buried in a mass grave on the battlefield. Memorial gravestone placed at Woodlawn cemetery, Delhi, New York.
  • July: Charles A. Foote attempts to recover his brother Rensselaer's body, unsuccessfully.
  • Obituaries
Telegram informing his family of the likely death of Rensselaer Foote, 1862

1876, Post Mortem

  • Memorial decorated in Woodlawn cemetery, along with other soldiers graves, Delhi, New York.
  • His sister, Kate and his niece, Katherine Adelia Foote retain his trunk, some personal belongings and military belt, hat, epaulets, etc., eventually leaving them with Kate and Rensselaer's grand-nephew, Maynard Ford, of Fitchburg Massachusetts. After Maynard's death the trunk, and its papers, is given to Maynard's grandson, David Ford and the Main Street Museum where research commences into Rensselaer's life and, particularly his Journal.

Bibliography of Foote Family Sources Provenance

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