Rensselaer William Foote Memorial

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Gravestone, memorial, in Delhi, New York's Woodland Cemetery for Rensselaer Foote

Artifacts in the Collection

  • Materials that were part of the uniforms worn by R.W. Foote consist of a black felt hat, epaulets, a belt and a velvet cadet's cap. These were in two small trunks, mentioned in his last letter to his sister, to be shipped to Delhi, New York.
  • Journal and Letters. The Journal of Rensselaer William Foote was written, mainly in central Florida at various U. S. Army encampments, in 1839-42 when Foote was a young man, in his 20s. He was a Captain, 6th Infantry U.S. Army, in the Seminole Wars. Read the Journal here...
  • The letters of R.W. Foote represent a substantial collection full of detail of army life in the middle of the 19th century. Spanning the entire United States, they are written both to Foote, and from him, in New York City, Florida, Oklahoma and the "Western Territories" and California.

Biography

Rensellaer William Foote, spent his life as a soldier, battling ill health and living in a succession of army outposts built during warfare with various Native American nations, from Florida to present-day Oklahoma to California. A common theme in his letters is his expressed wish to have a small, quite cabin to live in. He also laments, later in his career, that he is not likely to be promoted to the rank of Major. In his last battle however, the Major he was serving under as Captain was killed by Confederate fire and Foote was therefor a Major, for a few hours, until he himself was killed. His body was buried in a mass grave, and the U.S. Army, under McClellan retreated to the James River. Rensselaer spent most of his life in the employ of—as a member of—the United States Military, as a Federal Infantryman, or U.S. "Regular." His first tour of duty took him to Florida and the Seminole wars in 1839. He kept a journal, created a small dictionary of Muscogee (Creek) words, wrote letters home, established friendships with fellow officers, fulfilled his duties, fell ill at various times and traveled from Florida to New York and back, and from the Missouri River forts to the West Coast and back to Civil War, where he died in the Peninsular Campaign.

Chronology of the Life of Rensselaer William Foote

Genealogy

Charles Augustus Foote born 1785 to Ebenezer Foote and Jerusha Purdy. He died at Delhi, N. Y. 1828 and is buried “in the private burying ground at “Arbor Hill.” He married 1808, Maria Baldwin, daughter of Jesse Baldwin and Margaretta de Hart of New York City, or Newark, New Jersey.
Their children and genealogy can be found here.

R.W. Foote and the theaters of his Military Service

Rensselaer Foote's military service was as a member of the United States 6th Infantry

Bibliography of Foote Family Sources