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Waite, Carlos Adolphus (1797–1866)

Thomas W. Cutrer Biography Entry

Carlos Adolphus Waite, United States Army officer, the son of John and Esther (Babbit) Waite, was forn in New York on May 5, 1797. On January 28, 1820, he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Second United States Infantry. He was promoted to first lieutenant on May 1, 1828, and to captain on July 3, 1836. On July 7, 1838, he became assistant regimental quartermaster, a post he held until May 8, 1845. On February 16, 1847, he was promoted to major in the Eighth Infantry. Waite was assigned to Gen. Winfield Scott's army during the Mexican War and brevetted to lieutenant colonel on August 20, 1847, for "gallant and meritorious conduct" at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco. On September 8, 1847, he received a brevet promotion to colonel for his conduct at the battle of Molino del Rey. He was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant colonel of the Fifth Infantry on November 10, 1851. From March 10, 1851, through January 7, 1852, he commanded Fort Gates in Coryell County, and he served at a variety of posts on the Texas frontier through the 1850s. On June 5, 1860, he became colonel of the First Infantry.

On February 15, at the height of the secession crisis, Gen. David E. Twiggs, an advocate of the state's right to secede, was relieved of his command of the Department of Texas at his own request. Waite, the next senior officer in the department, was named his successor. He was a strong Unionist, however, and the Texas Committee on Public Safety reasoned that he would not surrender the federal property demanded of Twiggs. Waite's impending appointment to department command, therefore, precipitated Benjamin McCulloch's siege of federal troops in San Antonio on February 18, 1861, which culminated in Twiggs's surrender of all United States property in the state to Texas authorities. Ironically, Waite received his appointment as department commander on February 19, the day after Twiggs had turned over United States forts and heavy equipment and pledged to remove federal troops immediately by way of the coast. Waite remained in the U.S. Army until 1864 when he retired due to impaired health. On March 13, 1865, Waite was brevetted to brigadier general for "long and faithful service" in the army. He retired to Plattsburg, New York, where he died on May 7, 1866. He was buried in Riverside Cemetery.

Thomas W. Cutrer, Ben McCulloch and the Frontier Military Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993). Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). Lawrence T. Jones, Lens on the Texas Frontier (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2014). Joseph Luther, Camp Verde: Texas Frontier Defense (Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Waite, Carlos Adolphus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/waite-carlos-adolphus.

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