Captain Andrew J. McNett

ANDREW JACKSON MCNETT, BRIG. GEN. was born February 3, 1822 in Henderson, Jefferson Co., New York, and died March 5, 1895 in Belmont, Allegany Co., New York. He married ABBY CLARK December 7, 1847 in Belleville, New York, daughter of HONORARY CALVIN CLARK. She was born c. 1824.

Historical Register & Dictionary of the U.S. Army, 1789-1903; vol. 1, pg. 679, (Commissioned Officers):

Andrew James McNett  - Born New York; Appointed New York Captain 93 New York infantry, Oct. 1861 - honorable mustered out June 12, 1863. Lieutenant Colonel 141 New York infantry Feb. 13, 1864. Brevet Brigade General Vols. 28 July 1866 - for distinguished service in the battles of Resaca Dallas Culp's Farm and Peach Tree Creek, Georgia; honorable mustered out June 8, 1865; Captain 44 Infantry July 28, 1866; unassigned May 27, 1869; retired with rank of Colonel Dec. 15, 1870; Brevet Major March 2, 1867 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Resaca, Georgia and Lt. Colonel Mar. 2, 1867 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Peach Tree Creek, Georgia. Died March 8, 1895.

Obituary of Colonel Andrew J. McNett, unknown newspaper

A Noted Soldier Buried
Funeral Services of Colonel Andrew J. McNett, of Belmont
His Brilliant Record
Served with Sherman Through the Campaign
Against Atlanta, was of High Rank and Received Many Marks of Distinction

Colonel Andrew J. McNett, who died at his home, in Belmont, last Friday, was buried day before yesterday. Colonel McNett was born in Henderson, NY, in 1822. His father was Captain Samuel McNett, who, in charge of a company of militia in war of 1812, defended Sackett's Harbor against the British attack, and for his deed was given a sword by General Jacob Brown, awarded the thanks of congress, and placed in charge of the light house and defenses of Lake Ontario.

Colonel McNett began the practice of law in Buffalo in 1848, and during his residence in that city held several offices, including that of city attorney. He was twice elected to the legislature. He removed to Belmont in 1859, and in October, 1861, raised a company of volunteers and joined the Ninety-Third New York Infantry, serving as captain through the peninsular campaign and with the Army of the Potomac till the fall of 1863, when he was promoted to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the One Hundred and Forty-First Infantry and transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, under General Sherman. He served with him through the entire campaign against Atlanta, until the battle of Peach Tree Creek, July 20, 1864, he lost his right arm as the result of a wound. The following September he reported for duty, having been promoted to the rank of colonel, and was in the battle at Nashville. He was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers for distinguished services. He was appointed captain in the regular army July 28, 1866, and served three years as judge advocate in Washington on the general staff. He was then stationed at Petersburg, Va., as military commissioner of seven counties of that state in the reconstruction work. Later he was transferred to Suffolk, in command of three divisions of the state and as mayor of Suffolk. He was retired with the rank of colonel in December, 1870. 

He leaves a wife, a daughter, Mrs. James E. Norton, of Rutherford, NJ., and two sons, Dr. James H. McNett of Hornellsville and Dr. George C. McNett of Bath.

(Retyped from an unidentified newspaper story received Nov. 1988 from Joyce McNett by William M. McNett 20 March 1997.)
"These were found in family Bible dated 1880. These all are copies of original newspapers. I am going . . . . . . . . . the papers." Joyce McNett, Nov. 1988

- Quoted from entry

Captain McNett was supposed to become Major of the 76th New York, but did not actually do so. He does not appear in the official Adjutant General's Report with this regiment because of the "Green-McNett Incident" while the Regiment was still in camp in Cortland, before they departed for Albany. This incident is described in the Regimental History.

From the Regimental History of the Seventy-Sixth New York by A.P. Smith (1867), pages 23-31

At this time, (December sixth [1861]), an incident occurred which entirely changed the prospects of the Regiment, and blighted the hopes of its friends for its complete and harmonious organization and equipment, before leaving the county.

Mr. Green, who had now become Colonel of the Regiment, had made an arrangement with Mr. Andrew J. McNett, of Allegany county, by which McNett, who had seventy men or thereabouts, was to recruit his company to the maximum strength and join the Seventy-sixth Regiment as Captain, and on the performance of certain conditions, McNett was to be made Major of the Regiment. Captain McNett joined the Regiment sometime in October with about seventy men.

Colonel Green assisted in raising the number to upwards of ninety, by adding to the company certain men who had been brought by H. W. Pierce, of Dundee, Yates county. These men—about twenty-five in all, fifteen or twenty of whom were put into Captain McNett's company—were brought by Mr. Pierce, who was to be Captain; but failing to procure the required number, he was made Lieutenant in Captain Grover's company, and his men distributed between Captain Grover's and Captain McNett's companies. 

The latter part of November, Captain McNett procured a leave of absence to go to Syracuse to purchase his uniform, and to Allegany county to procure more men. On his return, a few days after this, Colonel Green charged him with having used his leave of absence to go to Albany, to stir up strife, in violation of the understanding when he received it, and ordered him to give up the paper as fraudulently obtained. This Captain McNett refused to do. Colonel Green then ordered it taken from McNett by Captain Grover. McNett made a formal resistance, but unbuttoned his coat and Captain Grover took the document from McNett's pocket. Colonel Green then ordered Captain McNett in close arrest in the officers' quarters, with orders that he be permitted to communicate with no one, except by permission from the commandant of the post. This created some feeling in Captain McNett's company, and gave rise to much angry discussion in camp.

On the sixth of December, Colonel Green had been to Captain McNett's company, to adjust some difficulty, and on his return, when riding past the officers' quarters, saw Captain
McNett standing in the door-way. Colonel Green claims the Captain was outside the door, shaking hands with his men, in violation of orders. Captain McNett claims he was inside the door, though near it, where he had resorted to get fresh air. We give both versions, as this history is not written with the view of vindicating or condemning either party, and this incident is only mentioned as one that had something of a controlling influence upon the subsequent history of the Regiment.

As Captain McNett was thus standing in or near the door, Colonel Green rode up and the following dialogue, in substance, took place:

Col. Green.—The prisoner should not leave his quarters. Retire to your quarters.
Capt. McNett.—-I shall not, sir.
Col. Green.—Do you refuse to obey my orders, sir?
Capt. McNett.—I do, such orders.
Col. Green.—(Dismounting and drawing a small Smith & Wesson pistol), Will you retire to your quarters ?
Capt. McNett.—I will not, sir !

Colonel Green, at this point, fired over the head of the Captain, the ball lodging in the root of the quarters.

Col. Green.—Retire to your quarters, sir !
Capt. McNett.—(Straightening up), I will not, sir ! Shoot me if you dare !

The Colonel then lowered the pistol and tired, the ball taking effect in the Captain's chin, and lodging in his neck. McNett immediately turned around and sat down in a chair. The
Surgeon of the post, Dr. J. C. Nelson, was called, and the wound dressed.

This very naturally created great excitement in camp and the vicinity. Colonel Green had, by his patriotic course, endeared himself to many of the loyal people. Captain McNett was not without friends, who gathered around him, and, in the discussion that followed this affair, excitement ran high. The Governor was informed of the affair, and sent General James Wood to Cortland to ascertain the facts, and in the meantime to take command of the Regiment. General Wood arrived December ninth, and on the evening of that day, met the officers of the Regiment, when a full interchange of opinion was had. The officers were nearly or quite unanimous in approval of the course taken by Colonel Green, and so expressed themselves. The next day the General visited the camp and possessed himself of all the material facts connected with the history of the Regiment. On the thirteenth of December, General Wood again met the officers at the house of Colonel Green, when the matter was again fully canvassed. The next day Colonel Green was arrested on a criminal warrant, for the shooting, and gave bail before the County Judge for his appearance at the Oyer and Terminer, to be held in January following, to answer an indictment to be found against him for an assault with intent to kill.*

After giving bail, on the fourteenth Colonel Green and General Wood set out for Albany to confer with the Governor. On the sixteenth orders were telegraphed from Albany 'to be in readiness to proceed (by rail) to Albany on the following day. Colonel Green and General "Wood returned, and on Wednesday, the eighteenth day of December, 1861, we took a tearful leave of the friends, with whose welfare and very life ours was so firmly woven, and entered the cars for Albany.

[27] Colonel Green had requested the Governor to convene a Court of Inquiry in his case, which was done, and on the twenty-first of December the hearing commenced. The Court was presided over by lieutenant-Colonel LaFayette Bingham. Judge-Advocate-General Anthon conducted the prosecution, and Clark B. Cochrane and A. P. Smith the defense. The investigation consumed three days, when the findings of the Court were submitted to the Governor. On the twenty-eighth of December the Governor announced the decision by placing Colonel Green in command, of the Regiment. This announcement was received with many cheers by the officers and men, and the prospects of the Regiment seemed to brighten.

[31] At the time the Cortland branch of the Seventy-sixth Regiment reached Albany, it numbered about eight hundred men. The Governor considered it improper that Colonel Green and Captain McNctt should lunger be associated as officers of the
same regiment, and of the correctness of that conclusion no one acquainted with the tacts and the men could have any doubt. They are both positive men, of unyielding will, and diametrically opposed on almost every question that would be likely to arise. Looking at the war, its causes, its objects, and the manner in which it should be prosecuted, from entirely different and opposite stand-points, it would have been as difficult to harmonize their views, and bring them to act together, especially after what had already transpired, as it would be to unite oil and water. The Governor, therefore, preserved the organization of the Seventy-sixth Regiment,with Colonel Green as its commander, and transferred McNett and his company to the Ninety-third Regiment New York Volunteers, then stationed at Albany, and commanded by Colonel Crocker.

* An indictment was found for said Offense at said Court, and Colonel Green gave bail for his appearance at the next Court. Since writing the above, he has been tried (at the Cortland Oyer and Terminer, held by Judge Boardman in April, 1866), and after a fair trial for five days, the Jury, on the morning of the sixth day, reported their inability to agree. They were thereupon discharged and a nolle prosequi entered upon the indictment. The case was very fully and ably tried on both sides, upon the Question of the legal right of Colonel Green to shoot the Captain, under the circumstances. Judge Boardman laid down the law with great clearness and impartiality, deciding that willful and persistent disobedience of orders, in the presence of enlisted men, is mutiny ; that in cases of mutiny, the amount and kind of force necessary to suppress it is in the discretion of the superior officer, that this camp was at that time under military authority, and this shooting was to be judged by military law.

For more discussion of the Green - McNett affair, see our Early History of the 76th NY page

Apparently, McNett's reception when he was appointed Lt. Col. of the 141st NY was not entirely welcoming:

From the 141st N. Y. V.
At a meeting of the commissioned officers of the 141st Regiment of N. Y. Vols. held on Monday evening, Jan. 11th, 1864, pursuant to a call made on the previous afternoon:

On motion, and by a unanimous vote, Col. W. K. Logie was called to the chair, and Lieut.S. F. Griffith was duly elected Secretary. After a few appropriate remarks, made by the Colonel, for the honor confered [sic] upon him, Lieutenant J. M. McMillan stated that the object of this assembling was to express to his Excellency, Horatio Seymour Governor of the State of New York, the grievance felt by the officers of the 141st Regt. N. Y. S. V. at the appointment of one Andrew McNett, a man unknown to the entire Regiment, to the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of said Regiment; and moved that a committee of three be appointed to embody these grievances in due form, and that, when adopted, the same be transmitted to his Excellency for his consideration.

The Motion was carried.
The Chairman then appointed Captain Wm. Merril and Lt. J. McMillan, and J. Strowbridge, as such Committee, with instructions to make their report on the succeeding evening.

JANUARY, 12th, 1864.
The officers met at 7 1/2 P. M. pursuant to adjournment, Col. Logie in the Chair.
The report of the Committee was submitted, and after consideration the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

Whereas, we the Commissioned Officers of the 141st Regt. N. Y. Vols. have learned that his Excellency, Horatio Seymour, Governor of the State of New York, has Commissioned one Andrew J. McNett, a man in no way identified with the Regiment, to be Lt.-Colonel, to fill the vacancy existing in the
Regiment, therefore, be it
Resolved, That we consider the policy of filling vacancies with men outside the Regiment, who have never shared its hardships, known nothing of its desires, and cannot be presumed to care for its interests, highly injurious to the service; that it takes from officers and men that great incentive to zeal and efficiency—the hope of promotion; and that the interest and well being of our Regiment demand that we express (with all due deference to the  judgement [sic] and action of His Excellency) our sense of grievance by, and disapproval of the act.
Resolved, That with a late lamented statesman, we are of opinion that it is
impolitic and unwise to force even a good thing on people or organizations, and we feel it a duty at all times, and unber [sic] all circumstances, to resist, by every honorable means, the introduction of strangers into our Regiment as officers, unless the material in the Regiment be pronounced incompetent by superior commanding officers.
Resolved, That, in our opinion the man who sacrifices the comforts of home, and society of friends to fight for the honor of his country, is entitled by every rule of right and justice, to the reward of regular promotion to vacancies occasioned by the casualties of the service; that any other course pursued, destroys the spirit of the soldier, the individuality of the Regiment, and leaves no incentive to action but his obligation to a country that disregards his rights and ignores his services.
Resolved, That, we deem a man who will accept a position in a Regiment then engaged in deadly conflict with the enemies of his country, knowing that lie is usurping the place and sacrificing the rights of officers thus engaged unworthy to lead a body of brave men and unfit for generous society.
Resolved, That a copy of these Resolutions, embodying the grounds of our grievances be submitted to His Excellency, confidently believing that he will hear and redress the same; also a copy of these resolutions be sent to the different papers of the several Counties comprising the districts in which the Regiment was organized.
The meeting then adjourned.
Col. Com'd'g 141st Regt. Ch'm'n.

LOOKOUT VALLEY, Tenn., Jan. 8, 1864.
To His Excellency, Horatio Seymour, Governor of the State of New York:
SIR:—We, the undersigned, commissioned Officers of the 141st Reg't, N. Y. Vols., hearing, with pain and regret, that one, Andrew J. McNett, is appointed Lt.-Colonel of our Regiment, and, believing that your Excellency, having the welfare and efficiency of the Regiment in view, will respect its wishes, do hereby petition your Excellency to revoke the commission of said Lt.-Colonel McNett, and appoint, in his place, Maj. Charles W. Clauharty, of the 141st Reg't, N. Y. Vols.:
Co. A.—William T. Ross, Captain; John Strowbridge, 1st Lieut.; Charles F. Babbitt, 2d Lieut.
Co. B.—Andrew J. Compton, Capt.; P. C. Mitchell, 2d Lieut.
Co. C.—E. G. Baldwin, Capt.; James McMillen, 1st Lieut.
Co. D —William Merrill, Captain.
Co. E.—J. G. Townsend, Capt.; John Eccles, 2d Lieut.
Co. F.—George E. Gray, 1st Lieut.; Fred. C. Willor, 2d Lieut.
Co. G.—Charles H. Rowley, 2d Lieut.
Co. H.—S. F. Griffeth, Capt.; J. W. Smith, 1st Lieut.; D. W. Langley, 2d Lieut.
Co. I.—Robert M. McDowell, Capt.; George Tubbs, 1st Lieut.
Co. K.—Eugene Egbert, 1st Lieut., commanding Co.; George W. Rogers, 2d Lieut.
I certify that the above are all the Commissioned Officers at present with the Regiment,
Adj't of 141st N. Y. V.

Letter from Col. W. E. Logie, 141st Regt.
N. Y. V., to Gov. Seymour.
January 18, 1864.
Hon. Horatio Seymour, Governor of New York:
YOUR EXELLENCY:—I take the liberty to trespass briefly on your time to call your attention to a matter deeply concerning the welfare of this regiment, having confidence that it is your Excellency's desire to protect the rights and promots [sic] the interests of both officers and soldiers from our State.
I received notice a day or two since, from the Adjutant General of the State, that one A. J. McNett has been commissioned Lieut.-Colonel of this regiment, vice E. L. Patrick, dismissed.—From the date of the notice, I perceive that the commission was issued before it was even known here that any vacancy existed: (for, at that time the order dismissing Lieut.-Col. Patrick had not been received here.) Probably the fact that that order was published by the War Department Oct. 19th, 1866, and that from that time up to the date of the appointment of Mr. McNett. (Dec. 14th, 1863,) nothing being heard from the regiment on the subject, may have led your Excellency to believe that the officers were indifferent as to who should fill the vacancy.
But indeed no such indifference existed. On this point the officers of the regiment have always been unanimously agreed—namely: in being opposed to the appointment of a stranger to fill any vacancy in it, so long as there should be officers in the regiment deemed competent by their superiors, to fill the vacancies; and certainly there are in the regiment very many officers competent in every respect to fill this vacancy, and deserving of promotion by faithful performance of just duties—among them none more so than the present Major.
I submit, your Excellency, with all due respect, that to overlook all the officers of the regiment and to appoint a person over them in no way identified with the history of the organization, is to take away that great incentive to zealous performance of duty—the hope of promotion, and cannot but compel the feeling on our part that our services in behalf of our country, and sacrifices made and hardships endured in her defence, are not appreciated as we think they deserve to be.
We cannot bring ourselves to think it "meet to take the children's bread to cast it to dogs."
With confidence then in your Excellency's sense of justice and desire to promote the welfare and care for the interests of all serving from the Empire State, I appeal to you in behalf of my subordinate officers, that their claims may not be set aside, nor their services go unrewarded. I trust I may not be deemed too bold in protesting against the introduction of any stranger into the regiment as an officer, and in re­questing your Excellency to reconsid­er the matter, now that the case is pre­sented, and (as Mr. McNett has not yet been mustered) that your Excellen­cy will revoke the commission issued to him and promote Major Charles W. Clauharty to be Lieut.-Colonel of the regiment.
Very Respectfully
Your Ob't Servant,                                   W. K. LOGIE,
Col. Com'd'g 141st regt. N. Y. V.

McNett remained in the position, despite the protests. Six months later, in action with the regiment at Peach Tree Creek, he was wounded and lost his right arm:

July 20th, 10 o'clock P. M., 1864.
Editor Elmira Gazette:—A severe engagement took place to-day on Peach Tree Creek, four and a half miles north west from Atlanta, the enemy making the attack. The battle commenced at two o'clock P. M., and lasted until sunset. The loss of the 20th Corps killed and wounded, is estimated at 1,200. The 141st N. Y. suffered severely, being on the right and exposed to a severe flank or enfilading fire.
Up to ten o'clock this night I am unable to send you a list of the casualties. The loss of officers so far as I am able to learn is as follows: Col. Logie and Lieut. Warren, killed. Lieut. Col. McNett wounded severely in side and right arm amputated; Maj. Clauharty shot through the thigh; Capt. Townsend wounded in the side; Lieut. Babbett, arm, amputated; Lieut. Wilcox, hand, slightly; Adj. Hazard shot through both legs, above the knee.
The wounded are all being well cared for. The per centage killed and wounded of noncommissioned officers and privates is heavy.
I learn that the 107th N. Y. has also suffered, but not as much as the 141st N. Y.; a number of officers are killed and wounded; hope that some of the reports are untrue, and lest I should create unhappy feelings among friends   at home, withhold names. I learn, however, from a reliable source, that Major Lathrop Baldwin is severely wounded in the head.—Capt. E. G. Baldwin is commanding the 141st regiment. 
We expect the fight will be renewed to-morrow. Our corps behaved splendidly, led on by the gallant Hooker, repulsed the enemy at every point. Yours in haste,
Chief Engineer 20th Corps.

Despite his wound and the amputation, McNett was promoted to Colonel and rejoined the regiment:

Lieut. Col. McNett was promoted to be Colonel, Major C. W. Clauherty to be Lieut. Colonel, Captain Baldwin t o be Major, and Adjutant Hazzard to a captaincy, Lieut. Geo. B. Gray to be adjutant.
Soon after the famous march to Savannah, through Georgia, began. Then Sherman's resistless legions swept northward through the Carolinas, toward Virginia, constantly engaged in skirmishing with the enemy, but taking part in no general engagements until Bentonville was reached. Here, amid swamps, and under every discouragement, our brave boys gained their last great battle. During the Carolina march the Regiment was commanded in the abcence [sic] of Col. McNett on account of his wound, on detached duty successively by the field officers present and Captain Merrell. Col. McNett rejoined his Regiment at Raleigh, North Carolina.

- from the 141st NY page on the NY State Dept. of Military Affairs website

McNett built a residence in Belmont, NY, now called Belmont Grange #1243. It was purchased from his descendents in 1923 by the Odd Fellows, and since 1937 has been owned by the Grange. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

In December, 2009, CWRT member Tom Canfield bought a carte de visite (CdV) which had what appeared to be "Wm McNutt 76 NY Vol" on the back:

There was no "McNutt" in the 76th - but, of course, there was Captain McNett, and the family appears to have used McNett, McNutt, McNitt and even McNaught. The man is clearly an officer - he appears to be wearing Captain's bars - and it seems very likely that this is a picture of Andrew McNett.

Tom notes, "McNett could have easily been misheard of carried a different pronunciation depending how the information carried on the waves. Even his biographies and reports vary in his name used. From what I have seen so far, he was called by several different names depending on how well the person knew him. McNett had a pretty cool career ending up with Sherman. I tried to find a photo, found an archive with a later-years photo, but of course it was only a college manuscript reference. I did however find the coolest item for was on some foreign (Spanish, I think) ebay site. Turns out it was a collection of letters from a 76th NY guy in a wooden box. One of the letters describes in detail the incident with McNett as he was there and saw it. Was a neat collection of letters, a hat badge, CDV and the box. Some of the letters were cool, but not for the asking price of $5000+. McNett was transferred to guess where...yup to Albany (where this photo was taken) after the incident. However, he came from that region anyway and being there was no indication of wound on his cheek or neck, probably was pre incident if it is him. I am going keep digging and see what I find. May not be him, but enough items to raise interest."

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- last updated January 1, 2010