Thursday, January 1, 2015

Lt. Colonel William Piatt




William Piatt of New Jersey was the nephew of Captain William Piatt, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who died at the Battle of the Wabash in western Ohio during Little Turtle's War. He entered the Army as 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Infantry Regiment in 1799, during the Quasi-War with France. When the war scare passed and the regiment was disbanded, Piatt was retained in the 3rd Infantry.

By 1809 he had risen to Captain in the 2nd Infantry and served on Governor William Henry Harrison's staff as Acting Quartermaster General during the Tippecanoe Campaign in 1811. He served on Harrison's staff again during the 1812-13 campaign in the Northwest.

In March 1814 he was promoted to Major of the 34th Infantry, which was based at Plattsburgh under General Alexander Macomb, but he doesn't seem to have been with his regiment during the Battle of Plattsburgh. Instead, he served on Major General Andrew Jackson's staff as Quartermaster General. The staff appointment seems to have elevated the Major to brevet Colonel a bit early.

Despite serving in a "non-combat" role, Colonel Piatt played a role in the night battle of December 23, 1814, when General Jackson sent several columns of infantry and artillery to disrupt the British camp. In the chaos that ensued (night attacks invariably resulted in chaos), the British forces nearly captured the American guns, but for the intervention of Piatt and several other staff officers. Piatt was wounded in the fight and presumably sat out the rest of the Battle of New Orleans. For his service he was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel.

Shortly after the war, the existing regiments of the army were consolidated into seven Infantry Regiments, which created a game of musical chairs for the commissioned officers. More men from the Northern theatres were retained, and Piatt was one of the men disbanded in 1815. However, he returned to Army service as a paymaster in 1830 before dying in 1834.