Henry Bell Van Rensselaer was a military man, who with a rather modest amount of military service, and experience, was able to reach the rank of brigadier general in the Union Army. Van Rensselaer graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1831. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant of the Fifth Regiment, United States Infantry on July 1, 1831. He resigned from the military less than a year later on January 27, 1832. There is little explanation or knowledge of why he resigned.
Van Rensselaer then went into farming, or rather agricultural pursuits, near Ogdensburg, in northern New York, near the Canadian border. He was later also involved in mining enterprises. As a Van Rensselaer, he probably also was heavily involved in the administration of the remnants of the Van Rensselaer estate.
Van Rensselaer entered politics in 1840, when he was elected to the U. S. Congress as a Whig. He was sworn in on March 4, 1841 and served in the Twenty Seventh Congress until March 3, 1843.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Van Rensselaer re-entered the military service with the rank of brigadier general in the Union Army. He was appointed chief of staff under General Winfield Scott, and served as inspector general with the rank of colonel from 1862 until his untimely death on March 24, 1864. He was then only 54 years old. His death occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was interred in the Grace Episcopal Church Yard, Jamaica, Long Island, New York.
Henry Bell Van Rensselaer’s father was Stephen van Rensselaer and his mother was Margaret Schuyler. Henry Bell Van Rensselaer’s father, Stephen Van Rensselaer was one of the last “patroons” of Van Rensselaerswijck, and also the general, who commanded the American Army during the battle with the British, on the Niagara Frontier during the War of 1812.
The father, Stephen Van Rensselaer III, was also the founder and early financial supporter, of what is now the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Rensselaer, New York. Henry Bell Van Rensselaer was married to Elizabeth Ray King on August 22, 1833. The couple had five children, named Euphemia, Elizabeth, John King, Katherine and Henry. The Henry Bell Van Rensselaer’s were also the great grandparents of Jane Wyatt and Floyd Crosby.
See the appendix at the end of the bio profile for Kiliaen Van Rensselaer [1595-1644] to understand how the ten Rensselaers are related.
Van Rensselaer, Henry Bell [1810-1864], http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=V000052
Henry Van Rensselaer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Van_Rensselaer
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