Gustavus Adolphus DeRussy was born in Brooklyn, New York, November 3, 1818 into a military family of long tradition. His father, Brevet Brigadier General Rene E. DeRussy served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, going on to become the superintendant of West Point. His uncle, Lewis DeRussy served as a Colonel in the Confederate Army, as well as in the War of 1812 and Mexican War. Two generations back, his grandfather was a midshipman in the Navy during the American Revolution. Gustavus married Frances Clitz, daughter of Captain John Clitz.
DeRussy's Military Career began with his attendance at West Point for three years until he was expelled for drinking in 1838. Nine years later he was commissioned directly into the army as second lieutenant of the 4th Artillery and his service in the Mexican War at the battles of Chapultepec, Churubusco, and Contreras won him the brevets of first lieutenant and captain. He served as a regimental quartermaster at Fort Monroe from 1848 to 1857.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, DeRussy was a full-rank captain in the Regular Army. He was highly commended by George B. McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign for his ability to stay under control during difficult circumstances (see image). During the same campaign he commanded the Artillery Reserve of Heintzelman's III Corps when he earned the brevets of major and lieutenant colonel for his conduct at Malvern Hill and Fair Oaks. DeRussy commanded the guns on Burnside's right at the battle of Fredericksburg and on March 17, 1863 entered volunteer service as colonel of the 4th New York Artillery. On May 23, 1863 he was commissioned Brigadier General of Volunteers and assigned to command the Defenses of Washington South of the Potomac where he remained until the end of the war.
In 1866 DeRussy returned to regular service as major of the 3rd Artillery. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1879 and colonel in 1882, when he retired that same year after an uneventful sixteen years in garrison. Upon retirement, he made his home in Detroit, Michigan where he lived until his death on May 29, 1891. DeRussy is buried in Detroit's historic Elmwood Cemetery along with 250 other veterans of the Civil War, including 4 full-ranked generals and a member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the regiment immortalized in the movie "Glory".
McClellan's acknowledgement of DeRussy
Fort DeRussy (Named after Gustavus A. DeRussy)
Rock Creek Park (Home to the Defenses around Washington D.C.)
United States Civil War Center (Practically any Civil War link on the Web)
Official War of the Rebellion Website (Images of every page of every volume of the Civil War's best source of information)
Created by Chris Brown, 1999