Babcock, Orville Elias, 1835-1884
Orville E. Babcock was born December 25, 1835 in Franklin, Vermont. He graduated from the
united States Military Academy at West point in 1861 and was commissioned an officer in the
United States Army Corps of Engineers. He served in Washington, DC and in the Pennisular
Campaign before joining the IX Corps in the Siege of Vicksburg, where he became introduced
to Ulysses S. Grant. After Vicksburg he went to the Great Lakes on medical leave to overcome
a bout with diarrhea. He later was sent to Knoxville, Tennessee and Chattanooga, and was
then called to Virginia to join Grant's staff as aide-de-camp. He remained with General Grant
throughout the war.
Babcock married Anna Eliza Campbell in Galena, Illinois in 1866 and in 1869, was appointed President Grant's private secretary. Babcock had significant influence over Grant and was one of the President's most trusted confidantes. In 1869, Grant sent Babcock to Santo Domingo to ascertain the desires of the Dominican government in joining the United States. His mission to Santo Domingo became one of the first in a number of scandals for Babcock. He was accused of conspiring with financial backers to support the annexation of Santo Domingo.
Babcock was also implicated in the St. Louis Whiskey Ring corruption scandal. Though guilty, Babcock assured President Grant of his innocence, leading Grant to testify in the criminal proceedings in Babcock's defense. In 1877, Babcock was named Inspector of Lighthouses by President Rutherford B. Hayes. He drowned off of Mosquito Inlet in June 1884.