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Francis Perry Peirpoint (February 23, 1840-January 7, 1869) was West Virginia’s first Adjutant General. He was born in Fairmont, Marion County, Western Virginia, to Zackquill M. Peirpoint, a tanner by trade, and Martha (Vandevoort) Peirpoint. The 1850 federal census lists Francis living in Ritchie County with his parents, and with siblings William, Mary, Louisa, John, and Andrew. Young Peirpoint attended local schools, and later Fairmont Academy. In 1860, the federal census listed Peirpoint’s occupation as “cadet.” Prior to the war he studied law and was admitted to the bar.

In 1862, Peirpoint assisted in recruiting the 12th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry in Wheeling. On August 7, he was commissioned a first lieutenant and adjutant in the regiment. A few weeks later, on August 25, 1862, he was promoted to rank of major. On June 16, 1863, Peirpoint resigned his commission, and was appointed by Arthur I. Boreman, West Virginia’s first governor, as the fledgling state’s first adjutant general. Peirpoint is sometimes confused with his uncle, Francis H. Pierpont, considered the Father of West Virginia and the first and only Governor of the Restored State of Virginia.

As West Virginia’s first adjutant general, Peirpoint was the state’s chief military officer. He coordinated the state’s military affairs, carried out the governor’s military policies, and commanded and administered the state’s Union militia forces. Through his capacity as adjutant general, he also chronicled the state’s military involvement in the Civil War, thereby becoming West Virginia’s first de facto military historian. Under his guidance, West Virginia’s first three annual adjutant general reports were published for 1863, 1864, and 1865. These annual reports not only documented the state’s contributions, but also subsequently assisted veterans who utilized them to verify military service for pension applications. The annual reports also laid the historiographical foundation that future historians used to examine the state’s Civil War history. As part of his duties, in August 1865, Adjutant General Peirpoint traveled to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and met with disaffected soldiers from the Sixth West Virginia Veteran Volunteer Cavalry that had mutinied at the post the previous month.

Peirpoint resigned as the state’s adjutant general on September 10, 1866. In January 1867, State Quartermaster, George W. Brown, succeeded Peirpoint as Adjutant General, thereby combining the two offices. Afterwards, Peirpoint attended law school at Harvard, and in 1867 received his law degree. He returned to Harrisville where he practiced law until he contracted tuberculosis. Peirpoint died on January 7, 1869, in New Orleans while enroute to Cuba. Colonel Jacob Hornbrook, a close friend who accompanied Peirpoint on the trip, described his gradual decline:

After his arrival in this city [New Orleans] he seemed better and enjoyed several rides around the city, with but little fatigue, and we thought he would soon be strong enough to pursue the journey to Florida where we hoped he would gather renewed health and strength.

But on December 31st. he began to fail and the physician gave us no hopes of his ultimate recovery. He gradually grew weaker, but God spared him till his Father and Brother arrived on Wednesday afternoon, but then after a quiet sleep of two hours at half past three o’clock the morning of Thursday January 7th, 1869, the brave true spirit of Francis P. Peirpoint was taken home to God. (Wheeling Intelligencer, January 13, 1869, p. 2).

This Article was written by Glenn Longacre

Last Revised on February 16, 2021


Charles H. Ambler. Francis H. Pierpont: Union War Governor and Father of West Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937.

Virgil A. Lewis. Third Biennial Report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West Virginia. Charleston: The News-Mail Company, 1911.

Minnie Kendall Lowther. History of Ritchie County with Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers and their Ancestors, and with interesting Reminiscences of Revolutionary and Indian Times. Wheeling: Wheeling News Litho. Company, 1911.

Cite This Article

Longacre, Glenn "Adjutant General Francis P. Peirpoint ." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 February 2021. Web. 14 April 2024.


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