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Rosser, General Thomas

By | Last Modified: January 26, 2018

General Thomas Lafayette Rosser was a confederate soldier who later was appointed head of Northern Pacific Railway’s Dakota Division responsible for building the railroad through Dakota Territory and eastern Montana. Bismarck’s Rosser Aveneue was named for him.

Rosser was a West Point graduate. Coincidentally, he was George Armstrong Custer’s roommate at the academy. The two remained long-time friends. Custer was commander of Fort Abraham Lincoln from 1873 until his infamous massacre in 1876.

After the Civil War, Rosser joined Northern Pacific Railway as a wood chopper. Within a week, he was appointed a foreman in charge of a gang of choppers. He eventually worked his way up to become chief of the Dakota Division.

In September 1871, Rosser lead a team of twenty-five engineers on an expedition to locate the railroad through western Dakota Territory and eastern Montana. Supporting the engineers were seven companies of infantry, twenty-two mounted Indian scouts, and seventy “teamsters” and Government employees.

Following completion of the Northern Pacific railroad through Dakota Territory, Rosser became a chief engineer for the Canadian Pacific. In 1886, he purchased a plantation in Virginia.

In June 1898, Rosser returned to active military duty upon President McKinley’s appointed as a brigadier general during the Spanish–American War. He was honorably discharged in October of that year.

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