Herbert Titus was the descendant of Joseph Titus who purchased land in the Center Village area in 1777. His father Ezra had the reputation of being one of the best teachers of his time. So, it is no surprise that at the age of 14, Herbert was successfully teaching at his first school with a classroom of 40 students, 16 of whom were older than him. He alternated his teaching and farming with studying at the academies in West Brattleboro, Chesterfield and Meriden. In 1854, he entered Yale College. But, because of the death of his generous benefactor, he could only stay for one term. He returned to teach and in 1859 was appointed Commissioner of Common Schools for Cheshire County.
Titus was one of the first to respond to President Lincoln’s call to arms following the surrender of Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. On June 4, 1861, he was commissioned Second-Lieutenant of Company A, 2nd Regiment NH Volunteers (NHV). In the same month, he was promoted to Major of the 9th Regiment NHV Infantry. On Nov. 22, 1862 he was promoted again to Colonel of the same regiment.
On Sept. 17, 1862, during the Battle of Antietam Creek, MD, he was wounded while firing his rifle. The bullet entered the right shoulder in the front and had to be extracted from under the shoulder blade. The severity of the wound disabled him for five months, after which he returned to active duty. He was discharged from the Army on September 27, 1864, and then re-instated by Special Orders of the War Department on Nov. 1, 1864. On March 15, 1865 he was appointed Brigadier General by brevet “for gallant and meritorious services during the War.” (A brevet gives a commissioned officer a higher rank title as a reward for gallantry, but without conferring the authority, precedence, or pay of real rank. It is noted as Bvt.) At Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, he was in command of a brigade of ten regiments, including the sixth, ninth, and eleventh New Hampshire. He was mustered out of the Army in New Hampshire on June 10, 1865.
After the close of the war he was employed for a time as a special agent of the government, mainly in connection with the collection of captured and abandoned property in the Southern states, and the recovery of Confederate ships in England and France. Afterwards, he purchased an extensive tract of land in Virginia where he returned to farming. Because he was still suffering from the aftermath of his wartime injury, he stopped farming and started practicing law. He became a member of “Hovey and Titus, Attys and Counselors at Law, Washington DC.” They also had an office in New York City, where Titus resided. At times, the firm was specially employed on behalf of the Government in important cases, and by the French government in cases before the French and American claims commission.
Besides practicing law, he became involved in other business enterprises. For some time, he was engaged in mining and dredging in the Black Hills and New Mexico, where he has spent several months. Bvt. Brig-Gen. Herbert B. Titus, never married and is buried in the Ware-Joslyn Cemetery on Old Chesterfield Road, in Chesterfield Center.