He was the son of Peter Totten and Grace Mansfield.
He was the Inspector of the USMA, West Point, NY, when JW was a cadet there. He was brevetted Major-General in 1864. He was the harbour Commissioner for New York and Boston, 1860-64. He was a member of several scientific societies. He translated Treussart's Essays on Hydraulic and Common Mortars (1842), and published a Report on National Defences (1851), and a Report on Firing with Heavy Ordnance (1857).
Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography, p. 937; The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, vol. 10, p. 176; Who Was Who in America, Chicago, 1963, p. 534; Cullum Memorial Edition, Register of Graduates and former cadets, United States Military Academy, West Point, 1980, No. 10.