Herman Haupt was born in Philadelphia, on 26th March, 1817. After graduating from West Point in 1835 he left the United States Army and worked as railroad engineer. He also taught civil engineering, architecture and mathematics at Penn College. Later he became chief engineer of the Penn Railroad.
On the outbreak of the American Civil War Haupt joined the Union Army. Given the rank of colonel he worked as an aide to General Irvin McDowell. In April, 1862 he was placed in charge of transportation and construction of the US military railroads. However, he resigned a year later complaining that he had been willing to serve without official rank or pay as long as no restrictions were placed on his work "but could not tolerate interference."
After the war Haupt continued to work as a railroad engineer and developed a superior pneumatic drill.
Herman Haupt died in New Jersey on 14th December, 1905.