Samuel Lockett was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, on July 7, 1837. He was the son of Napoleon Lockett and Mary Clay Lockett. Samuel grew up in Marion, Alabama, where he attended Howard College. In 1859 he graduated second in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and he married Cornelia Clark. During the Civil War he served as an engineer with the Confederate Army, rising to the rank of colonel and chief engineer of the Army of Tennessee. Nicola Marschall served as one of his draftsmen. After the war Lockett taught in Louisiana and Alabama, and later at the University of Tennessee. He was a prolific writer and artist. From 1875 to 1877 he served with the Egyptian army. Lockett also served as principal assistant engineer in the construction of the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. He was assigned to Chile in 1888 to work on a massive construction project. He died on October 12, 1891, in Bogota, Colombia.