Friday, March 16, 2012

General Benjamin "Ben" McCulloch.

General Benjamin "Ben" McCulloch.

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. He was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, and was the brother of Confederate Brigadier General Henry Eustace McCulloch. He followed his neighbor Davy Crockett to Texas and became one of the most colorful and popular figures of early Texas history. He fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, served in the Texas Republic Congress, became a surveyor in the new republic, and was a leader in the Texas Rangers. Commissioned a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army on April 11, 1861, he was placed in command of Indian Territory.

He obtained the Cherokees' promise to fight for the Confederacy and authorized Stand Watie to organize a Cherokee force. As commander of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas troops operating in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, he led Confederate forces against Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon's Union troops at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, on August 10, 1861. He personally led 2 companies of Louisiana infantry in a charge that captured 5 guns of Colonel Franz Sigel's command and routed the Union force. Because of casualties and lack of ammunition, his forces did not follow up their advantage.
He was a frontier fighter with little regard for formal military protocol or theory and usually wore a black velvet suit in the field. He feuded with Major General Sterling Price, with whom he was teamed at Wilson's Creek and other engagements. Friction between the two was eased by the appointment of Major General Earl Van Dorn as commander of the Trans-Mississippi District early in 1862. Price, Brigadier General Albert Pike, and himself were Van Dorn's top commanders at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas on March 7 and 8, 1862.

On the morning of March 7 he rode forward to reconnoiter enemy positions and was killed by enemy sharpshooter fire. His death was a contributing factor in the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge, which gave the Union control of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. At the time of his death he was the second ranking Confederate Brigadier General. McCulloch County in Texas is named in his honor.

Birth: Nov. 11, 1811.
Death: Mar. 7, 1862.
Burial: Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Travis County, Texas.

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