Buckeye Generals of the Confederacy

    Whitelaw Reid's two volume Ohio in the War series published in 1895 remains the most comprehensive work yet produced on the state's participation in the Civil War. Volume I features a history of the state itself during the war as well as a lengthy section detailing the lives of the Ohio-born Generals who led the Union army. But there is one group of Ohio-born Generals that Reid conspicuously avoided: the Buckeye-born Generals of the Confederacy. 

    I was surprised to discover that a total of six native Ohioans achieved a general's rank in the Confederate army. A few common themes emerged: each man had migrated to the South years before the start of the war, most of them hailed from the southern half of the state, most of them ultimately served in the western theater, and every one of them was either wounded and killed in the service. The job of detailing their lives and service fell to Ezra Warner and their stories below were featured in his book Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Work from additional historians has also been consulted to assemble this brief portrait of the Buckeye Generals of the Confederacy.

 

Major General Charles Clark of Mississippi

Major General Charles Clark 

Lebanon, Warren Co., Ohio

    Charles Clark was born in Lebanon, Ohio on May 24, 1811, just before the outset of the War of 1812 that opened up so much of the northern portion of the state to white settlement. After graduating from Augusta College in Kentucky in 1831, Clark moved to Mississippi where he worked as a teacher and attorney. His legal work eventually secured for him a large plantation along the Mississippi River at Beulah in Bolivar County. Clark cleverly named the 5,000 acre plantation Doe-Roe (generic legal names commonly used in legal disputes) but it became popularly known as Doro Plantation. That said, Clark became one of the wealthiest planters in the state. 

    Clark married Ann Eliza Darden, the daughter of a wealthy planter, and had three children with her. He served several terms in the Mississippi legislature as a Whig and firm proponent of the policies of Henry Clay. During the Mexican War, he served as captain then colonel of the 2nd Mississippi Rifles (Jefferson Davis led the 1st Mississippi Rifles); the regiment was mustered into service at Vicksburg in January 1847 and spent more than a year in Mexico on occupation duty around Saltillo. 

    In the 1850s and coinciding with the demise of the Whig Party, Clark became a Democrat and supported the campaign of John C. Breckinridge in the 1860 Presidential election. He was an advocate of secession and as a brigadier general in the Mississippi militia, he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate service in 1861. General Clark led the First Division of Leonidas Polk's First Corps at the Battle of Shiloh; the division had two brigades, one of Tennessee and Louisiana troops under Colonel Robert Russell and the second under Brigadier General Alexander P. Stewart that had troops from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Stewart's brigade was sent to another portion of the line by General Polk, so Clark stayed with Russell's brigade an accompanied it into action on the morning of April 6, 1862. During a charge, Clark received a severe wound in the right shoulder and was taken to the rear, relinquishing divisional command first to Colonel Russell as General Stewart who was (as previously stated) away on another part of the field. 

    General Clark recuperated for a few months then was assigned a new divisional command under John C. Breckinridge. The division had two brigades, one a mixed brigade of Kentuckians, Mississippians, and Alabamians under General Benjamin Hardin Helm (President Lincoln's brother-in-law) and the second brigade under Colonel Winfield Statham comprised of Mississippi and Tennessee troops. On August 5, 1862 at the Battle of Baton Rouge, General Clark sustained a severe hip wound and was captured. As his hip was shattered by the ball, the Federals allowed him to be taken to New Orleans for treatment by Clark's personal physician. The wound required him to use crutches for the rest of his life. Upon his release, he returned to Mississippi where he was promoted to the rank of Major General in the Mississippi Militia but his days of field service were over. 

    General Clark was elected as Mississippi governor on October 5, 1863. Clark was the last "Rebel" governor of Mississippi; the war in the state consumed his administration and Clark had to move the state capital from Jackson to Macon, then to Columbus, and eventually back to Macon. The governor was arrested by Federal authorities in Jackson on May 22, 1865; he was formally replaced by William Lewis Sharkey who was appointed provisional governor by President Andrew Johnson, the appointment taking effect June 19, 1865. It was said that when Governor Clark learned that he was to be arrested, he "straightened out his mangled limbs as best he could and with great difficulty said 'I denounce before high heaven and the civilized world this act of tyranny and usurpation. I only yield because I have no power to resist.' 

    Clark was imprisoned at Fort Pulaski at Savannah, Georgia until he signed the oath of allegiance on September 2, 1865; he was released soon thereafter and returned to Beulah where he lived the rest of his life and practiced law. In late 1876, he was appointed judge of the Fourth District Court and held that position until he died December 18, 1877 at age 66. General Clark is buried in the family cemetery in Beulah, Bolivar Co., Mississippi. 

    Interestingly, his tombstone states that he was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but most reference works state that he was born in Lebanon, Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society had erected a marker in Lebanon denoting that city as his birthplace but the marker is reported missing. 

 

Brigadier General Robert Hopkins Hatton

Brigadier General Robert Hopkins Hatton

Steubenville, Jefferson Co., Ohio


    Robert Hopkins Hatton was born November 2, 1826 in Steubenville, Ohio to a Methodist minister, one of six children. The Hatton family moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1835 and Robert was educated in the South, being an 1847 graduate of Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee. "In youth, he embraced Christianity as the true science of manhood," his gravestone states. Hatton devoted himself to the study of law gained admission to the bar in 1850. In 1852, he married Sophie Reilly and had three children. 

    Hatton served in the Tennessee state legislature as a Whig for a single term and ran for governor in 1857, losing to Isham G. Harris; rumor has it that he even got into a fistfight with Harris while campaigning in Fayetteville! "He won the fight but lost the election," it was said. After this defeat, Hatton switched parties and became a Know-Nothing" and this served him in good stead as he was elected to Congress in 1859. 

    A reporter for the New York Times described Hatton thus: “He is rather tall, rather thin, with a large head and long face, made longer by a profusion of orange chinbeard, harmonizing well with pink cheeks, a large fair forehead, high and expansive; blue eyes, set wide apart on each side of a small irregular nose, high cheek bones, and a great quantity of thick brown hair, rather inclined to curl, but hardly having length sufficient to indulge its propensity. Decidedly, Mr. Hatton has more of the studied graces of an orator than any member yet seen upon the floor. His gestures are full, found, and appropriate—seldom violent—never grotesque, but always emphatic, and with an inclination to the florid order. His voice is musical and full of the church-organ tone; and he speaks with the deliberativeness of a man determined to say nothing in support of which he is not willing to stand a pistol shot.”

    Hatton served in Washington until Fort Sumter and opposed secession; he made an impassioned speech in Lebanon imploring his constituents to stick by the Union, but was burned in effigy for his efforts. Once Lincoln issued his call for volunteers to crush the rebellion, Hatton changed his position and reluctantly took up arms for his adopted state. Hatton set to work raising the 7th Tennessee Infantry, mustering in as colonel on May 27, 1861. The regiment trained at Camp Trousdale in Sumner County, Tennessee until July 1861 when it was sent to Staunton, Virginia. While in Virginia, Hatton and his regiment saw service under General Robert E. Lee during the Cheat Mountain campaign and later with Stonewall Jackson in early 1862. 

    By the spring of 1862, the 7th Tennessee was stationed near Richmond, Virginia and took part in the Peninsula Campaign. Colonel Hatton secured a promotion to brigadier general on May 23, 1862 and was given command of the Tennessee brigade of General William H.C. Whiting's division of Smith's wing of the army. "On the afternoon of May 31, 1862 while attacking in the tangled woods around Fair Oaks Station, he was instantly killed at the head of his brigade," Warner reports. General Hatton was leading the charge atop his favorite horse named Ball when the horse was shot down; Hatton continued the charge on foot and was shot through the head and killed just 30 paces from where Ball fell. His reported last words were "Forward my boys, forward!" 

    The intention was to send General Hatton's body to his home in Lebanon, Tennessee, but as that area was then under Union control, his body was first buried in Knoxville. In 1866, it was moved to Cedar Grove Cemetery in Lebanon and in 1912 a statue to General Hatton was erected in the town square of Lebanon. Special thanks to Ken Beck for his tremendously helpful article detailing General Hatton's life which can be viewed here

Major General Bushrod Rust Johnson


Major General Bushrod Rust Johnson 

Belmont Co., Ohio

 

    Bushrod Rust Johnson was born October 7, 1817 in Belmont County, Ohio into a Quaker family with abolitionist sentiments. He secured an appointment to West Point and was graduate of the class of 1840, he graduated with a rank of 23rd out of 42 officers numbering among his classmates William Tecumseh Sherman (also from Ohio), George Henry Thomas, Richard S. Ewell, and John P. McCown. Johnson served in the 3rd Infantry regiment of the U.S. Army during the Seminole War and later during the Mexican War. 

   Johnson was accused of selling contraband goods during the war, and he resigned his commission as a result in 1847. He entered the teaching profession, including stints at the Western Military Institute in Georgetown, Kentucky and at the Military College of the University of Tennessee at Nashville. He married Mary Hatch in 1851 and she bore him a son before succumbing to illness in 1858, leaving Johnson a widow with a handicapped child. 

    Johnson was active with the militia of both states and held the rank of colonel by the outbreak of hostilities in 1861. Johnson was then working as a professor of mathematics at the University of Nashville and resolved to fight for the South, but he first went North and left his son Charles with Northern relatives. The son, Charles, believed during the war that his father was fighting in the Union army; I'm sure Johnson's relatives knew differently. 

    Given his West Point education, Johnson was commissioned a colonel in the Confederate army in the engineering corps and was involved in locating the sites of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in the fall of 1861. On January 24, 1862 he was commissioned brigadier general and briefly held command of Fort Donelson before being superseded by the arrival of General Gideon J. Pillow.  The order of battle shows him as commanding the left wing after Gideon Pillow skedaddled on February 16, 1862. General Johnson was part of the surrendered garrison, but escaped and rejoined Albert Sidney Johnston's army at Corinth.

    At Shiloh, General Johnson had command of the First Brigade of Cheatham's Division of Polk's Corps; his brigade consisted of a Tennessee battery, three Tennessee regiments, and Blythe's Mississippi regiment. During the engagement, Johnson assumed divisional command after General Cheatham was wounded and in this capacity Johnson himself was also wounded by the concussion of an artillery shell on April 7, 1862. After his recovery, Johnson was given command of a new brigade assigned to William J. Hardee's corps which consisted of five Tennessee regiments (17th, 23rd, 25th, 37th and 44th), the 5th Confederate, and Putman Darden's Mississippi artillery battery. Johnson led this brigade at Perryville, and Murfreesboro. At Chickamauga, Johnson had command of a provisional division attached to Longstreet's corps which consisted of his old brigade, John Gregg's brigade, and Evander McNair's brigade. Johnson led this division under Longstreet through the Knoxville campaign and was then assigned duty with the Army of Northern Virginia. 

    Johnson's star appeared to be on the rise and on May 21, 1864 he was promoted to the rank of major general and led a four brigade division of Richard Anderson's Fourth Corps during the siege of Petersburg. "His men bore much of the bitter fighting in the trenches during the protracted siege which followed," Warner noted. Johnson's performance during the Battle of the Crater proved less than stellar, and put him in a bad light with General Robert E. Lee. Johnson's division suffered decimation on April 6, 1865 during the Battle of Sailor's Creek, and Johnson himself was relieved of command on April 8, 1865, but surrendered with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia the following day at Appomattox. To learn more about Johnson's last minute dismissal from the Confederate army, click here to read Lee White's Emerging Civil War post "The Dismissal of Bushrod Johnson, the Confederacy's Luckless Ohioan."

    General Johnson returned to Tennessee in 1866 and went back into education, serving as the chancellor of the University of Tennessee. A unsuccessful period was head of a preparatory school combined with declining health led General Johnston to relocate to a farm near Brighton, Illinois where he died in relative obscurity September 12, 1880. He was originally buried at Miles Station Cemetery in Illinois, but his body was exhumed in August 1975 and reburied next to his wife Mary in Nashville's City Cemetery where it rests today. 

    To learn more about General Johnson, you may want to check out Charles Cumming's 1971 book Yankee Quaker, Confederate General: The Curious Career of Bushrod Rust Johnson.


Brigadier General Daniel Harris Reynolds

Brigadier General Daniel Harris Reynolds 

Centerburg, Knox Co., Ohio

 

    Daniel Harris Reynolds was born December 14, 1832 in the village of Centerburg in Knox Co., Ohio, the fourth of ten children born to Amos and Sophia Reynolds. Both parents were deceased by the time Daniel turned 18, and he attended Ohio Wesleyan University in nearby Delaware, Ohio with another Buckeye Confederate general whose life will be reviewed later, Otho F. Strahl. He also joined the Masons while a student at Ohio Wesleyan.

    Following graduation, Reynolds traveled west to Iowa then in 1855 attended law school at Somerville, Tennessee. He moved west again in 1858, this time to  Lake Village, Arkansas where he established a successful law practice and Reynolds became active with the Arkansas militia. He was also an outspoken secessionist. At the outbreak of the war, he raised a cavalry company called the Chicot Rangers which became Co. A of the 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles. Reynolds proved to be an exceptional soldier, and soon was promoted to colonel of the regiment. He took part in the Battle of Wilson's Creek where he was injured during a fall from his horse, Pea Ridge in March 1862, Farmington, Richmond (Ky), Jackson (Miss) and Chickamauga. General Reynolds earned a solid reputation with his superiors and had little patience for ineffective commanders; he denounced General Samuel French in January 1864 and refused to serve under him; French had him arrested but the charges were soon dismissed and Reynolds petitioned to have his brigade transferred to General Edward C. Walthall's division. 

    General Reynolds received his brigadier's star on March 5, 1864 and he was assigned duty in Mobile, Alabama, but soon returned to the Army of Tennessee and led a brigade of Arkansas troops as part of Walthall's Division of Polk's corps. Reynolds took part in the numerous engagements of the Atlanta campaign and with Hood's army led his brigade at Franklin where he sustained a slight wound, one which he did not officially report. Reynolds' Arkansans helped cover the retreat of Hood's army after its defeat at Nashville and Reynolds led the survivors of his brigade at Bentonville. On March 19, 1865 during that engagement, General Reynolds was struck in the left leg by a cannon ball and lost that leg to amputation, it being amputated above the knee. That ended the war for him, and he was officially paroled May 29, 1865 at Charlottesville, Virginia and returned home to Arkansas to practice law.

    Reynolds petitioned President Andrew Johnson repeatedly for a pardon and finally received one in November 1866; he was soon elected to the Arkansas General Assembly before Federal authorities broke up the body. General Reynolds married Martha Jane Wallace on November 24, 1868 and had five children with her; he also fathered an illegitimate child with a neighbor woman named Annie Franklin who was the wife of one of his business associates. She ended up returning to her hometown of Liverpool, England to have her child and to avoid scandal. Reynolds enjoyed great financial success after the war, eventually owning 60,000 acres of land. He died March 14, 1902 in Lake Village, Arkansas and is buried Lake Village Cemetery. Like General Clark, the Ohio Historical Society erected a marker for Reynolds in his birthplace of Centerburg, Ohio. 


Brigadier General Roswell Sabine Ripley

Brigadier General Roswell Sabine Ripley

 Worthington, Franklin Co., Ohio

 

    Roswell Sabine Ripley was born March 14, 1823  in Worthington, Ohio to Christopher and Julia Ripley. The family did not reside in Ohio for long, returning east to Massachusetts in 1827 then to Ogdensburg, New York where in 1839 General Ripley secured an appointment to West Point. He graduated 7th out of 39 cadets in the class of 1843 and numbered among his classmates Ulysses S. Grant, William B. Franklin, and Samuel French who his fellow Buckeye Daniel Reynolds refused to serve under. Ripley entered the artillery branch and saw much action during the Mexican War while serving on the staffs of General Zachary Taylor and Gideon J. Pillow; he earned two brevet promotions during the war and in 1849 published the two volume History of the Mexican War

    After Mexico, General Ripley saw action in the Second Seminole War and served at army outposts throughout the South, but most importantly at Fort Moultrie near Charleston, South Carolina where he met his future wife Alicia Middleton Sparks who he married in 1852. The pressing need to manage his wealthy wife's business affairs soon led Ripley to resign his commission from the army; the 1850s saw him more closely identifying with states rights and secession. His business career flourished and he published the Baltimore Daily American Times newspaper.

    The outbreak of hostilities found him actively involved with the South Carolina militia; as a matter of fact, it was troops under his command that occupied his old army post at Fort Moultrie in December 1860 and later occupied Fort Sumter after its surrender. He was commissioned a brigadier general August 15, 1861 and continued to command in South Carolina. "Ripley was a skillful and competent field officer but forever at odds with both his superiors and subordinates," Warner noted. General Pemberton tried to cashier him in 1862 and Ripley's fractious spirit followed him wherever assigned to duty. 

    Transferred north to the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring of 1862, General Ripley led a brigade in General Daniel H. Hill's division of Jackson's corps during the Seven Days and at Antietam. He badly bungled his assignment at Mechanicsville, and by the time he was wounded in the neck at Antietam, he had become widely disliked figure in the army. Blustering and rough in speech with an apparent fondness for whiskey, his men felt him an "unworthy commander" and his own division commander later complained that Ripley "was a born coward, a coward or a traitor in bad odor." Ripley returned to the army after recovering from his Antietam wound long enough to participate in the Fredericksburg campaign before being sent home to South Carolina where he was given district command in Charleston. There he remained until nearly the end of the war when he took part in the Battle of Bentonville. 

    Ripley departed the states after the war and spent many years in Europe where he occasionally showcased his sharp pen in publishing articles about the war, but generally spent his time racking up debts and "living the high life." Late in life, he returned to the U.S. but, estranged from wife and family, he spent most of his time in New York instead of Charleston and died there March 29, 1887 at age 64. "Wayward and mercurial to the last, he could never bring himself to any permanent attachment to an activity or a location," one historian noted. Interestingly, Ripley's widow did not attend his funeral. Ripley once had a historical marker in Worthington that was erected in 2004, but is has since been removed. (Thanks Brent Nimmo!) 

    Special thanks to Robert Krick for his superb article "Rebel Pariah: General Roswell Ripley" which can be viewed here


Brigadier General Otho French Strahl

Brigadier General Otho French Strahl

McConnelsville, Morgan Co., Ohio

    Otho French Strahl was born June 3, 1831 in McConnelsville, Ohio to Pennsylvania-born Quaker parents Philip and Rhoda Strahl. Like General Daniel Reynolds, Strahl attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio and attended law school with him at Somerville, Tennessee. He was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1858 and was practicing in Dyersburg in western Tennessee at the outbreak of the war; he even served as town mayor. He helped raise the Dyer Guards which became Co. K of the 4th Tennessee Infantry in May 1861 and was elected captain. General Strahl served with the 4th Tennessee for the rest of the war, gaining promotion to colonel then earning his general's stars July 28, 1863. 

    General Strahl saw action as lieutenant colonel at Shiloh serving in the division under fellow Buckeye Charles Clark; he led the regiment through Perryville and shortly afterwards it was consolidated with the remnants of the 5th Tennessee to form the 4th/5th Tennessee Consolidated. He led the consolidated regiment at Murfreesboro and through the Tullahoma campaign; afterwards he took command of the brigade from Alexander P. Stewart and led it for the rest of the war, gaining much favorable notice for his conduct at Chickamauga. 

    General Strahl saw action throughout the Atlanta campaign and met his demise on the night of November 30, 1864 during the Battle of Franklin. "Standing in the ditch outside the Federal works, he was handing up guns to his riflemen posted to fire down in the enemy on the inside when he was struck," Warner wrote. "His last words, in answer to a question from one of the men was to 'Keep on firing." General Strahl was struck in the neck then twice in the head; his body was carried to the Carnton plantation house and he was initially buried near there. His remains were later removed and placed at St. John Episcopal Churchyard in Columbia, Tennessee; in the late 1800s, they were again moved an now are entombed at Dyersburg City Cemetery. The state of Ohio also erected a marker to General Strahl in his birthplace of McConnelsville. 

Comments

  1. Perhaps fittingly the SCV Camp in greater Columbus is named after Ripley. And those of us who live in the southern half of the state do not consider Knox County southern in geographic location. :) Nice article, Dan!!!

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