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Confederate General Earl Van Dorn

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Item No. CV2215MF Category


Litho carte view of the general. Van Dorn graduated from West Point, 1842, as brevet second lieutenant and was assigned to the Seventh infantry and was commissioned second lieutenant in November, 1844.  In the war with Mexico he was engaged in the defense of Fort Brown, the storming of Monterey, the siege of Vera Cruz, and the battles of Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, as well as capture of the city of Mexico. Promoted to first lieutenant on March 3, 1847 and brevetted to captain the following month for gallant and meritorious conduct at Cerro Gordo, and brevetted to major for the same conduct at Contreras and Churubusco. He would be wounded on entering the Belen Gate of the city of Mexico. Later, Van Dorn served in Florida against the Seminole Indians, and commanded an expedition against the Comanche Indians, receiving 4 wounds in a combat near Washita Village, Indian Territory, October 1, 1858. Two of the wounds were inflicted by arrows and proved quite dangerous.  He was commissioned captain of the Second Cavalry March 3, 1855, and major in the same regiment in June, 1860. Once Mississippi succeeded, he re-signed his commission in the United States army, and was appointed brigadier-general of the State forces by the Mississippi legislature, and afterward major-general to succeed Jefferson Davis. Commissioned colonel of cavalry in the regular Confederate service to date from March, 1861, and for a short time was in command at Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans. Then going to Texas he was put in command of that department in April. With a body of Texas volunteers on April 20th he captured the steamer Star of the West, in Galveston harbor, and on the 24th of the same month received at Saluria the surrender of Maj. Caleb C. Sibley and seven companies of the United States infantry, and that of Col. Isaac V. D. Reese with six companies of the Eighth infantry. His promotion in the Confederate army was very rapid, to brigadier-general in June, and to major-general in September, 1861.  Going to Virginia he was assigned to command of the First Division, Army of the Potomac, during the latter part of 1861. Transferred in January, 1862, to the command of the Trans-Mississippi district.  There, in general command of the forces of Price, McCulloch and McIntosh, he brought on the battle of Elkhorn, which was well-conceived, but failed to succeed due to the loss of the latter two officers. Ordered by Gen. A. S. Johnston to cross the Mississippi, he brought his army to Corinth just after the battle of Shiloh, and joining Beauregard, was in command of the army of the West, which formed one corps of the forces occupying Corinth until the latter part of May. His next service was in command of the district of Mississippi, with headquarters at Vicksburg, during the naval operations against that place in the summer of 1862.  After Bragg moved toward Kentucky Van Dorn was left in command of a force called the army of West Tennessee, with which, aided by Price’s army of the West, he made an attack on Rosecrans at Corinth, October, 1862, in which his troops made a gallant fight, but suffered heavy loss in the attempt to carry the enemy’s works. The circumstances of the battle and the retreat which followed were the subject of investigation, and while he was vindicated from certain charges made against him, he was transferred to command of cavalry. At the head of the force which he organized, he defeated Grant’s formidable invasion of Mississippi in December, 1862, by the surprise and capture of the garrison at Holly Springs, and the destruction of the stores accumulated. He formed a splendid cavalry command in Mississippi and west Tennessee, with such able lieutenants as Forrest, Martin, Jackson, Armstrong, Whitfield and Cosby.  In March he assailed a force of the enemy at Thompson’s Station, Tenn., capturing over 1,000 men. The general would meet his end when he was murdered by a jealous husband on May 7, 1863 as he sat at his desk in his office in Spring Hill, Tennessee. This example is back marked by Anthony.

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