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Soldiers in American History - F-L

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James W. FanninJames Walker Fannin, Jr (1804-1836) - Fannin was a 19th-century U.S. military figure in the Texas Army and leader during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36.


Born January 1, 1804, Fannin was the illegitimate son of a Georgia plantation owner, Dr. Isham Fannin. He was adopted by his maternal grandfather, James W. Walker, and reared on a plantation near Marion, Georgia. In 1819 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. He resigned in November 1821 and returned to Georgia where he became a merchant and married Minerva Fort, with whom he had two daughters.


In 1834 Fannin and his family moved to Velasco, Texas, where he became a planter and managing partner in a slave-trading syndicate. When the Texas Revolution erupted in 1835, Fannin joined the Texas volunteer army. Because of his West Point experience, he was given the rank of captain and later colonel.


With Jim Bowie, Fannin fought at the Battle of Concepción and participated in the siege of San Antonio. In March, 1836, Fannin and his men were stationed at the Presidio La Bahia (which he called Fort Defiance) in Goliad, Texas when they were ordered by Texas General Sam Houston to retreat from Goliad to Victoria.


On March 18, 1836, Fannin led more than 300 soldiers along with nine cannon and all their supplies and baggage out of Goliad. After they had traveled about nine miles Fannin ordered the column to halt to rest the animals. At about 3:00 p.m., the Mexican cavalry appeared and the Texians immediately formed a defensive square with their wagons, and placed their cannons in each corner.


After a fierce battle, known as the Battle of Coleto Creek the Mexicans lost about 100 to 200 killed and wounded; Texian losses were seven to nine killed and 60 wounded. But, facing a Mexican Army three times as large, Fannin and his troops surrendered the next day. Fannin negotiated a surrender that would allow the troops in his command to be paroled. However, on March 27, all of the prisoners were marched to Goliad, where on Santa Anna’s order, the entire command was massacred.


A few weeks later, when Houston finally engaged Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto, cries of "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" spurred his men into battle. Victory and Texas independence followed, a legacy of Fannin's sacrifice.


General Nathan B. ForrestNathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) - A wealthy plantation owner, Forrest distinguished himself in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A cavalryman, he saw extensive service in the Western Theater and became one of the most feared Confederate officers in the region. He was a master of mobile warfare and is often remembered for his fast attacks and raids.

John Charles Fremont (1813-1890) - Was an explorer, military officer, and politician who led multiple surveying expeditions through the western territory of the United States. See full article HERE.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) - An American General and the eighteenth President of the United States, Grant achieved international fame as the leading Union general in the Civil War, capturing Vicksburg in 1863 and Richmond in 1865. He accepted the surrender of his Confederate opponent Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. See full article HERE.

Henry W. Halleck (1815-1872) - A loyal defender of the Union, Henry Halleck served first as a senior commander in the Western Theater before becoming the General-in-Chief of Union armies in July, 1862. Known as "Old Brains" for his scholarly pursuits, Henry Wager Halleck was an accomplished Union general, lawyer, and land speculator.

Born in Oneida County, New York on January 16, 1815, Halleck was raised on a farm in upstate New York before running away to join his uncle in Utica, where he attended Hudson Academy. He then furthered his education at the United States Military Academy, ranking third in his class of 31 upon his graduation in 1839. During the Mexican-American War, Halleck spent several months in the West where, in addition to building fortifications in California and serving as lieutenant governor of the captured port of Mazatlan in Mexico. Prior to the Civil War, he also lectured at the Lowell Institute, wrote Elements of Military Art and Science, and built San Francisco, California's first fireproof building.

Despite having sympathies for the Confederacy, he was staunchly in favor of preserving the Union and became a U.S. Army major general in August 1861, after a recommendation from Union general Winfield Scott. The fourth highest ranking general in the Union army, Halleck was given command of the Department of the Missouri where he oversaw early Union operations, including the successes at Forts Henry and Donelson and the costly victory at Shiloh, Tennessee.

He was considered a good general, with Major General William T. Sherman once calling him the "directing genius" of several Union subordinates, considered difficult to work with, and provided little control when it came to field operations. As such, President Lincoln once described him as "little more than a first rate clerk." Following the Peninsula Campaign, Halleck was moved East and named General-in-Chief of all Union armies. In 1864, when Ulysses. S. Grant became General-in-Chief, Halleck was reassigned as chief of staff, where he was much more effective as an administrator. He served as pall-bearer for Abraham Lincoln, following the president's assassination in April 1865.

After the war, he visited the newly purchased Alaska territory with photographer Eadweard Muybridge and is credited as one of the people to give the state (then called Russian America) its name. Halleck spent his last years assigned to the Military Division of the South. He died at his post on January 9, 1872 in Louisville, Kentucky. His remains were sent back to his native New York, where he was buried at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909) - A career U.S. Army officer who made peace with Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise and made efforts to distribute land to African-Americans.

Stonewall JacksonThomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) - Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born at Clarksburg, [West] Virginia, on January 21, 1824, the third child of Jonathan Jackson and Julia Beckwith Neal Jackson. When he was just two, his father died and five years later, he was orphaned when his mother died as well. Sent to live with a paternal uncle near present-day Weston, West Virginia, Thomas helped around the farm and his uncle's mill. Much of his education was self-taught, but as the boy learned, he studied hard and later, actually taught school at Jackson's Mill. In 1842, he was barely accepted into the Military Academy at West Point, as he had difficulty with the entrance examinations. After graduating in 1846, he served in the Mexican-American War, then taught at the Virginia Military Institute.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate forces of Virginia and dispatched to Harpers Ferry where he was active in organizing the raw recruits. During his service, Jackson was quickly recognized for his innovation, leadership skills, and bravery and receiving several quick promotions, he was made a Brigadier General on June 17, 1861. He led a number of campaigns and battles during the Civil War, including the Valley Campaign, first and second battles of Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg. It was during the Battle of Bull Run when Jackson assumed his nickname, when Brigadier-General Barnard E. Bee stated, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall." He died on May 10, 1863 after being shot by "friendly fire" at the Battle of Chancellorsville.  A Southern hero, military historians consider him to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history. As a side note, did you know that not all of Jackson is buried in the same grave?  Read more HERE.

Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862) - The experienced and well-respected Albert Sidney Johnston was the commander of all Confederate army operations in the Western Theater when his army attacked and nearly destroyed by Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant at Shiloh, Tennessee on April 6, 1862. Johnston was wounded in the battle and did not survive his injuries. Though considered at the outset of the war, as one of the most promising commanders, North or South, Albert Sidney Johnston's service was brief and his vast potential unrealized. The Kentucky-born Johnston was appointed to West Point from Louisiana and graduated eighth in the class of 1826. After eight years of service he resigned to care for his terminally ill wife. A failure at farming, he went to Texas and joined the revolutionary forces as a private. Within a year, he had risen through the ranks as the force's chief commander and senior brigadier general.

He served as Secretary of War in the Republic of Texas and commanded the 1st Texas Rifles in the Mexican War. Reentering the United States army in 1849 as a major and paymaster, he became colonel in 1855. For his services in the 1857 campaign against the Mormons in Utah he was brevetted brigadier general. He resigned his commission on April 10, 1861, but did not quit his post on the West Coast until his successor arrived. Relieved of his command, he began the long trek to Richmond overland. Meeting with Jefferson Davis, he entered Confederate service on August 30, 1861 as a full general and the second ranking officer in the Confederacy. He was given command of all Confederate troops west of the Allegheny Mountains where he attempted to implement a strategy of utilizing isolated commands to hold points withing the invaded Confederate states.   Establishing a line of defense in Kentucky from the Mississippi River to the Appalachians, he held it until it was broken at Mill Springs in January and at Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862. Abandoning Kentucky and most of Tennessee, he fell back into northern Mississippi where he concentrated his previously scattered forces. In early April, 1862 he moved against Ulysses S. Grant's army in Tennessee
, surprising the Federals with an attack near Pittsburg Landing and driving them back, in what would become the Battle of Shiloh. While directing frontline operations he was wounded in the leg, likely by friendly fire. Not realizing the seriousness of his wound, he sent his personal physician to attend to some captured Union soldiers, and he bled to death on April 6, 1862. He was the highest ranking officer of either side killed during the war. His remains were returned to Texas where he was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.  

Stephen Watts Kearney (1784-1948) - One of the foremost frontier officers of the U.S. Army, General Stephen Kearney is remembered for his significant contributions in the Mexican-American War, especially the conquest of California. Stephen Watts Kearney was born August 30, 1794, in Newark, New Jersey. Following two years of college, Kearney joined the New York Militia and began a military career that would last for 36 years. He spent most of that time traveling throughout the western frontier, exploring, mapping, visiting Indian tribes and keeping the peace. He fought in the War of 1812 serving as a First Lieutenant. Afterwards he was assigned to the western frontier and in 1819 was a member of the expedition to explore the Yellowstone River in present-day Montana and Wyoming. During his travels, he kept extensive journals, including his interactions with Native Americans.

In 1826, Kearny was appointed as the first commander of the new Jefferson Barracks in Missouri south of St. Louis. While stationed there, he was often invited to the nearby city, the center of fur trade, economics and politics of the region. By way of Meriwether Lewis Clark, Sr., he was invited as a guest of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. During this time, Kearny met, courted and married Mary Radford, the stepdaughter of William Clark. The couple had eleven children, of whom six died in childhood.   In 1833, Kearny became the Lieutenant Colonel of the newly organized 1st Dragoon Regiment, which eventually grew into the U.S. Cavalry, earning him the nickname of the "father of the United States Cavalry". The regiment was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. By the early 1840s, when emigrants began traveling along the Oregon Trail, Kearny often ordered his men to escort the travelers across the plains to avoid attack by the Native Americans. At the outset of the Mexican–American War in 1856, Kearny was promoted to Brigadier General and took a force of about 2,500 men to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also became the Commander of the Army of the West, which consisted of some 1600 men.   By 1847, Kearney was promoted to Brevet-Major General and was appointed governor at Vera Cruz and Mexico City. While there, he contracted yellow fever and returned to his home in St. Louis, Missouri where he died on October 31, 1848. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, now a National Historic Landmark in St. Louis.

Lane's Brigade, aka: Kansas Brigade (1861) - After the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri on August 10, 1861, the Union army retreated. With the border exposed and General Sterling Price's men threatening the "free-soilers" of Kansas, General James H. Lane began the work of organizing troops for defense. He quickly began recruiting and within a short time, the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh regiments were ready for service. Lane took command of some 1,500 troops at Fort Scott, Kansas and led them into action against General Price in the Battle of Dry Wood Creek on September 2, 1861. Though, his troops lost the battle, Lane continued on, fighting through the towns of Paninsville,  Butler, Harrisonville, and Clinton, Missouri, before he ended his campaign by the burning of Osceola on September 23, 1861. The troops continued to pursue Price's men for a time but Lane was severely criticized for his actions in Osceola and soon sent back to Kansas. Lane was most severely condemned by General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Department of Missouri, who believed that the attacks made by Lane and Colonel Charles Jennison, aggravated anti-Union sentiments in Missouri and intensified resistance to federal authority in the state. Of their actions, he would state: "The course pursued by those under Lane and Jennison has turned against us many thousand who were formerly Union men. A few more such raids will make this State unanimous against us." Thus, Lane's Brigade was ended.  

Robert E. LeeRobert E. Lee (1807-1870) - Lee was a career U.S. Army officer and the most celebrated general of the Confederate forces during the Civil War. See Full Article HERE.  

William Henry Lewis (1829-1878) - Army officer who participated in both the Civil War and the Indian Wars. He was killed in the Battle of Punished Woman Fork, the last Indian battle in Kansas. Lewis was born in Alabama and when he grew up, attended and graduated from West Point. He then joined the 1st Infantry at Fort Brady, Michigan. In 1850, he transferred to the 5th Infantry and served at various posts in Texas. In 1856-57, he took part in the Seminole Wars before becoming part of the Utah Expedition against the Mormons. In 1860 and 1861, he was engaged in the Navajo Wars before the War of the Rebellion began. In the Civil War, he was stationed at Forts Marcy and Union in New Mexico and took part in the Battle of Apache Canyon. After the war, he had become a major and commanded Fort Douglas in Utah Territory. In 1869-70, he was stationed at Fort Fred Steele in Wyoming. Afterwards he was assigned to the Plains posts of Camp Supply, Idaho and Fort Dodge, Kansas. Now a Lieutenant-Colonel, he and his troops pursued Dull Knife's band of northern Cheyenne who had decided to leave their reservation in Oklahoma and return to their former home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. In what is referred to as the Cheyenne Raid, Lewis and his men caught up with the tribe in Scott County, Kansas. On the afternoon of September 27 1878, Colonel Lewis and his troops advanced on the tribe and in the Battle of Punished Woman Fork, Lewis was wounded in the thigh and one warrior was killed. The following day, Lewis was placed in a military ambulance and the soldiers made their way to Fort Wallace, Kansas about 40 miles to the northwest. Along the way, he died of his wounds, becoming the last Kansas military casualty of the Indian Wars.

James Longstreet (1821–1904) - Known as Old Pete and Lee’s War Horse, Confederate General Longstreet became one of the Civil War’s most controversial figures. Hard hitting in the attack, he nevertheless sensed the power of the tactical defense in an age of rifled weapons and field fortifications and preferred to fight from the defensive. His performance at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania drew fire from postwar critics who believed that, when General Robert E. Lee rejected his repeated advice to outflank the strong Federal position, Longstreet sulked and thereby cost the South the battle. Yet Lee never uttered direct criticism of Longstreet, who stood by him to the end at Appomattox, Virginia. He was one of the most valued and trusted lieutenants to General Lee.




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