Earl Van Dorn
One of the Confederacy's most promising general officers early in the Civil War, Mississippian West Pointer (1842) Earl Van Dorn proved to be a disappointment and died, not at the hands of the enemy but at those of a jealous husband.
Posted to the infantry, he had won two brevets in the Mexican War, being wounded at the City of Mexico. Transferring to the cavalry in 1855, he was wounded in Indian fighting in 1858 near wichita Village, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
Resigning as a major in the 2nd Cavalry on January 31, 1861, he offered his services to his native state. His assignments included: brigadier general, Mississippi State Troops (ca. January 1861); major general, Mississippi State Troops (ca. February 1861); colonel, Cavalry (March 16, 1861); commanding Department of Texas (April 21 - September 4, 1861); brigadier general, CSA (June 5, 1861); major general, CSA (September 19, 1861); commanding division, lst Corps, Army of the Potomac (October 4-22, 1861); commanding Ist Division, Potomac District, Department of Northern Virginia (October 22, 1861 - January 10, 1862); commanding Trans-Mississippi District, Department #2 (March 4 - June 20, 1862); commanding Department of Southern Mississippi and East Louisiana (June 20 - July 2, 1862); commanding District of the Mississippi, Department #2 (July 2 - October 1, 1862); commanding Army of West Tennessee, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana (October 1862); commanding lst Corps, Army of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana (December 1862); commanding cavalry division, Army of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana (January 13 - 20, 1863); commanding Cavalry Corps, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana (January 20 - February 1863); and commanding cavalry division, Army of Tennessee (February 25 - May 7, 1863). Early in the war he commanded in Texas where he seized U.S. property and received the surrender of regular army detachments. Promoted rapidly to brigadier and major general, he was ordered to Virginia where he led a division near Manassas.
Early in 1862 he was sent to command in Arkansas in order to get Ben McCulloch and Sterling Price to cooperate.
Launching an attack at Pea Ridge, he was repulsed after two days of fighting. Ordered east of the Mississippi, he arrived too late to take part in the fighting at Shiloh but participated in the unsuccessful defense of Corinth, Mississippi.
In the summer of 1862 he successfully defended Vicksburg but failed in his designs on Baton Rouge when the attack under John C. Breckinridge failed.
Another failure occurred when he attempted to retake Corinth in October 1862. By this time many Southerners were disenchanted with him, and he was placed in charge of the mounted troops under Pemberton. His raid on Holly Springs, Mississippi, was a major factor in ending Grant's campaign in central Mississippi.
Moving his division into middle Tennessee, he was killed on May 7, 1863, by Dr. George B. Peters for attentions paid by the general upon the physician's wife in Spring Hill. (Hartje, Robert G., Van Dorn, The Life and Times of a Confederate General)
Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
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