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Army of the West

        Major-General Earl Van Dorn assumed command of the troops in the Trans-Mississippi District of Western Department (No. 2), on January 29, 1862. Out of the force grew the Army of the West, so called after March 4th. It was largely composed of the Missouri State Guard. This army fought at Pea Ridge and elsewhere in Arkansas, and, being transferred across the Mississippi, was present at the siege of Corinth. The First Division was commanded by Major-General Sterling Price after March 22d, and the Second by Major-General Samuel Jones. It had three divisions after May, and a strength of over twenty thousand. On June 20th, Van Dorn was replaced by Major-General John P. McCown, who had commanded the Third Division, and he in turn by Major-General Price, on July 3d. The transfer of the Army of the Mississippi to Chattanooga at the end of July, left the Army of the West in control of western Tennessee, and northern Mississippi. One division of the army fought the battle of Iuka, September 10th. On September 28th, a junction was made with Van Dorn's new command of troops in Mississippi, and the new organization was denominated the Army of West Tennessee. To Price was assigned a corps, which continued to be called, sometimes, the Army of the West.
        Major-General Earl Van Dorn (U. S. M. A. 1842) was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi, September 17, 1820, and served in the Mexican War and in several Indian campaigns. He resigned from the army, and was commissioned a colonel in the Confederate States army in March, 1861. His first commands were at New Orleans, and in the Department of Texas, where he forced the surrender of United States troops under Major Sibley and Colonel Reeve. He was made brigadier-general in June and major-general in September. In October and November, 1861, he commanded a division in the Army of the Potomac, and was assigned, in January, 1862, to the Trans-Mississippi District (Department No. 2), in which he had command of the Army of the West. He was defeated at Pea Ridge in March, and, with the Army of West Tennessee, at Corinth in October. After Pemberton assumed control of this force in the department in which Van Dorn was operating, he continued to command a cavalry division, at the head of which he made a brilliant raid in Mississippi in December, 1862. In March, 1862, Van Dorn's cavalry division was designated a corps in the Army of Tennessee. On May 8, 1863, he was shot and killed by Doctor Peters, at Spring Hill, Tennessee, the result of a private quarrel.
        Major-General John Porter McCown (U. S. M. A. 1840) was born in Tennessee, in 1815, and served in the Mexican war, being brevetted captain for gallant conduct at Cerro Gordo. He resigned from the service in May, 1861, and entered the Confederate army, taking charge of the artillery in the provisional army of the State of Tennessee. As brigadier-general, he commanded a division in the Army at the battle of Belmont, November 7, 1861. at New Madrid, he had a division in the Army of the West, and was temporarily at the head of that force in June, 1862. He was placed in command of the Department of East Tennessee in September. Subsequently, he commanded a division of the Army of Kentucky, which fought with the Second Corps, Army of Tennessee, at the battle of Stone's River. In February, 1863, he was arrested on charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline and sent to Chattanooga, but was released. At the end of the war he fought with the Army of Tennessee in North Carolina. He died, January 22, 1879.
Source: "The Photographic History of the Civil War"

This Page last updated 03/28/04


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