Tag Archives: Jefferson Davis

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

In addition to being one of two people to serve in the U.S. House and Senate, a President’s Cabinet, and the U.S. Supreme Court, L.Q.C. Lamar was one of eight senators featured in Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, which is one of those books you’ve heard about but never read.

A lawyer from Georgia, Lamar bounced between Georgia and Mississippi to practice law and teach before getting elected to the Georgia State House of Representatives in 1853, and then three years later in Mississippi to the U.S. House. (Pick a state, man!) When secession time came around, he resigned from the House and joined the Mississippi Secession Convention, drafting the state’s Ordinance of Secession and mustering a regiment. When bad health kept him away from the battlefield, Jefferson Davis appointed him Confederate minister to Russia and special envoy to England and France until the end of the war.

Once former Confederates were allowed to hold office again, Lamar came right back, serving in the U.S. House (again) and then Senate, where he earned his spot in Profiles in Courage by eulogizing Charles Sumner instead of caning him again and voting against the “free silver” movement. Grover Cleveland appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 1885, then two years later nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court, where he died five years later.

Sources: 1, 2

Zebulon Baird Vance

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy had ambition. Studying law by 21 and in the North Carolina House of Commons by 24, Vance made friends and won elections with his oratorical skills and soon entered Congress as the youngest legislator and one of the few Southern supporters of the Union. This is 1860, mind you, and Vance’s fire-breathing neighbors to the south are calling for secession. Yet once his home state voted in favor of it, he resigned his seat and returned and raised a company of soldiers dubbed the “Rough and Ready Guards.” He fought his way up to colonel and by 1862 was on the gubernatorial ballot as the “soldier’s candidate.” It’s tough beating a popular soldier during wartime, so he won handily and left his regiment just before it was decimated at Gettysburg.

His time as governor was noteworthy for a few reasons: he pissed off the Richmond crew because of his insistence on local self-governance, meaning he didn’t always play along with the rest of the Confederacy. North Carolina was the only rebel state to keep its civilian courts open and observe habeas corpus, and Vance refused to let blockade runners pass through until Carolinians had their share. That was all well and good until the war ended and Vance was arrested and imprisoned for a time (that whole rebellion thing usually backfires). No worries though – he was paroled eventually and went back to governating to much popular acclaim.

Up next in CCWN, the scandalous Samuel Clarke Pomeroy. 

(Source: 1) (Image credit)

Leonidas Polk

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

Leonidas Polk was many things: a West Point graduate, founder of The University of The South (Sewanee), the second cousin of President James Polk, and an Episcopalian bishop. He was also a terrible field general. He was a typical example of a Civil War “political general”, a man who had little or no combat experience but was given (or demanded) a political appointment from someone in power, who in Polk’s case was the Confederate’s big dog himself, Jefferson Davis.

Polk didn’t demand the job; he just offered his services to Old Jeff, who dispatched him to the Tennessee Valley. He hopped around Tennessee and Mississippi, all the while butting heads with General Braxton Bragg, who called Polk “an old woman…utterly worthless” but knew he couldn’t shake him because Jeff Davis loved him. Didn’t matter for too long, though, because Polk was killed in June 1864 when General William Tecumseh Sherman (of The March to the Sea fame) spotted him hanging with other officers and shelled them.

It’s important to note that while Polk, despite graduating from West Point eighth in his class, was not a good battle tactician, he was loved by his troops. His nickname was “The Fighting Bishop” for obvious reasons, and to one Confederate private his loss was second only to Stonewall Jackson. I’m sure there are many other examples of clergymen becoming soldiers, but Polk was one of the more controversial ones.

Next in CCWN, the sagacious SYLVANUS CADWALLADER.

(source: 1) (Image credit)