Category: Cool Civil War Names

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.

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Jasper Adalmorn Maltby

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

“A friend of Grant’s is a friend of mine,” said Abraham Lincoln, probably. This quote (were it real) holds true today as we consider Jasper Maltby, an Ohio boy who like 99.9% of the Civil War upper echelon served in the Mexican War in the 1840s, and then moved to Galena, the stomping grounds of pre-glory Ulysses Grant. The Civil War erupted while working there as a gunsmith, leading him to join the 45th Illinois Volunteers, aka the “Washburn Lead Mine Regiment.” He was immediately bumped up from private to lieutenant colonel, which seems like a huge jump. Was Maltby really that awesome, or did they just throw out commissions like hardtack back then?

Regardless, Maltby fought with the 45th at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Vickburg, accumulating promotions and wounds concurrently. Also happening concurrently was the service of Jasper’s younger brother, William, who was a Confederate captain and prisoner of war. In one of those meta “civil war within the Civil War” situations, when Jasper found out his brother was imprisoned, he arranged for him to be brought to the newly conquered Vicksburg and placed under his charge. “Love you bro, so much so that I get to order you around again!”

Jasper served out the war in Vicksburg and remained there postbellum as the military mayor until he died in 1867 from yellow fever or cardiac arrest, or from having a too-massive beard. Seriously, look at that thing!

Up next on CCWN, the flip-flopping Amos T. Akerman.

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Robert Barnwell Rhett

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

We’ve got ourselves a good ol’ fashioned fire-eater here. And like fire itself, this brand of demagogue was a useful tool only until it burned its wielder.

A lawyer by trade, Rhett entered public service in 1826 as a South Carolina state legislator and continued as state attorney general, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator. Rhett came out loudly against President Jackson’s “Tariff of Abominations” in the 1830s, pushing secession before acceding to a “tyrannical” government:

Aye – disunion, rather, into a thousand fragments. And why, gentlemen! would I prefer disunion to such a Government? Because under such a Government I would be a slave – a fearful slave, ruled despotically by those who do not represent me … with every base and destructive passion of man bearing upon my shieldless destiny.

This, mind you, coming from a man who owned actual slaves. Rhett pushed for secession so hard that even John “Slavery Is A Positive Good” Calhoun wasn’t radical enough for him, which is like someone calling Ron Paul a moderate. But as this great New York Times profile of Rhett shows, that wasn’t even the guy’s best stuff. Through the Charleston Mercury, a newspaper he owned that was run by his son, Rhett spewed all kinds of obloquial, borderline slanderous “Rhett-oric” at Lincoln, Hannibal Hamlin, and the African slaves.

His secessionist dreams finally materialized in 1860 when South Carolina disunited itself after Lincoln’s election, prompting Rhett to help convene the Montgomery Convention that established the Confederate government and made Rhett a delegate. But like many a fire-eater who runs head first into the messy business of governing, Rhett soon became disillusioned by Jefferson Davis’ administration (Not seceded enough! Not fighting the Union enough! Wah!) and I’m guessing pretty pissed off by the war’s outcome. Though probably not as pissed off as dying from facial cancer in 1876.

Up next on CCWN, the traveled T. Morris Chester.

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William Clarke Quantrill

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

If someone made a movie about William Quantrill, he’d be sorta like Lt. Aldo Raines from Inglourious Basterds but a Confederate instead of U.S. Army and probably not as funny and killing civilians instead of Nazis. (Tarantino film coming in 3…2…) Originally a schoolteacher in Ohio, Quantrill toiled for a bit in low-paying jobs, his family saddled with debt after his father died. As a teenager he took up gambling in Salt Lake City and got handy with a knife and rifle before returning to Kansas where he quickly turned to the life of a brigand, earning money through noble affairs like capturing runaway slaves cattle raiding. It was during this time when his erstwhile anti-slavery views soured quickly toward Confederate sympathy.

At the war’s start in 1861, Quantrill joined up with Joel B. Mayes, a Cherokee chief and Confederate major who taught Quantrill the Native American-inspired guerrilla warfare techniques he’d later employ to a deadly degree. He fought for awhile, but soon spun off his own guerrilla band of bushwhackers later known as the Missouri Partisan Rangers, aka “Quantrill’s Raiders.” The group made its infamous name in Lawrence, Kansas, hotspot of Union activity, when it raided the town to avenge the deaths of some the Raiders’ kin in a Union prison. They executed 183 men and boys from age 14 to 90, looting the town bank and making off to Texas, where the group split off into smaller companies.

Quantrill’s last stand came in Kentucky in 1865 when he and a few remaining Raiders were killed in a raid, meeting at ignominious end at the age of 27. But his legacy lived on through one of his ex-Rangers named Jesse James, who used Quantrill’s hit-and-run tactics in bank robberies to great “success.” There also was established the William Clarke Quantrill Society, which is dedicated to “the study of the Border War and the War of Northern Aggression on the Missouri-Kansas border with an emphasis on the lives of Quantrill, his men, his supporters, his adversaries, and the resulting historical record.” In the South, the Civil War is known as the War of Northern Aggression; this may be my Yankeeness talking, but in Quantrill’s case the aggression was all his.

Up next in CCWN, the riled-up Robert Barnwell Rhett.

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Thurlow Weed

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy, for better or worse, was like the Karl Rove of his time. The sources differ on the details about his life, but we know that before he turned into the Turd Blossom of the mid-19th century Weed apprenticed as a printer and editor of various New York newspapers during the 1820s, which got him interested in politics. No fan of Andrew Jackson, Weed supported John Quincy Adams in 1824 and even won himself a seat in the New York State Assembly, where he met future bigwig William Seward.

It’s then when Weed latched on to the Anti-Masonic movement (largely due to Jackson being a Mason). The movement dissipated in the ’30s, but was eventually folded into the more mainstream Whig Party, which was bolstered by Weed’s Albany Evening Journal throughout the ’30s and ’40s. Between his journalistic and political endeavors, Weed made a lot of friends and a lot deals – so much so that his adversaries nicknamed him the “Lucifer of the Lobby” (a pretty killer nickname).

As the Whigs dissolved into the nascent Republican Party, so did Weed. When the 1860 election came around, Weed’s old buddy Seward was the frontrunner but may have been screwed by his relationship with Weed, who some Republican delegates that were former Democrats were in hate with. Of course, that scraggly, rangy lawyer from Springfield then swooped in, got the nod, became president, etc.

Being the pragmatic man he was, Weed jumped on the Abe Bandwagon and even served as a European envoy during the war – after which he returned to newspapering before slowly fading from the public view and dying in 1882.

Up next on CCWN, the querulous WILLIAM CLARKE QUANTRILL.

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Gouverneur Kemble Warren

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy had what you could call a complicated relationship with the Civil War. Before that, though, he graduated from West Point (duh) in 1850, second in his class, and joined the Corps of Topographical Engineers as a brevet 2nd lieutenant. As part of the transcontinental railroad surveys, Warren helped create one of the first comprehensive maps of the western United States, which led him through a big chunk of the unsettled Nebraska Territory before the war.

But at the outset of aforementioned war, Warren was back at West Point as a mathematics instructor when he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 5th New York Infantry. (Sidenote: can you imagine your college math professor leading a infantry regiment into battle?). Promoted to colonel in due haste, Warren and his warriors saw action at the Siege of Yorktown, the Seven Days Battles (where Warren was shot in the knee), the Second Bull Run, and Antietam.

A statue of Warren that sits atop Little Round Top at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania.

But it was Gettysburg that put a feather in his cap: “realizing the importance” of the Union’s exposed flank at Little Round Top, Warren earned acclaim and a promotion for his part in the defense of that hill on the second day of battle (today being its 149th anniversary). The rest of the war, however, wasn’t as nice to ol’ Gouv. General Philip Sheridan, notoriously fiery and impetuous, removed Warren from command after his regiment didn’t move as quickly as he wanted. Because Sheridan was BFFs with General (and soon-to-be President) Grant, Warren couldn’t do anything but resign his commission after the war and wait until Grant died to get official exoneration from wrongdoing.

As a final insult, Warren died, at 52, before the final report was published.

Up next on CCWN, the thickly political THURLOW WEED.

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Jubal Early

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

There’s so much Civil War in this guy it makes me want to cry. “Old Jube” (as Robert E. Lee would later come to call him) and his brawny beard fought early and often in the war between the states, but for reasons you wouldn’t suspect from an eventual Southern fire-breather. But before all that silly war stuff, Early graduated from West Point in 1837 ranked eighteenth (like his Union counterpart Rufus Saxton) in his class of fifty. After a brief stint in an artillery regiment, Early took up law for a while before returning to the military for the Mexican War.

But when the war drums started beating in his home state of Virginia, Early was an unlikely opponent of secession; that is until Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to fight the South—that pissed him off mightily. Soon Brigadier General Early was on a greatest hits tour of all the key battles: Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg. He even spearheaded a Lee-ordered run on Washington D.C., which was eventually swatted back by General Grant’s reinforcements. The rest of the war was downhill for Early: defeated by Sheridan, he fled to Mexico and then to Canada, where he wrote his “Lost Cause” tinged memoirs about the “war of independence.”

Lucky for Early, upon his arrival back in the States the Southern-sympathizing President Johnson issued him a pardon, which allowed him to resume his law career.

Up next on CCWN, the glory-bound GOUVERNEUR KEMBLE WARREN.

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Rufus Saxton

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

Saxton was, in the argot of youth, the bomb diggity. A Massachusetts native, his father was a transcendentalist, feminist, and abolitionist, which helped form Rufus’ anti-slavery sentiments from a young age. He graduated from West Point eighteenth in this class, then spent the rest of his antebellum days fighting the Seminoles in Florida, teaching at West Point, and surveying the Rocky Mountains for the Northern Pacific Railroad with none other than Mr. It’s-Everyone-Else’s-Fault, George McClellan.

And then, as the future Great Emancipator said, the war came. Saxton joined up with McClellan’s staff until partaking in what would become a pivotal moment in his career: leading a defense as brigadier general at Harper’s Ferry to push back Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah campaign. Saxton would receive the Medal of Honor for his work there, specifically for “distinguished gallantry and good conduct in the defense.”

But he didn’t stop there. Tasked with raising the first regiment of liberated slaves, Saxton put together the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers and helped organize the post-Emancipation recruitment of black soldiers. He continued along this line of work until the war ended, after which he gradually moved up the ranks before retiring to Massachusetts a colonel and all-around cool guy.

Up next in CCWN, the je ne sais quoi JUBAL EARLY.

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Samuel C. Pomeroy

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

You get the feeling like this guy was the Mitt Romney of the Civil War era, because he did some good things but then kept managing to screw himself over. Born in Massachusetts, he served in the state House of Representatives for one year before joining ranks with the anti-slavery movement. But he wasn’t some foot soldier; after the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was passed he up and moved to Kansas as part of the abolition crusade and employee of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. He also served as a town mayor and helped out with famine relief in 1861.

If only he’d stopped there. Because throughout the ’50s and through the Civil War as well, Pomeroy got involved in a lot of shady investment deals with railroads, coal mines, bridges, etc., so much so that the 1860 federal census in Kansas called him “The Speculator.” The problem with all this is when he tried to run for Senate, he’d already made a lot of enemies. Money quote from one of those enemies, John Ingalls: “If abdomen was a test he [Pomeroy] would be sure to triumph, but as brains enter into the contest some what, his chances are small.”

Still, he was selected in 1861 and served until 1873 when he was accused of buying votes in the legislature and replaced as senator by none other than John Ingalls. Ouch.

The man lives on, though, as the fictionalized inspiration for a corrupt politician in Mark Twain’s The Guilded Age. Can’t get much better than Mark Twain, right?

Up next in CCWN, the stouthearted RUFUS SAXTON.

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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. 

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