John George Walker

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For other people named John Walker, see John Walker (disambiguation).
John George Walker
John George Walker c1862.jpg
Born (1821-07-22)July 22, 1821
Jefferson City, Missouri
Died July 20, 1893(1893-07-20) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia
Allegiance United States United States of America
Confederate States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service 1846–61 (USA)
1861–65 (CSA)
Rank Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg Captain (USA)
Confederate States of America General.png Major General (CSA)
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
- Battle of San Juan de los Llanos
- Battle of Molino del Rey
Apache Wars
- Battle of the Diablo Mountains
American Civil War
- Peninsula Campaign
- Battle of Malvern Hill
- Battle of South Mountain
- Battle of Antietam
- Siege of Vicksburg
- Battle of Milliken's Bend
- Red River Campaign
- Battle of Mansfield
- Battle of Pleasant Hill
- Battle of Jenkins' Ferry

John George Walker (July 22, 1821 – July 20, 1893[1]) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served as a brigadier under Jackson and Longstreet, before commanding a Texan division in the Trans-Mississippi Department, known as Walker’s Greyhounds for their speed and agility. He was ordered to disrupt Grant’s supply-line opposite Vicksburg, but Grant had managed to cross to the East bank, and Walker was reduced to minor operations, one of them against some of the first African-American troops to serve in battle. He was able to make a bigger contribution to the Red River campaign, in support of General Richard Taylor.

Early life and military career[edit]

Walker was born in Jefferson City, Missouri.[2] He grew up in the Saint Louis, Missouri, area and graduated from the predecessor to Washington University in 1844.

Walker joined the United States Army as a first lieutenant of the Regiment of Mounted Rifles in 1846, and served with distinction in the Mexican-American War, where he was breveted to captain for San Juan de los Llanos and was wounded at Molino del Rey. He was promoted to the full rank of captain June 1851. He remained in the Army until July 1861, when he joined the Confederate States Army as a major in the cavalry.

Civil War[edit]

Service in the East[edit]

Walker was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 8th Texas Cavalry in August 1861, where he served in the Department of North Carolina. In September 1861, he was promoted to colonel.

In January 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general and served in the Peninsula Campaign in the division of Brig. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes, where he was wounded at Malvern Hill. His division occupied Loudoun Heights, overlooking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia before its garrison surrendered to Stonewall Jackson on September 15, 1862. He served under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet at South Mountain and Antietam.

Trans-Mississippi[edit]

In November 1862, Walker was promoted to major general and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department, where he was given command of 12 Texas regiments, numbering 12,000 men, training at Camp Nelson in Arkansas. Walker formed the regiments into a Division, which earned the nickname "Walker's Greyhounds" for their ability to move quickly over many miles on foot. From November 1862 until the end of the war, the Greyhounds were formed exclusively of soldiers from Texas, and did not leave the Trans-Mississippi Department.

In March 1863, the new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith, assigned the Greyhounds to Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's Western Louisiana command, and they were given the task of attacking Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's supply line that ran on the western bank of the Mississippi River on the Louisiana side opposite the besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Grant, having recently moved his supply lines to the eastern banks of the Mississippi, was not harmed by the attack of Walker's Greyhounds. Hawes's Brigade was engaged in combat against the Federals at the Battle of Young's Point, and McCullough's Brigade fought African-American Union troops at the Battle of Milliken's Bend on June 6, 1863. This was one of the first times African-American troops engaged in combat. The troops fought bravely, but poorly trained, suffered heavy casualties at the hands of Walker's men. The battle became a Union victory when Federal gunboats supported the Union troops, driving McCullough's Brigade back.

Taylor, who commanded Walker in this campaign, had argued against the venture to his superior Smith. He argued that Walker's troops would be better used helping his Army of 4,000 attack New Orleans, whose defense had been severely weakened by the movement of Banks' Army of the Gulf upriver to Port Hudson.

After Milliken's Bend, Taylor again requested Walker's troops to aid in his attack on New Orleans, but Smith again denied the request. Walker spent the balance of the summer fruitlessly patrolling the northeastern area of Louisiana, unable to cross the Mississippi and support the besieged Vicksburg.

Walker headed back to Arkansas in late 1863, but in March 1864, joined Taylor once again in Alexandria to help Taylor defend against the advances of Nathaniel P. Banks and his Army of the Gulf in the Red River Campaign. Walker's troops played a critical role in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864.[3] Rather than leave Walker's Greyhounds with Taylor as he sought to capture the retreating Banks, Smith sent Walker north to fight Union General Frederick Steele. Walker engaged Steele at the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry on April 30, 1864, about 30 miles south of Little Rock, Arkansas.

As Steele fled northward after the battle, clearly not intending to join Banks in his attempt to capture Shreveport, Louisiana, Walker reversed course and headed back south to join Taylor's pursuit of Banks. He arrived in Alexandria on May 23, 1864, the same day that Banks's retreating Army was being picked up by Federal troop transports at Simmesport.

District of Western Louisiana[edit]

When Taylor was given command of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and Eastern Louisiana in August 1864, Walker was given command of his former superior's District of Western Louisiana. By the end of the war, he had been transferred further west, and commanded the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Postbellum career[edit]

At the close of the Civil War, Walker fled to Mexico, where he remained for several years. Returning to the United States, he later served as the United States Consul in Bogotá, Colombia, and as a Special Commissioner to the Pan-American Convention.

Walker died in Washington, D.C. He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Lowe, Richard G.,Walker's Texas Division, C.S.A: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi, Louisiana State University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8071-2933-X.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Eicher, p. 549. Birth and death dates are taken from Walker's tombstone. Alternative dates for birth and death are July 22, 1822, and July 21, 1893.
  2. ^ Eicher, p. 549.
  3. ^ John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, pp. 340-347