Van H. Manning
Vannoy Hartrog (Van) Manning (July 26, 1839 – November 3, 1892) was an attorney, an officer in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War, reaching the rank of colonel; and a politician. In 1876, he was elected to the US House of Representatives from Mississippi's 6th congressional district as a Democrat, serving from 1877 to 1883 after re-election. His election in 1882 was contested by his opponent, James R. Chalmers, running on a fusion ticket. Congress decided in Chalmers' favor and seated him in June 1884.
Early life and education
Born in 1839 near Raleigh, North Carolina, Vannoy Hartrog Manning moved as a child in 1841 with his parents to Mississippi. He attended the private school, Horn Lake Male Academy, in De Soto County in the Mississippi Delta.
Manning attended the University of Nashville in Tennessee, where he studied law. After graduation, he and his wife Mary Wallace moved to Arkansas in 1860. He was admitted to the Arkansas bar in 1861 and commenced practice in Hamburg.
Marriage and family
Manning married Mary Wallace of Holly Springs. Their firstborn son died in January 1861 after their move to Arkansas. The second born, Levi Howell Manning, later was elected mayor of Tucson, Arizona. Van and Mary had a total of four sons and four daughters.
Service during the Civil War
In May 1861, Manning and Dr. W.H. Tebbs recruited and organized the 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment, drawing from soldiers recruited in Ashley, Drew, Union, Dallas and Hot Spring counties. The regiment made up a total of eleven companies, and included one company of recruits from other parts of Arkansas as well as recruits from Tennessee and Kentucky.
They marched to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they were initially turned down for service as a part of the Confederate Army. Manning gained the assistance of Arkansas politician Albert Rust, and the regiment was accepted as part of the army. Rust was commissioned as colonel, and sent to Lynchburg, Virginia for training. The 3rd Arkansas was assigned to General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, after which it took part in almost every major eastern battle.
Tebbs and Manning both served as captains. Later Manning was promoted to colonel of the 3rd Arkansas, following Rust's being promoted to Brigadier General. Manning was wounded at the battles of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Gettysburg and The Wilderness.
Manning's reputation for heroism in battle became well known. He was cited in official reports for his actions during the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Gettysburg. Reporting on him at Antietam, Confederate General John G. Walker, wrote as follows;
"Colonel Manning, with the 46th and 48th North Carolina and 30th Virginia, not content with possession of the woods, dashed forward in gallant style, crossed the open fields beyond, driving the enemy back before him like sheep, until, arriving at a long line of strong post and rail fences, behind which heavy masses of the enemies infantry were lying, their advance was checked, and it being impossible to climb these fences under such fire, these regiments, after suffering a heavy loss, were compelled to fall back..."
"Just before the falling back of these regiments, the gallant Colonel Manning was severely wounded and was compelled to leave the field, relinquishing the command of the brigade to the next rank, Colonel E.D. Hall, of the 46th North Carolina Regiment."
"...The division suffered heavily, particularly Manning's command (Walker's Brigade), which at one time sustained almost the whole fire of the enemies right wing. Going into the engagement, as it was necessary for us to do, to support the sorely pressed divisions of Hood and Early, it was, of course, impossible to make dispositions based upon careful reconnaissance of the localities. The post and rail fences stretching across the fields lying between us and the enemies position, I regard as the fatal obstacle to complete our success on the left, and success there would be, doubtless, have changed the fate of the day. Of the existence of this obstacle none of my division had any previous knowledge, and we learned it at the expense of many valuable lives."
Manning was later commended again for gallantry, during the Battle of Gettysburg, by Brigadier General Jerome B. Robertson of the Texas Brigade, to which the 3rd Arkansas had been attached. In that action, Robertson's brigade had been ordered forward to attack and secure Devil's Den. The 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas regiments, alongside the 3rd Arkansas, did so at great cost, taking heavy casualties but securing their objective. Robertson gave much of the credit for this success to Manning's leadership in the field. Manning was wounded toward the end of that engagement, after helping his regiment hold under overwhelming odds. He was later wounded for a third time and captured during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia in 1864. Manning was held as a prisoner of war by Union forces until the end of the war. When the war ended, only 144 of his 3rd Arkansas soldiers remained of 1,353 mustered into it at the start of the war.
Entry into politics
After the war, Manning returned with his family to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he resumed the practice of law. In 1876 as the Democrats regained control of the state, he was elected as a Democrat from Mississippi's 6th congressional district to the Forty-fifth, followed by re-election to the Forty-sixth, and Forty-seventh Congresses, serving from March 4, 1877–March 3, 1883.
In 1883 he presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-eighth Congress but was contested by his opponent James R. Chalmers, who had run on a fusion ticket supported by Republicans and Greenbacks. Manning resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1883. On June 25, 1884, Congress awarded the seat to Chalmers.
- Allen, Paul (May 5, 2005). "Early Mayor Levi Manning left lucrative legend". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
- Van H. Manning at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-02-13
- Col. Van H. Manning
- History of the 3rd Arkansas
- 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment
- Brig. Gen. J.B. Robertson, after action report, Devil's Den
- "For Ninety Nine Years or the War" The Story of the 3rd Arkansas at Gettysburg
- Arkansas Civil War Soldiers Index