Benjamin G. Humphreys

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Benjamin Humphreys
26th Governor of Mississippi
In office
October 16, 1865 – June 15, 1868
Preceded byWilliam L. Sharkey
Succeeded byAdelbert Ames
Member of the Mississippi Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1808-08-26)August 26, 1808
Claiborne County, Mississippi Territory, U.S.
DiedDecember 20, 1882(1882-12-20) (aged 74)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Military service
AllegianceUnited States United States
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Branch/service Confederate States Army
Years of service1861–65
Rank Brigadier General
Commands21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment
Humphreys' Brigade
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Benjamin Grubb Humphreys (August 26, 1808 – December 20, 1882) was an American politician from Mississippi. He was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and served as Governor of Mississippi from 1865 to 1868, during Reconstruction.

Early life[edit]

Humphreys was born in Claiborne County in the Territory of Mississippi, on the Bayou Pierre. He was educated in New Jersey and enrolled at United States Military Academy in the same class as Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston. However, he was expelled in 1826 when he participated in a "Christmas frolic" that ended up turning into the Eggnog Riot.

Upon his return to Mississippi, he was elected to the state senate representing his native county, serving from 1839 to 1844. In 1846, he moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi, and founded Itta Bena. He developed a cotton plantation there.

Civil War[edit]

During the American Civil War, Humphreys raised a company and was commissioned a captain in the Confederate States Army in 1861. Part of the 21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment, he was elected to the rank of colonel the same year and brigaded with other regiments under the command of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale in the Eastern Theater. At the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Humphreys's regiment was part of the force that attacked U.S. Army positions at the Peach Orchard, driving the U.S. soldiers back toward Cemetery Ridge. Humphreys took command of the brigade after the death of Barksdale. He was subsequently promoted to brigadier general,[1] and remained in command until he was wounded in the battle of Berryville, Virginia, on September 3, 1864. Humphreys returned home to Mississippi to heal but could not return to active duty before the war ended.

Political career[edit]

After the Confederate States Army surrendered and the Confederate government dissolved, secessionist politicians and military officers were not automatically pardoned. They were forbidden to hold public office in the United States. Benjamin Humphreys was unpardoned when he announced his candidacy for Mississippi governor, and President Andrew Johnson did not want him elected. Unwilling to withdraw his candidacy, on October 2, 1865, Humphreys was elected as a Democrat but was not immediately recognized as the Governor of Mississippi. Without presidential approval, on October 16, 1865, Humphreys had himself inaugurated and sworn in as the 26th Governor of Mississippi. By October 26, 1865, Mississippi provisional Governor, William L. Sharkey, received from President Andrew Johnson a pardon authorizing political office under the Reconstruction plan. Humphreys won re-election in 1868 and continued with a second term. Nevertheless, with the beginning of Congressional control of Reconstruction, he was physically removed by occupying U.S. Armed Forces on June 15, 1868.[2]

As a Democratic Governor of the State of Mississippi, he sympathized with the ideology of White supremacy. In his own words:

The Negro is free, whether we like it or not; we must realize that fact now and forever. To be free, however, does not make him a citizen, or entitle him to political or social equality with the white race.

After he retired from politics, Humphreys entered a career in insurance in Jackson, Mississippi. He continued there until his retirement in 1877, when he moved to his plantation in Leflore County, Mississippi, where he died in 1882. He is buried in Wintergreen Cemetery, Port Gibson, Mississippi.[3]

Humphreys County, Mississippi, is named after him. His son, Benjamin G. Humphreys II, entered into his own political career. He became a member of Congress and was on the Harbors and Rivers Committee, where he was instrumental in the successful amendment that created and added levees to the commission's charter.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pfanz, p. 457.
  2. ^ Eicher, p. 309, lists his position as Provisional Governor.
  3. ^ Eicher, p. 309.


  • McKitrick, Eric L. "Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction". New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-505707-4
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Pfanz, Harry W. Gettysburg – The Second Day. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. ISBN 0-8078-1749-X.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
  • Mississippi History
  • History Central
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Mississippi
Title next held by
John Marshall Stone
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by