Richard Griffith (general)

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Richard Griffith
Richard Griffith.jpg
Richard Griffith
Born (1814-01-11)January 11, 1814
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died June 29, 1862(1862-06-29) (aged 48)
Richmond, Virginia
Place of burial Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi
Allegiance United States United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service 1846–1847, 1861–1862
Rank Confederate States of America General.png Brigadier General
Unit Army of Northern Virginia
Commands held Griffith's Brigade

Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Other work banker, U.S. marshal, Mississippi state treasurer
Copy of the portrait of Richard Griffith that hangs in the Old Capital Museum's Mississippi Hall of Fame.

Richard Griffith (January 11, 1814 – June 29, 1862) was a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Savage's Station during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. He was one of a number of Confederate generals who were born in the North in Pennsylvania.

Early life and career[edit]

Griffith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, he moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in about 1840.[1] During the Mexican War, he served as an infantryman with the 1st Regiment of Mississippi Rifles, where he met and became friends with Colonel Jefferson Davis.

After the war, he returned to civilian life and made his living as a banker and a U.S. Marshal. He was active in state and local politics, and was elected as the State Treasurer of Mississippi in 1847. He was a member of the antebellum state militia, holding the rank of brigadier general.

His wife was Sallie Ann Whitfield, and they had four sons, including Benjamin Griffith who was mayor of Vicksburg, MS, 1905-1909.[2]

Civil War service[edit]

The burial site of Gen. Richard Griffith in Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.

When the Civil War began, Griffith was appointed as the colonel of the 12th Mississippi Infantry in May 1861. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 2 and put in command of a brigade of four Mississippi regiments that became part of Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder's division in April 1862.

He soon saw action in the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, Virginia. It was during this fighting that General Griffith was mortally wounded. On June 29, 1862, Griffith and his men were pursuing Union soldiers retreating from positions on the Nine Mile Road when they encountered elements of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner's II Corps near Savage's Station, who were guarding the Union forces' retreat. In heavy artillery fire, Griffith was wounded in his thigh by a shell fragment.[3]

When he was informed that he was fatally wounded, it is reported that General Griffith said, "If only I could have led my brigade through this battle, I would have died satisfied." Griffith was taken to Richmond, but succumbed to his wounds the same day. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.


The loss of General Griffith was much lamented by many, including his long-time friend Jefferson Davis. Of the fighting at Savage's Station he wrote, "Our loss was small in numbers, but great in value. Among others who could ill be spared, here fell the gallant soldier, the useful citizen, the true friend and Christian gentleman, Brigadier General Richard Griffith. He had served with distinction in foreign war, and, when the South was invaded, was among the first to take up arms in defense of our rights."[4]

Later in the war, a group of soldier-musicians called "The McLaws Minstrels," serving under Lafayette McLaws and formerly under General Griffith, would play at a theater in Fredericksburg. They charged a modest admission fee, the proceeds from which were used to erect a monument in the Mississippi State Capitol in honor of their fallen commander.[5]

His portrait hangs in Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, and a copy of that portrait hangs in the Mississippi Hall of Fame in the Old Capitol Museum.[6] Three blocks from the museum, East and West Griffith Streets are named after him.

See also[edit]

Griffith's widow, Sallie Ann Whitfield, their son Benjamin (mayor of Vicksburg), his wife Cora and their seven children.


  1. ^ Information, Public (2009-01-09). "Mississippi Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-01-27. 
  2. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Griffing to Grime". Retrieved 2017-01-27. 
  3. ^ Smith, Derek (2005). The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0132-8. 
  4. ^ Davis, Jefferson (1881). The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. University of Michigan: D. Appleton and Co. 
  5. ^ Sears, Stephen W. (1998). Chancellorsville. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-87744-X. 
  6. ^ Information, Public (2009-01-09). "Mississippi Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-01-27. 


  • Davis, Jefferson (1881). The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. University of Michigan: D. Appleton and Co.
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Sears, Stephen W. (1998). Chancellorsville. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-87744-X.
  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
  • Smith, Derek (2005). The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0132-8.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William Clark
Treasurer of Mississippi
Succeeded by
William Clark