Thomas James Churchill

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Thomas James Churchill
Thomas James Churchill (2).jpg
Churchill during the American Civil War
13th Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 11, 1881 – January 13, 1883
Preceded by William Miller
Succeeded by James Berry
Personal details
Born (1824-03-10)March 10, 1824
Louisville, Kentucky
Died May 14, 1905(1905-05-14) (aged 81)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Resting place Mount Holly Cemetery
Little Rock, Arkansas
34°44′16.5″N 92°16′38.6″W / 34.737917°N 92.277389°W / 34.737917; -92.277389
Political party Democratic
Military service
Allegiance  United States
 Confederate States
Service/branch United States Volunteers
Provisional Army of the Confederate States
Years of service 1846–1847 (USV)
1861–1865 (PACS)
Rank Union army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant (USV)
Confederate States of America General.png Major General (PACS)
Unit 1st Kentucky Cavalry (1846–1847)
Commands 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles
Churchill's Brigade
Churchill's Division
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Thomas James Churchill (March 10, 1824 – May 14, 1905) was a Confederate major general during the American Civil War and the 13th Governor of Arkansas.


Churchill was born near Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from St. Mary's College in Bardstown, Kentucky in 1844. He studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington.[1]

Churchill served during the Mexican-American War and rose to the rank of first lieutenant in the 1st Kentucky Mounted Rifles. He was captured by the Mexican Army and remained a prisoner of war until near the end of the conflict. In 1848, he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, married the daughter of Senator Ambrose Sevier, and became a planter. Appointed by President James Buchanan, he was postmaster of Little Rock from 1857 to 1861.

Civil War[edit]

At the start of the Civil War, Churchill offered his services to the state and was elected colonel of the 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles. His first combat took place at the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Missouri. On March 4, 1862, he was promoted to Brigadier General and soon thereafter took part in Maj. Gen. Kirby Smith's Kentucky Campaign. Churchill played an important role in the victory at Richmond, Kentucky, commanding a division of men from Texas and Arkansas. Leading his division along a ravine that became known as "Churchill's Draw" he delivered a successful and surprising flanking attack. On February 17, 1864, Churchill was cited as one of three officers to receive special recognition in a Thanks of Confederate Congress resolution for his actions at Richmond.[2]

In the latter part of 1862, Churchill was transferred back to Arkansas and placed in charge of the fortifications at Arkansas Post. In January 1863, the Post was attacked and seized in the Battle of Fort Hindman by an overwhelming Union force under Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand. After his exchange Churchill continued his service in the Trans-Mississippi Department and commanded a division during the Red River Campaign. He played a major role in the Battle of Jenkins Ferry and was promoted to Major General on March 17, 1865.[2]


In the Brooks-Baxter War in 1874, Churchill supported Baxter and helped enroll volunteers in Baxter's militia. Churchill was elected Arkansas State Treasurer in 1874, and was reelected in 1876 and 1878.

Churchill was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1881, and served until his resignation in 1883.[3]

While governor, Churchill was plagued by allegations of discrepancies in the treasurer's account from when he served as state treasurer. A special committee found a shortage in the state funds, and a lawsuit was brought against Churchill. Churchill was ordered to repay the missing funds.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Churchill died in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was buried in historic Mount Holly Cemetery with military honors.

Churchill set the standard for the pronunciation of "Arkansas."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Thomas James Churchill (1881-1883)". Old State House Museum. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Eicher, p. 173.
  3. ^ "Arkansas Governor Thomas James Churchill". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Thomas James Churchill (1824–1905)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William R. Miller
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
James Henderson Berry