Thomas James Churchill

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Thomas James Churchill
Bust portrait of General Thomas James Churchill.jpg
Churchill in uniform, ca. 1862
13th Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 12, 1881 – January 13, 1883
Preceded byWilliam R. Miller
Succeeded byJames H. Berry
16th Treasurer of Arkansas
In office
November 12, 1874 – January 12, 1881
Preceded byRobert C. Newton
Succeeded byWilliam E. Woodruff, Jr.
14th Postmaster of Little Rock
In office
September 11, 1857 – March 27, 1861
Nominated byJames Buchanan
Preceded byJohn E. Reardon
Succeeded byWilliam F. Pope
Personal details
Born(1824-03-10)March 10, 1824
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedMay 14, 1905(1905-05-14) (aged 81)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Resting placeMount Holly Cemetery,
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
34°44′15.3″N 92°16′42.5″W / 34.737583°N 92.278472°W / 34.737583; -92.278472
Political partyDemocratic
Anna M. Sevier (m. 1849)
RelationsAmbrose H. Sevier (father-in-law)
Military service
Allegiance United States
 Confederate States
Branch/serviceUnited States Volunteers
 Confederate States Army
Years of service1846–1847 (USV)
1861–1865 (CSA)
RankUnion army 1st lt rank insignia.jpg First Lieutenant (USV)
Confederate States of America General-collar.svg Major-General (CSA)
Unit1st Kentucky Cavalry
Battles/warsMexican–American War (POW)
American Civil War

Thomas James Churchill (March 10, 1824 – May 14, 1905) was an American politician who served as the 13th governor of Arkansas from 1881 to 1883. Prior to that, he was a senior officer of the Confederate States Army who commanded infantry in the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters of the American Civil War.

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas James Churchill was born near Louisville, Kentucky.[a] He graduated from St. Mary's College in Bardstown in 1844, then studied law at Transylvania University in Lexington. He served during the Mexican War, rising to the rank of first lieutenant in the 1st Kentucky Mounted Rifles. He was captured by the Mexicans and remained a prisoner of war until near the end of that conflict. In 1848, he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, married the daughter of United States Senator Ambrose H. Sevier, and became a planter. Appointed by President James Buchanan, he served as postmaster from September 1857 to March 1861.[1]

American 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]

Later life[edit]

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] He died in Little Rock and was buried in historic Mount Holly Cemetery with military honors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ His older sister was Abigail Prather Churchill (1817-1852), wife of Meriwether Lewis Clark Sr. (1809-1881).


  1. ^ "Postmaster Finder". United States Postal Service. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Eicher, John H.; Eicher, David J. (2001). Civil War High Commands. Foreword by John Y. Simon. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. OCLC 928433486. OL 6210070W.
  3. ^ "Gov. Thomas James Churchill". National Governors Association. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  4. ^ "Thomas James Churchill (1824–1905)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved May 30, 2019.

External links[edit]