Benjamin McCulloch - Facts

November 11, 1811 - March 7, 1862

Facts about Confederate General Benjamin McCulloch who died at the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.

Portrait of Benjamin McCulloch

On March 7, 1862, during the Battle of Pea Ridge, a gunshot wound to the chest knocked Benjamin McCulloch from his saddle, piercing his heart and killing him instantly. [Wikimedia Commons]

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Full Name:

  • Benjamin McCulloch

Birth Date:

  • November 11, 1811

Birth Location:

  • Rutherford County, Tennessee

Parents:

  • Alexander and Frances F. (LeNoir) McCulloch

Education:

  • No formal education

Occupation:

  • Surveyor
  • Texas Ranger
  • military officer

Career Summary:

  • Brigadier General (CSA)

Spouse:

  • None

Nickname:

  • “Ol’ Ben”

Place of Death:

  • Benton County, Arkansas

Date of Death:

  • March 7, 1862

Place of Burial:

  • Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas

Significance:

  • Benjamin McCulloch was the fourth of thirteen children born to Alexander and Frances F. (LeNoir) McCulloch.
  • Benjamin McCulloch was the older brother of Confederate General Henry Eustace McCulloch.
  • Benjamin McCulloch and his family were close friends with famed frontiersman and U.S. Congressman David Crockett.
  • A bout with the measles delayed Benjamin McCulloch’s plans to meet Davy Crockett at the Alamo and, undoubtedly, saved his life.
  • During the War for Texas Independence, Benjamin McCulloch commanded one of two Texas cannons (known as the Twin Sisters) at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, before joining in the victorious last charge against Santa Anna’s forces.
  • Benjamin McCulloch’s bravery at the Battle of San Jacinto won him a battlefield commission as a first lieutenant in the Texas Militia on April 22, 1836.
  • Benjamin McCulloch served one term in the legislature of the Texas Republic from 1839 to 1841.
  • In 1841, Benjamin McCulloch suffered a debilitating bullet wound during a duel that cost him full use of his right arm for the rest of his life.
  • In 1840, Benjamin McCulloch joined the Texas Rangers.
  • After Texas joined the Union in 1845, Benjamin McCulloch served in the Texas State Legislature from 1846–1847.
  • In 1846, Benjamin McCulloch was appointed major general in the Texas State Militia and was charged with commanding all troops west of the Colorado River.
  • During the Mexican-American War, Benjamin McCulloch served as chief of scouts for General Zachary Taylor’s Army of Occupation, taking part in the American victory at the Battle of Monterrey (September 21–24, 1846).
  • Benjamin McCulloch’s scouting achievements prior to the Battle of Buena Vista (February 23, 1847) won him a promotion to the rank of major of United States volunteers.
  • After the Mexican-American War ended, Benjamin McCulloch briefly served as a scout for General David E. Twiggs’ U.S. forces in Texas.
  • In 1849, Benjamin McCulloch headed west during the California Gold Rush.
  • In 1850, voters elected Benjamin McCulloch as sheriff of Sacramento County in California.
  • In 1851, U.S. President Franklin Pierce appointed Benjamin McCulloch as a U.S. Marshal in the Eastern District of Texas.
  • In 1858, U.S. President James Buchanan selected Benjamin McCulloch as one of two emissaries representing the administration during negotiations with Mormon elders during the mostly-bloodless Utah War.
  • After Texas seceded from the Union in February 1861, a committee of public safety established by the state’s secession convention commissioned Benjamin McCulloch as a colonel of the Texas militia.
  • On February 16, 1861, Benjamin McCulloch forced Major General David E. Twiggs to surrender the federal arsenal and his garrison at the Alamo.
  • Benjamin McCulloch received a commission as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army on May 11, 1861.
  • Benjamin McCulloch’s commission in 1861 made him the second-ranking brigadier general in the Confederate army and the first general officer commissioned from the civilian populace.
  • Benjamin McCulloch took part in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861.
  • On March 7, 1862, a gunshot wound to the chest knocked Benjamin McCulloch from his saddle, piercing his heart and killing him instantly.
  • Peter Pelican, a sharpshooter from the 36th Illinois Infantry, took credit for the fatal shot that killed Benjamin McCulloch but his claim was never substantiated.
  • On March 10, 1862, Confederate officials hosted a full military funeral for Benjamin McCulloch at Fort Smith where his body was temporarily buried.
  • Following a second funeral on April 12, 1862, Benjamin McCulloch was buried at his final resting place at Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Benjamin McCulloch - Facts
  • Coverage November 11, 1811 - March 7, 1862
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 2, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021

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