Portrait of Francis Herron

On September 26, 1893, thirty-one years after the Battle of Pea Ridge, Congress awarded Francis J. Herron the Medal of Honor, noting that he “Was foremost in leading his men, rallying them to repeated acts of daring, until himself disabled and taken prisoner” during the decisive Union victory. [Wikimedia Commons]

Francis Jay Herron - Facts

February 17, 1837 - January 8, 1902

Key facts about Major General Francis J. Herron, a prominent Union officer who served in the Trans-Mississippi and Western Theaters of the American Civil War and commanded the Army of the Frontier in 1863.

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Birth Date:

  • February 17, 1837

Birth Location:

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • John and Clarissa (Anderson) Herron

Education:

  • Briefly attended the Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh)

Occupation:

  • Banker
  • Army officer

Career Summary:

  • Major General U.S. Volunteer Army
  • Commander of the Army of the Frontier

Spouse:

  • Adelaide Sophia Flash (Wibray)

Place of Death:

  • New York City

Date of Death:

  • January 8, 1902

Place of Burial:

  • Calvary Cemetery, Long Island, New York

Significance:

  • Francis J. Herron was the third child of John and Clarissa (Anderson) Herron.
  • John Herron was a prosperous pioneer businessman, contractor, lumberman, and coal mine owner in western Pennsylvania.
  • Francis J. Herron briefly attended the Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh).
  • At the age of sixteen, Francis J. Herron left the Western University of Pennsylvania without completing his degree to join the banking firm of Herron & Brothers in Pittsburgh.
  • In 1855, Herron moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he established a bank with his brothers.
  • In 1859, Francis J. Herron helped organize a militia company in Iowa known as the “Governor’s Grays.”
  • In May 1861, Francis J. Herron and the “Governor’s Grays” joined the U.S. Volunteer Army as Company 1 of the First Iowa Infantry.
  • Francis J. Herron took part in the Union defeat at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861.
  • At the end of his three-month enlistment, Francis J. Herron joined the 9th Iowa Volunteer Regiment at the rank of lieutenant colonel on September 24, 1861.
  • During the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas (March 7 – 8, 1862), Confederate troops captured Francis J. Herron after his horse was shot from under him and his leg was broken at the ankle as he was rallying his troops.
  • Francis J. Herron was imprisoned at Van Buren, Arkansas, until he was exchanged on March 20, 1862.
  • Francis J. Herron was promoted to brigadier general, effective July 16, 1862, (General Orders, No. 93: U.S. War Department, August 2, 1862).
  • On September 26, 1893, thirty-one years after the Battle of Pea Ridge, Congress awarded Francis J. Herron the Medal of Honor, noting that he “Was foremost in leading his men, rallying them to repeated acts of daring, until himself disabled and taken prisoner” during the decisive Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge.
  • On August 21, 1862, the U.S. Army issued Special Orders, No. 200 directing Francis J. Herron to report to Brigadier General John M. Schofield, commanding District of the Missouri, in Saint Louis.
  • In September 1862, Brigadier General John M. Schofield, commanding the Army of the Frontier, named Francis J. Herron to lead the army’s third division.
  • In early December 1862, Francis J. Herron ordered the second and third divisions of the Army of the Frontier) on a forced march of over 110 miles in three days to come to the aid of Blunt’s division and cementing a Federal victory at the Battle of Prairie Grove (December 7, 1862).
  • On December 28, 1862, Francis J. Herron’s command took part in the Union victory at Battle of Van Buren, solidifying Federal control of Northwest Arkansas.
  • On January 16, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Francis J. Herron as major general in the volunteer army (to date from November 29, 1862) pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
  • On March 7, 1863, the U.S. Senate confirmed Francis J. Herron’s appointment to major general (to date from November 29, 1862).
  • On March 30, 1863, Major General Samuel R. Curtis, commanding the Department of the Missouri) issued General Orders, No. 24 (Department of the Missouri) naming Francis J. Herron to supersede John M. Schofield as commander of the Army of the Frontier.
  • When Francis J. Herron assumed command of the Army of the Frontier on April 1, 1863, he was the youngest two-star general in the volunteer army to date.
  • In May 1863, Francis J. Herron threatened to resign from the army rather than serve under John M. Schofield.
  • On June 2, 1863, John M. Schofield, commanding the Department of the Missouri, ordered Francis J. Herron, along with the second and third divisions of the Army of the Frontier, to join Grant’s offensive against Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • Upon his arrival in the Vicksburg theater of operations, Francis J. Herron’s two divisions were merged to form “Herron’s Division” of the 17th Army Corps during the rest of the Vicksburg Campaign.
  • When Vicksburg officials surrendered on July 4, 1863, Ulysses S. Grant selected Francis J. Herron as one of three Union generals to lead federal soldiers into the city.
  • Herron’s Division was transferred to Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 24, 1863.
  • On August 7, 1863, Herron’s Division was transferred to the 13th Army Corps commanded by Major General Edward Ord.
  • On August 14, 1863, Major General Edward Ord issued General Orders, No. 24 (13th Army Corps) announcing among other things that “The division known as the Army of the Frontier, Major General F. J. Herron commanding, will henceforth be known as the Second Division Thirteenth Army Corps.”
  • On December 24, 1863, Major General Nathaniel Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, issued General Orders, No. 322 (Department of the Gulf) stating that “Major General Francis J. Herron, U. S. Volunteers, will proceed without delay to Brownsville, Tex., and report to Major General N. J. T. Dana, U. S. Volunteers, to take command of the Rio Grande frontier of Texas.”
  • Francis J. Herron arrived in Brownsville on January 3, 1864, and assumed command of the Rio Grande frontier of Texas.
  • During the seven months that Francis J. Herron served in Texas, he assisted Mexican President Benito Juarez in preventing the French troops of Emperor Maximilian from establishing a presence along the Rio Grande River.
  • On August 6, 1864, Major General Nathaniel Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, issued General Orders, No. 209 (Department of the Gulf) announcing that “A military district is hereby created, to be known as the District of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson, including the posts of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson. Major General Francis J. Herron, U. S. Volunteers is assigned to the command, and all troops serving within the district will be subject to his orders.”
  • On February 9, 1865, Major General Nathaniel Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, issued General Orders, No. 8 (Department of the Gulf) assigning Francis J. Herron to command the Northern Division of Louisiana.
  • Francis J. Herron commanded the Northern Division of Louisiana from February 14, 1865, until he mustered out of the volunteer army on June 7, 1865.
  • Following the Civil War, Francis J. Herron remained in Louisiana for eight years, holding various Reconstruction appointments including tax collector in New Orleans, U. S. marshal, and acting secretary of state.
  • While living in New Orleans, Francis J. Herron married Adelaide Sophia Flash (Wibray) the widowed mother of three children.
  • In 1877, Francis J. Herron moved to New York City to resume his banking career.
  • Francis J. Herron died penniless in a New York tenement house on January 8, 1902.
  • Francis J. Herron’s remains are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Long Island, New York, next to his wife who passed the previous year.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Francis Jay Herron - Facts
  • Coverage February 17, 1837 - January 8, 1902
  • Author
  • Keywords Francis Jay Herron
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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