Portrait of George Crittenden

After the Civil War began, George B. Crittenden resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on June 10, 1861, and joined the Confederate cause. [Wikimedia Commons]

George Bibb Crittenden - Facts

March 20, 1812 - November 27, 1880

Key facts about George B. Crittenden, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and a major general in the Provisional Confederate Army whose struggles with alcoholism led to his fall from grace during the Civil War.

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Birth Date:

  • March 20, 1812

Birth Location:

  • Russellville, Kentucky

Parents:

  • John Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Lee) Crittenden

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1832)
  • Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • Lawyer

Career Summary:

  • Lieutenant colonel (USA)
  • Major general (CSA)

Spouse:

  • None

Place of Death:

  • Danville, Kentucky

Date of Death:

  • November 27, 1880

Place of Burial:

  • Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Kentucky

Significance:

  • George B. Crittenden was the firstborn of John Joseph and Sarah “Sally” (Lee) Crittenden’s seven children.
  • George B. Crittenden’s grandfather, John Joseph Crittenden, was a major in the Continental Army during the American Revolution and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
  • George B. Crittenden’s father, John J. Crittenden, was the seventeenth Governor of Kentucky, who also represented the Commonwealth in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and he served twice as U.S. Attorney General.
  • George B. Crittenden’s father, John J. Crittenden, drafted the Crittenden Compromise, an unsuccessful eleventh-hour attempt to save the Union and to avoid the American Civil War,
  • George B. Crittenden attended the U.S. Military Academy from July 1, 1828, to July 1, 1832.
  • George B. Crittenden graduated twenty-sixth in his class of thirty-three cadets at the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1832.
  • George B. Crittenden was brevetted as a second lieutenant with the 4th U.S. Infantry on July 1, 1832, and was sent to Illinois to serve in the Black Hawk War, but apparently he did not see action.
  • George B. Crittenden resigned his military commission on April 30, 1833.
  • George B. Crittenden received a law degree from Transylvania University.
  • By 1842, George B. Crittenden moved to the Republic of Texas where he enlisted in the Southwestern Army of Operations.
  • On December 26, 1842, Mexican forces captured George B. Crittenden and 242 other Texans during the Battle of Mier near the Rio Grande River.
  • Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna yielded to pressure from American political leaders (including Crittenden’s influential father) and announced George B. Crittenden’s release on March 15, 1843.
  • When the Mexican-American War erupted in April 1846, George B. Crittenden accepted an offer to rejoin the U.S. Army as a captain with the Mounted Rifles.
  • During the Mexican-American War, George B. Crittenden served with General Winfield Scott’s Army of Occupation, earning a brevet promotion to major on August 20, 1847, for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco.”
  • The U.S. Army promoted George B. Crittenden to major on March 15, 1848.
  • On August 18, 1848, a court-martial convicted George B. Crittenden of drunkenness and dismissed him from the service.
  • The U.S. Army reinstated George B. Crittenden on March 15, 1849.
  • The U.S. Army promoted George B. Crittenden to lieutenant colonel on December 30, 1856.
  • On January 2, 1861, George B. Crittenden gained some notoriety for defeating a band of Kiowa and Comanche Indians and destroying their camp along the Cimarron River in New Mexico.
  • George B. Crittenden resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on June 10, 1861, to join the Confederate cause.
  • Confederate officials commissioned George B. Crittenden as brigadier general in the Provisional Confederate Army on August 15, 1861.
  • On November 9, 1861, George B. Crittenden accepted a promotion to major general in the Provisional Confederate Army.
  • George B. Crittenden commanded Rebel forces during the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Mill Springs (January 19, 1862).
  • Following the Confederate defeat at Mill Springs, rumors materialized alleging that George B. Crittenden was drunk during the battle.
  • On March 29, 1862, Confederate officials reorganized their forces in the West and reassigned George B. Crittenden to a relatively minor role as commander of the Reserve Corps of the Army of Mississippi.
  • On March 31, 1862, George B. Crittenden’s new commanding officer, Major General William J. Hardee, arrived at Iuka and found an intoxicated Crittenden in charge of a camp in a “wretched state of discipline.” Hardee had Crittenden arrested and charged him with drunkenness on duty.
  • George B. Crittenden submitted his resignation as a general officer on April 11, 1862, and Confederate officials accepted it on October 23.
  • After leaving the Confederacy’s general officer corps, George B. Crittenden remained true to the Confederacy and accepted reassignment along with a demotion to the rank of colonel.
  • During the latter part of the Civil War, George B. Crittenden served the Confederacy in the Trans-Allegheny Department, successfully leading mounted troops into action in western Virginia on several occasions.
  • The Civil War ended for George B. Crittenden near Christiansburg, Virginia, when General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Major General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place, near Hillsborough, North Carolina in April 1865.
  • On May 5, 1865, federal officials paroled George B. Crittenden.
  • Following the Civil War, George B. Crittenden returned to Frankfort, Kentucky, where he found employment as the state’s librarian from 1867 to 1874.
  • On November 9, 1867, President Andrew Johnson formally pardoned George B. Crittenden who, like many Confederate general officers, had been charged with treason.
  • On November 27, 1880, Crittenden died at his sister’s home, at age sixty-nine, in Danville, Kentucky.
  • Family members interred George B. Crittenden’s remains in the Crittenden family plot in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Kentucky.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title George Bibb Crittenden - Facts
  • Coverage March 20, 1812 - November 27, 1880
  • Author
  • Keywords George Bibb Crittenden
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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