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A brilliant cavalry officer and the terror of ugly husbands…

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Earl Van Horn spent his entire adult life in military service. Having graduated from West Point with so many of his generation his first real experience of battle was in the War with Mexico where he was at least thrice wounded. Instead of returning home to medals and politics he returned to more than a decade of garrison duty patrolling the frontiers and keeping the settlers safe from Comanches and other marauding indians where again he was wounded but continued to serve. When his native state of Mississippi seceded from the union he joined with her other prominent sons and joined the Army of the Confederacy to protect his home.

Our first illustrations come from the Mexican War campaigns.

Battle of Monterey--The Americans forcing their way to the main plaza Sept. 23th 1846 / Lith. by N. Currier.

Battle of Monterey–The Americans forcing their way to the main plaza Sept. 23th 1846 / Lith. by N. Currier.

Flight of Santa Anna - At the Battle of Cerro Gordo

Flight of Santa Anna – At the Battle of Cerro Gordo

Pursuit of the Mexicans by the U.S. Dragoons: under the intrepid Col. Harney, at the Battle of Churubusco Aug. 20th 1847

Pursuit of the Mexicans by the U.S. Dragoons: under the intrepid Col. Harney, at the Battle of Churubusco Aug. 20th 1847

Van Dorn, the life and times of a confederate general  Robert G. Hartje  [Nashville] Vanderbilt University Press, 1994  Softcover. Originally published: [Nashville] Vanderbilt University Press, 1967.  xiii, 359 p. maps, port. 25 cm. Bibliographical footnotes. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG

Van Dorn’s military career was typical of the Confederacy in the western theatre. Often out numbered, out gunned and short on supplies whatever tactical advantages he was able to gain by intelligence would finally yield to superior force. Unfortunately his accomplishments have been minimized by the history having been written by the victors as the following illustrations show.

Print shows an attack by Confederate cavalry and infantry, with Native American troops, against a line of Union cannon and infantry at Pea Ridge in Arkansas.

Print shows an attack by Confederate cavalry and infantry, with Native American troops, against a line of Union cannon and infantry at Pea Ridge in Arkansas.

Genl. Franz Sigel: at the battle of Pea-Ridge, Ark. March 8th, 1862

Genl. Franz Sigel: at the battle of Pea-Ridge, Ark. March 8th, 1862

Pea Ridge march. Respectfully dedicated to Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, U.S.A. Composed by Chr. Bach

Pea Ridge march. Respectfully dedicated to Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel, U.S.A. Composed by Chr. Bach

Historic examples of Southern Chivalry - Dedicated to Jeff. Davis / Th. Nast. Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, v. 7, (1863 February 7), p. 88-89. Caption card tracings: Cartoons, U.S. 1863; Atrocities; Massacres; Negroes in the C.W.; C.W. Troops 34th Ohio; C.W. Battles Pea Ridge; C.W. Battles Murfreesboro; C.W. Prisoners; Publ. Ind.

Historic examples of Southern Chivalry – Dedicated to Jeff. Davis / Th. Nast. Illus. in: Harper’s Weekly, v. 7, (1863 February 7), p. 88-89. Caption card tracings: Cartoons, U.S. 1863; Atrocities; Massacres; Negroes in the C.W.; C.W. Troops 34th Ohio; C.W. Battles Pea Ridge; C.W. Battles Murfreesboro; C.W. Prisoners; Publ. Ind.

It is more than a little ironic that this last item – which is propaganda pure and simple – should be featured so prominently in the Library of Congress history of the Battle of Pea Ridge AND be labeled as;  [Miscellaneous Items in High Demand] Meanwhile the Van Dorn’s – father and son – who contributed so much to Mississippi and the Republic rest side by side in their cemetery and all that exists of their home was photographed eighty years ago by that same victorious government;

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The house was constructed c. 1830 by Peter A. Van Dorn, who was prominent in territorial and early statehood politics. Peter Van Dorn’s son, Earl, won fame in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. The building represents the Federal style of architecture, which is rare in Mississippi.

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