John Edward Munay

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John Edward Munay, the son of John C. and Sarah Ann (Carter) Murray, was born in Virginia (probably Fauquier County) in March or April, 1843. In 1849 his father relocated in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he practiced law and became a judge. Young Murray was admitted as a cadet to the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1860. He resigned from West Point on April 21, 1861, one week after the firing on Fort Sumter, but before Arkansas had seceded.

Murray was mustered into the Confederate army on July 26, 1861. He reported to Brigadier General William Hardee, who had known him at West Point, and was assigned to drill the Arkansas regiments in Hardee's command. Transferring to line duty, Murray was commissioned lieutenant of the 15th Arkansas. On December 20, 1861, General Hardee promoted him to lieutenant colonel of the 5th Arkansas Infantry, at that time stationed in Kentucky. The 5th was part of a brigade of five Arkansas regiments in the Army of Tennessee, commanded at times by Brigadier Generals Thomas Hindman, St. John R. Liddell, and Daniel C. Govan. Being on detached duty at the time, the 5th missed the sanguinary Battle of Shiloh on April 6 and 7, 1862. At the Battles of Perryville (October 8, 1862) and Stone's River (December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863) Murray and the 5th fought with conspicuous skill and valor. At Stone's River Murray commanded the 5th, bearing "the colors of this regiment through the hottest fight, and by his own bright example encouraged his men to despise danger." In the fall of 1863 the 5th, depleted in numbers through arduous service, was consolidated with the 13th Arkansas. The colonel commanding the 5th/13th was killed early in the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19 and 20, 1863; Murray took over the consolidated regiment and led his troops in an attack that rolled up the left flank of the Union army. A Union counterattack nearly surrounded the Arkansans, who had penetrated far into the Union rear, and only Murray's quick-witted turnabout saved his men. After this performance Murray, "particularly distinguished for his skill and gallantry," was marked as one of the brightest young officers in the army. On October 19, 1863, he was promoted to full colonel, and his brigade commander recommended him for further promotion. In the winter of 1863 and 1864 Murray, as colonel, occasionally commanded the brigade. During the Atlanta campaign of 1864, Murray led the 5th/13th with accustomed gallantry. At the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, Murray led a three-regiment wing of the brigade in a desperate attack. The initial rush was halted by unexpected Union fire. Murray grabbed the regimental colors and rallied his men, who entered the Union trenches. In the fierce, hand-to-hand fighting that ensued, Murray was mortally wounded. He died just past midnight on July 23 on the battlefield. First buried in a local cemetery, in July, 1867, his remains were transferred to Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Arkansas volume of CMH does not include a biography of Murray in its "generals" section, but the text mentions that he received a general's commission the day of his death. It also says Murray was the youngest colonel and brigadier general in the army. No record of such an appointment exists. Further, his brigade commander (General Govan) was on duty the whole campaign, so there was no vacancy to which he could have been promoted. The Arkansas brigade was at that time much under strength and did not require an extra general.

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Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.