John F. Marshall

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John F. Marshall was born in Virginia (probably Charlotte County) in 1823. As a young man he moved to Mississippi, and quickly rose to public prominence. At the age of twenty-one he became the assistant editor of the Jackson Southern Reformer, but left after a year because of ill health. During the Polk administration he was employed as an auditor for the Treasury Department. Returning to Jackson in 1849, Marshall bought a half interest in the Jackson Mississippean and edited that paper for two years. Active in Democratic party politics, Marshall served as secretary of the 1845 Democratic state convention and was appointed state printer in 1849. Moving to Austin, Texas, in 1854, he took over the editorship of the Austin State Gazette and became the most influential editor in Texas. An ardent and voluble secessionist, he was instrumental in preparing Texas public opinion to accept disunion. In 1858 Marshall was elected chairman of the Texas Democratic party.

Marshall returned to Mississippi in early 1861 to be with his ailing wife, and thus missed participating in the Texas state secession for which he had so long labored. On October 2, 1861, President Davis, an old friend, appointed him lieutenant colonel of the 4th Texas Infantry, a regiment whose colonel was future General John Bell Hood. Upon Hood's promotion to brigade command (March 3, 1862), Marshall was promoted to colonel of the 4th. According to an old friend, the intellectual Marshall, while "esteemed as a brave man, and admired as an eminent civilian, an able editor," failed to come "up to the standard as a military man" (even in those early days of the war)—so much so that a petition was circulated through the regiment demanding his immediate resignation. Some in the regiment thought his appointment smacked of political favoritism; others objected to his total lack of military experience and his partial deafness. Marshall's son-in-law, the son of Confederate Senator W. S. Oldham, remembered Marshall's "scholarly attainments, his erudition and his gteat mental endowments"—qualities that would make him a good editor, but which would perhaps be lost on rough Texas privates.' Colonel Marshall led the 4th at the Battles of Eltham's Landing and Seven Pines. At the Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, the Texas brigade broke the Union line and rescued the Confederate army from impending defeat, but at a sad cost. The 4th Texas lost fifty percent of its men and all three of its field officers charging through a hailstorm of bullets. Among those killed was Marshall, shot from his horse while heroically leading the charge. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Heitman, SHSP, and CV all list Marshall as a general. While his troops believed the promotion was imminent, there is no evidence that such a promotion had actually been made. Marshall was occasionally called (or rather miscalled) "general" before the war; perhaps the authorities misconstrued the prewar designation for the wartime rank."

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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.