John Taylor Hughes
John Taylor Hughes, the son of
Samuel and Nancy (Price) Hughes, was born near Versailles, Kentucky, on July 25,
1817. In 1820 the family moved near Fayette in Howard County, Missouri. Hughes
graduated from Bonne Femme College in 1844 and spent the next two years teaching
school. Upon the outbreak of the Mexican War Hughes enlisted as a private in
Doniphan's Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers. His classic book on the
Mexican War, Doniphan's Expedition, gained him nationwide celebrity. Returning
to Missouri in 1848, Hughes was variously editor of the Clinton County News,
plantation- and slaveowner, Clinton County school superintendent, militia
colonel, Columbia and was elected state representative in 1854.
Like most Missourians, including his distant cousin Sterling Price, Hughes did not believe in immediate secession. However, the Federal capture of a brigade of Missouri militia at Camp Jackson convinced this old-line Whig and "Conditional Unionist" to join the southern ranks. Hughes was elected colonel of the 1st Regiment of the 4th Division of the Missouti State Guard. The regiment joined the guard's main body in time to participate in the Battles of Carthage and Wilson's Creek. At Wilson's Creek Hughes led seven charges up Bloody Hill and had three horses killed beneath him. At the September 17 through 20 siege of Lexington, Missouri, Hughes was slightly wounded. During the winter of 1861 Hughes unsuccessfully attempted to penetrate into northern Missouri and bring in recruits for the guard. Friend and foe alike respected his military abilities; he was remembered by fellow soldiers as "brilliant and efficient," and "a brave, masterful man, scholarly and ambitious," and by a Union foe as "the most ambitious and daring officer in Price's army."1 In the spring of 1862 the state guard soldiers began volunteering for the regular Confederate army, and Hughes took command of a battalion of the volunteers. At the March 7 and 8, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge, Hughes took over command of the 2nd Brigade of Confederate Volunteers upon the wounding of General William Slack. After this battle Price's troops were transferred to Mississippi. In the summer of 1862 Hughes left Mississippi and returned to Missouri to recruit soldiers for the Confederate army. On August 11, 1862, Hughes and his recruits joined other partisan bands in an attack on Independence, Missouri. Leading the attack, which ultimately resulted in the capture of the city, Hughes was shot through the right temple and instantly killed. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence.
The Missouri volume of CMH and Bevier's History of the First and Second Missouri Confederate Brigades1 state Hughes returned from Mississippi in 1862 with a brigadier general's commission. No record of any official appointment exists, but it is possible that Major General Sterling Price, who was both commander-in-chief of the Missouri State Guard and a Confederate major general, appointed Hughes an "acting" general (whether in Confederate or Missouri State Guard service is not clear). At the time of his death Hughes was popularly known as "general."
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.