Michael Jefferson Bulger

Compliments:  Find-a-grave

Michael Jefferson Bulger was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on February 13,1806, the son of Pierce and Sarah (Adam) Bulger. His father, a mechanic by trade, fought in the War of 1812. Moving with his family to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1823, Bulger spent several years as an apprentice to a gin maker. In 1834 Bulger moved to Coosa County and in 1838 moved to Tallapoosa County, where he engaged in farming for the remainder of his life. An active politician, he served in the state legislature from 1851 to 1857. In the 1830s he fought in the Creek War and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the state militia.

Bulger was a delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention, and ran as an elector on the Douglas ticket that fall. In 1861 he was elected delegate to the state secession convention and was a leader in the fight against secession; he even refused to sign the ordinance of secession. However, he went with his state and, after some recruiting service, entered the army as a captain in the 47th Alabama. The 47th joined Taliaferro's (later Evander Law's) brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. In the regiment's first battle, at Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862, Bulger commanded the 47th. In that battle Bulger suffered injury: "during an attack on the flank he was wounded in the arm, but he bound his arm tightly, laid it in his bosom, and continued to command his regiment. A little later he was shot in the leg and an artery was severed, but the indomitable soldier stopped the bleeding by placing a corn cob on each side which he bound with a suspender ... and then persisted in the fight until, about to faint from loss of blood he was compelled to desist." Returning to Alabama to recover, Bulger was elected to the state senate in 1863 to fill a vacancy. After his recovery Bulger rejoined the 47th, having been promoted to major (August 23, 1862) and lieutenant colonel (September 13, 1862). A fellow colonel in Law's brigade recalled that Bulger was "unskilled in tactics and lacking in disciplinary power, but he possessed such a high order of courage that he was greatly respected by his men." In the attack on Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Bulger was shot through the lung while in the thick of the fighting. Left for dead on that battlefield, the indestructible old soldier survived and was taken prisoner. Imprisoned at Johnson's Island, Colonel Bulger (promoted as of July 10, 1863) was exchanged on March 10, 1864- His wounds prevented further active service, and he was retired to the Invalid Corps on February 14, 1865.

After the war Bulger was a farmer, ran unsuccessfully for governor, and served another term in the state legislature (elected in 1866). He lived in Tallapoosa County and Jackson's Gap, Alabama, until his death on December 14, 1900. He is buried in Dadeville Cemetery.

Both CMH and Heitman list Bulger as a general, the former stating that he received a commission as brigadier general while convalescing. No record of such a commission exists, and it is unlikely that he would have been promoted since his (Law's) brigade was led, after Law's wounding in 1864, by W. F. Perry as senior colonel and eventually general. A fellow colonel who knew Bulger well states with certainty that CMH was mistaken in saying Bulger was commissioned brigadier 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.