Richard Harrison was born on March
3, 1821, in Jefferson County, Alabama. His father, Isham Harrison, a planter and
state representative, was a descendant of the Harrison family of Virginia and
the Hampton family of South Carolina. His mother, Harriet Kelly, was a sister of
Alabama's U.S. Senator William Kelly. His two brothers were both Confederate
generals; a third brother was a colonel. The family moved to Monroe County,
Mississippi, in 1835. Harrison studied medicine at Transylvania University in
Kentucky, graduating in 1843. After graduation he practiced medicine in
Aberdeen, Mississippi, and was elected state senator, representing Monroe County
from 1858 to 1861.
In 1861 Harrison enlisted as first lieutenant of the 11th Mississippi and served as part of the Pensacoia garrison. Returning to Mississippi on April 1, 1862, he joined the newly formed 43rd Mississippi as first lieutenant. On May 15, 1862, he was elected major of the 43rd, and in January, 1863, was promoted to colonel. "Grand Old Dick Harrison" led the 43rd at the Battle of Corinth and the siege of Vicksburg. At the latter the 43rd manned the Confederate lines to the north of the 3rd Louisiana redan. The 43rd lost fifty-eight men in the siege, six of whom were buried by the explosion of a Union mine. Captured there with his regiment, Harrison was soon paroled, and labored ceaselessly to reconstitute his regiment with his paroled soldiers. He fought in the Atlanta campaign, the Battle of Franklin, and the Battle of Nashville. In the 1865 Carolinas campaign he led, as colonel, Adams' Mississippi brigade, which included his old regiment. Harrison was paroled at Meridian, Mississippi, as colonel on May 16, 1865.
After the war Harrison lived in Aberdeen for a year practicing medicine, then moved to McLennan County, Texas, where his brothers lived. He practiced medicine and farmed there. Harrison also became involved in politics, serving as a member of the state Democratic committee. Colonel Harrison died on November 1, 1876, in McLennan County and is buried in First Street Cemetery in Waco.
Wood, Heitman, CV, and SHSP all have Harrison listed as a general, the first saying he was appointed from Texas in 1865- Richard Harrison was never in Texas or associated with Texas during the war. It is thought that he is being confused with his brother Thomas Harrison of the 8th Texas Cavalry, who was appointed brigadier general in 1865. A family book suggests he was commissioned brigadier general in 1865 while in the Carolinas. The family history has it that he was always called "general" by his family, including his two brothers. However, Harrison stated in his own pardon application that he was only a colonel.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.