Benjamin Henry Grierson

Benjamin Henry Grierson was born of Irish parentage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 8, 1826. He was educated at an academy in Youngstown, Ohio, and later taught music there and at Jacksonville, Illinois. After 1856 he kept a store at Meredosia, a nearby hamlet on the Illinois River. When the Civil War came, Grierson entered the service as a volunteer aide-decamp to General Benjamin M. Prentiss. He was commissioned major of the 6th Illinois Cavalry in October, 1861, and became its colonel the following April. During that spring and summer the regiment was engaged in a number of skirmishes in Tennessee and Mississippi, its squadrons being posted at three different stations. In the latter part of December the regiment was reunited and took part in the pursuit of Earl Van Dorn after his Holly Springs raid. On April 17, 1863, under orders from U. S. Grant, Grierson left La Grange, Tennessee, in command of seventeen hundred men of the 6th and 7 th Illinois and the 2nd Iowa in a raid southward through the heart of the Confederacy. In seventeen days the command marched eight hundred miles, repeatedly engaged the Confederates, ruined two railroads, and destroyed vast amounts of property, finally riding into Baton Rouge on May 2. For his feat Grierson was appointed brigadier general of volunteers to rank from June 3, 1863. He later commanded a cavalry division and at times the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Mississippi during 1864 and 1865. In 1865 he took part in the campaign against Mobile. He was commissioned major general of volunteers on March 19, 1866, to rank from May 27, 1865, and was mustered out of volunteer service on April 30, 1866. Upon the reorganization of the Regular Army that July, Grierson was appointed colonel of the 10th Cavalry. The following year he was awarded the brevets of brigadier general and major general, U. S. Army. In the postwar years Grierson was stationed mainly in the Southwest, commanding at various times the Department of Arizona and the Districts of New Mexico and Indian Territory. He was promoted to brigadier general on April 5, 1890, and retired three months later. Residing in Jacksonville thereafter, he died at his summer home in Omena, Michigan, on September 1, 1911, and was buried in Jacksonville Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.