Francis Jay Herron

Francis Jay Herron, who ranked as the youngest major general on either side in the Civil War at the time of his appointment, was born in Pittsburgh on February 17, 1837. After attending what is now Pitt University and clerking in a bank, he went to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1855 to join his brothers in establishing a bank. He tendered the services of his militia company, the "Governor's Grays," to Presidentelect Lincoln two months prior to the latter's inauguration. His first muster-in was as captain of the 1st Iowa, with which he served in the disaster of Wilson's Creek under Nathaniel Lyon. In September, 1861, he became lieutenant colonel of the 9th Iowa and for his extraordinary heroism at Elkhorn Tavern  (Pea Ridge), where he was wounded and captured, was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers to rank from July 16, 1862. (Thirty years later he was awarded the Congressional medal for this exploit.) In December, 1862, Herron marched his two divisions a hundred and twenty-five miles in three days, without tents or equipment, from his encampment on Wilson's Creek to the battlefield of Prairie Grove, before the Confederate General T. J. Hind-man could march half that distance and overwhelm the small Union force under General James G. Blunt. Although Hindman's timidity contributed to the Confederate reverse, Herron's feat was spectacular and turned defeat into victory. For this deed, he was appointed major general of volunteers on March 10, 1863, to rank from November 29, 1862. In the last stages of the siege of Vicksburg, Herron's division of eight regiments plugged a gap on the extreme left of the Union line. Thereafter, he commanded the XIII Corps at Brownsville, Texas, the Northern District of Louisiana, and at the close of the war was appointed commissioner to negotiate treaties with the Indians. He resigned from the army on June 7, 1865. As a carpetbag lawyer in Louisiana, its United States marshal (1867-69) and acting secretary of state (1871-72), his stature and fortunes steadily diminished. In 1877, upon the withdrawal of Federal troops, General Herron moved to New York City, where he was reportedly connected with a manufacturing establishment until his death on January 8, 1902. However, his death certificate records that he died in a "tenement" on West 99th Street, "Occupation: None." He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, Long Island City, New York.

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