Robert Francis Catterson

Robert Francis Catterson was born on March 22, 1835, on a farm near Beech Grove, Marion County, Indiana. He was the son of an Irish immigrant who died when Robert was five. Catterson was educated at Adrian College, Michigan, and at Cincinnati Medical College; he had just commenced practice at Rockville, Indiana, when the Civil War broke out.  Volunteering almost at once, he was mustered into Company A of the 14th Indiana Infantry on April 23, 1861. He was promoted to first sergeant in June, to second lieutenant the same month, to first lieutenant the following March, and to captain in May, 1862. In October he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 97th Indiana and in November became its colonel. He fought his first pitched battle at Kernstown in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 and his last at Bentonville in the campaign of the Carolinas in 1865. Meanwhile, he engaged (with repeated commendations by his superior officers) in the occupation of Memphis by W. T. Sherman, the siege of Vicksburg, the Tullahoma campaign, the battle of Chattanooga, the Atlanta campaign, and the "March to the Sea." During the march northward from Savannah, which culminated in the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, Catterson commanded a brigade of C. R. Woods's division of Logan's XV Army Corps. Catterson was finally promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from May 31, 1865. He never returned to medicine, but went to Arkansas after being mustered out and engaged unsuccessfully in cotton speculation. He then became commander of the Arkansas Negro militia used by Governor Powell Clayton to fight the Ku Klux Klan. But he later fell out with Clayton during the latter's successful campaign for the U. S. Senate, and as a result lost his position of United States marshal. From 1872 to 1874 Catterson was mayor of Little Rock. In the latter year he played a prominent part in the so-called Brooks-Baxter War on the side of Brooks. With the end of Reconstruction, General Catterson moved to Minneapolis, where he sold farm implements for a time and tried farming; he was not successful in either occupation. Incapacitated by a stroke, he died in the Veterans' Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, March 30, 1914, and was buried in the National Cemetery there.

Previous Page

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