Thomas Turpin Crittenden


Thomas Turpin Crittenden was born in Huntsville, Alabama, October 16, 1825. His father was a younger brother of Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky and he was, accordingly, a first cousin of both Major Generals George B. Crittenden, C. S. Army, and Thomas L. Crittenden, U. S. Army. (He is also sometimes confused with another first cousin, Governor Thomas Theodore Crittenden of Missouri.) Crittenden's parents remained briefly in Alabama and then settled in Texas, where his father died and his mother took up a homestead near Galveston. He was graduated from Transylvania College at Lexington, Kentucky, where he studied law; he commenced practice at Hannibal, Missouri. During the Mexican War, Crittenden served as a second lieutenant of a Missouri volunteer battalion for more than a year, after which he made his residence at Madison, Indiana. On April 19, 1861, he entered the service of the United States as captain of the 6th Indiana and was appointed its colonel on April 27. This was a three-month regiment which reenlisted for three years in September. It fought at Philippi and Corrick's Ford in the western Virginia campaign and after reorganization was stationed in Kentucky until the battle of Shiloh, where it was engaged on the second day. Crittenden was promoted to brigadier general on April 28, 1862. On July 13, 1862, while in command of the post at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Crittenden and all the troops in the vicinity were surprised and captured by Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest, an action characterized by General Don Carlos Buell as follows: "Few more disgraceful examples of neglect of duty and lack of good conduct can be found in the history of wars." In justice to Crittenden, it must be said that he had assumed command only the day before and was not familiar with the arrangements in force for the protection of the town. Nevertheless, the incident virtually ended his career, and after his release in October he saw no further important service. He resigned on May 5, 1863. In 1868, General Crittenden moved to Washington and in 1885 retired and moved to San Diego, where he engaged in real estate development. He died while on a vacation trip at East Gloucester, Massachusetts, September 5, 1905, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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