Earl Van Dorn

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Earl Van Dorn

Earl Van Dorn (born September 17, 1820 , Port Gibson , Mississippi , † May 7, 1863 in Spring Hill , Tennessee ) was a major general of the Confederate in the American Civil War .

Van Dorn graduated from West Point in 1842 as one of the worst of his year. He fought in the Mexican-American War and against the Seminoles and Comanche . A seasoned fighter, he rose quickly in the Confederate Army , from Colonel in March to Major General in September 1861. He commanded Confederate units at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas. With the Confederate defeat in this battle, Union forces were able to control Missouri. Van Dorn's incompetence during the Battle of Corinth , Mississippi in October 1862 resulted in yet another Union victory. When Van Dorn took command of a cavalry unit, his true strength showed, he won the battles at Holly Springs and Thompson Station.

Van Dorn died on May 7, 1863 at his headquarters in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He was shot dead by George Peters, who believed Van Dorn was having an affair with his wife. Peters was arrested but never charged with murder.


  • Robert G. Hartje: Van Dorn: The Life and Times of a Confederate General. Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville (TN) 1967.
  • Arthur B. Carter: The Tarnished Cavalier: Major General Earl Van Dorn, CSA University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville (TN) 1999, ISBN 1-572-33047-3 .

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