Brigadier General Benjamin
Army of the West Commander
Brigadier General Ben McCulloch was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7, 1862 as he rode forward to determine the location of the enemy line. He was in command of the right wing of the Confederate Army at the time. Major General Earl Van Dorn had been appointed commander of all forces west of the Mississippi before the battle to enhance cooperation between Brigadier General McCulloch and Major General Sterling Price, commander of the Missouri State Guard.
Ben McCulloch was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee on November 11, 1811. His father, Alexander McCulloch, had been a major in Andrew Jackson's campaign against the Creek Indians in Alabama. Ben and his brother, Henry, went to Texas in 1835 to join David Crockett's armed group, but a case of measles prevented Ben from joining the group that was killed at the Alamo. He commanded one of the "Twin Sisters" cannons at the Battle of San Jacinto. After the war, he joined the Texas Rangers as a first lieutenant under John Coffee Hays. He participated in many encounters with the Indians and Mexican raiders. He also had his right arm crippled in a rifle duel with Reuben Ross. In 1839 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas. After Texas was admitted to the Union, he was elected to the first Texas legislature, and he was appointed a major general in the militia.
Ben McCulloch raised Company A of Colonel Jack Hay's First Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers at the the beginning of the Mexican War. He led the company at the Battle of Monterrey. He was named as General Zachary Taylor's chief of scouts. His essential reconnaissance before the Battle of Buena Vista won him promotion to major. In 1849 he went to California. He did not strike it rich in the gold field, but he was elected county sheriff in Sacramento. Later, he was appointed United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Texas.
When Texas succeeded from the Union, Ben McCulloch was commissioned as a colonel in the Confederate Army. The federal arsenal at San Antonio was surrendered to his forces in 1861, He received the second appointment as brigadier general in the Confederate Army on May 11, 1861, and he was the first general to come from a civilian background. He was assigned command of the Indian Territory, and he began raising the Army of the West. He lead that army to victory at the Battle of Wilson Creek.
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