Leonidas Polk

Civil War General Leonidas PolkCivil War Confederate General Leonidas Polk, The “Bishop-Militant,” was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, April 10, 1806. He was graduated from West Point in a class (1827), which immediately preceded that of Jefferson Davis, with whom Polk thereafter enjoyed the closest personal relations. He resigned almost immediately after graduation and entered the Episcopal ministry, and later became Missionary Bishop of the Southwest. Exchanging his clerical vestments for a uniform upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed major general in the Provisional Army of the Confederacy on June 25, 1861, and lieutenant general to rank October 10, 1862. In the early months of the conflict he commanded the vast territory of Department No. 2, including the Mississippi River to Paducah, Kentucky.

He also organized the Army of Mississippi, later a part of the Army of Tennessee. Superseded in command by General Albert Sidney Johnston, he subsequently served as a corps commander at Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and in the opening operations of the Atlanta Campaign. While examining the Federal position in company with Generals Johnston and Hardee, General Polk was instantly killed by a cannon shot at Pine Mountain, near Marietta, Georgia, June 14, 1864. At the time he was in command of a corps of the Army of Tennessee.

His performance upon some occasion was judged to be hardly commensurate with his rank, and he was particularly censured by General Bragg for dilatory tactics at Chickamauga. First buried in Augusta, Georgia, General Polk’s remains and those of his wife were re-interred in Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans in 1945.