From enlisted man to high ranking officer.

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alexjack

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From Ken Burns Civil War I remember Elisha Hunt Rhodes who went from Private in 1861 to commanding his regiment by the end of the War. Was this common during the War for an enlisted man to rise to a Majors rank or a Colonelcy or even higher? I know Forrest did it but he was exceptional.
 

Allie

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I asked this question recently on a thread but I can't find it or remember what the rest of the thread was about! Maybe someone else will remember and dig the thread up but they came up with a surprisingly long list of generals who had enlisted as privates.
 

NedBaldwin

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Allie, it was in the thread 'Biggest Mistakes of Generals'.
This list was posted:

CSA
Henry W. Allen
Alpheus Baker
John D. Barry
William B. Bate
John Bratton
John C. Brown
A.W. Cambell
Francis M. Cockrell
Philip Cook
G.B. Dibrell
Basil W. Duke
Matthew D. Ector
Jesse J. Finley
Nathan B. Forrest
Samuel J. Gholson
James Bryon Gordon
Henry Gray
G.B. Hodge
William L. Jackson
Robert Lowry
William McComb
William McRae
John T. Morgan
W.H. Payne
William R. Peck
William F. Perry
Lucius Polk
James E. Rains
Matt W. Ransom
William P. Roberts
Lawrence S. Ross
Alfred Scales
Isaac St. John
Claudius Sears
Thomas Toon
Robert C. Tyler
William H. Wallace

Union
C.C. Andrews
Francis Barlow
William F. Bartlett
Daniel D. Bidwell
James S. Brisbin
Morgan H. Chrysler
Selden Connor
Lucius Fairchild
Schuyler Hamilton
Abner C. Harding
Elliott W. Rice
William Wells
 
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James N.

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It's worth noting that many men, Forrest included, quickly joined ( or were already members of ) local militia units that were often as quickly disbanded or otherwise altered in favor of others of a statewide or larger regional nature, allowing them to move to positions of greater responsibility. Rhodes was somewhat unusual in that his rise was more a steady one and far from meteoric, going through the various junior officer ranks, though he fairly quickly went to officer status because of his education; as I remember, he was selected to be regimental adjutant for this reason.
 
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