Lieutenant General Theophilus Hunter Holmes

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jcrook

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I am from Fayetteville NC and thought I would post this as he is buried there at the McPherson Church.
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Theophilus Hunter Holmes was born in Sampson County, North Carolina, in 1804. His father, Gabriel Holmes, was a former Governor of North Carolina and U.S. Congressman. After a failed attempt at plantation managing, Holmes asked his father for an appointment to the United States Military Academy, where he ranked 44th out of 46, in his class.

US Army: After graduating from the academy, he served in Florida, the Indian Territory, and Texas. He was promoted to captain in 1838. He also served in the Second Seminole War, Mexican–American War, and he was brevetted to major for his actions during the Battle of Monterrey in September 1846. He was promoted to Major of the while serving with the 8th U.S. Infantry in 1855.

CSA: He accepted a commission as a Colonel in March 1861 and resigned from the US Army. He commanded the coastal defenses of the Department of North Carolina and then served as a brigadier-general in the North Carolina Militia. On June 5, 1861, commanding the Department of Fredericksburg. Holmes was assigned to P.G.T. Beauregard, for the First Battle of Manassas.

He was promoted to Major General on October 7, 1861. He subsequently commanded the Aquia District near Stafford VA before being assigned to the Department of North Carolina. He became temporarily attached to the Army of Northern Virginia during the Peninsula Campaign and his force was engaged and repulsed at Turkey Bridge by artillery fire from Malvern Hill and gunboats on the James river. After the Seven Days Battles, Robert E. Lee expressed displeasure at Holmes's mediocre performance. The two also had fundamental disagreements on strategy.

Holmes was then reassigned to commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department and promoted to lieutenant-general, on October 10, 1862. During his time as commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Holmes failed to perform his most important duty: defend the Confederacy's hold on the Mississippi River and had a part in the fall of Vicksburg by not providing support. In his defense the troops were rag tag, poorly trained and lacked competent officers to lead them. Holmes was relieved as head of the Trans-Mississippi Department, in March 1863.

In June of 1863 he was appointed head of the District of Arkansas. On July 23, Holmes became ill and temporarily relinquished command in Arkansas to Sterling Price for two weeks. General Kirby Smith reported that Holmes's age was catching up to him and that he was deficient in energy and apparently also suffering memory problems, thus he needed to be replaced. The soldiers he commanded in Arkansas had already taken to sarcastically calling him "Granny". Upon learning of this, an insulted Holmes resigned his post on February 28, 1864.

In April 1864, Holmes commanded the Reserve Forces of North Carolina. Holmes saw little action after being appointed to this new position. He held this position until the end of the Civil War.

Like Braxton Bragg, Theophilus Hunter Holmes was a friend of President Jefferson Davis. Davis intervened with Holmes as he had with Bragg in getting him commands and promotions when he should have been retired. In my opinion, the Confederacy paid a high price form both of these men being put in critical commands that they were not equipped to command.

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Belfoured

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I'm sure you've heard the classic Holmes story about that June 30, 1862 performance during the Battle of Glendale. As you note part of the fire his troops came under was from the gunboats in the James. The racket created by those large shells was, to put it mildly, very loud. Holmes was hard of hearing and in the midst of the din emerged from his HQ stating "I thought I heard firing".
 

Bruce Vail

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You often see references to Holmes as being too old for active service. Yet he was about the same age as Robert E. Lee, who was born in 1807, compared to 1804 for Homes. The birth dates were actually only separated by 25 months.

Sort of funny that both had been derisively called 'Granny' by detractors. Didn't stick to Marse Robert, did it?
 
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Saruman

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You often see references to Holmes as being too old for active service. Yet he was about the same age as Robert E. Lee, who was born in 1807, compared to 1804 for Homes. The birth dates were actually only separated by 25 months.

Sort of funny that both had been derisively called 'Granny' by detractors. Didn't stick to Marse Robert, did it?
Holmes's "age and physical ailments did not apparently dampen his libido, as during his time [as commander in the Trans-Mississippi] he fell in love with a 16-year-old Arkansas girl. The two became engaged, but Holmes's recall back east of the Mississippi cut the romance short and the two never saw each other again" - from his wikipedia page!
 

Belfoured

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Holmes's "age and physical ailments did not apparently dampen his libido, as during his time [as commander in the Trans-Mississippi] he fell in love with a 16-year-old Arkansas girl. The two became engaged, but Holmes's recall back east of the Mississippi cut the romance short and the two never saw each other again" - from his wikipedia page!
Between Van Dorn and Holmes, I wouldn't have wanted to raise a daughter in that area.
 
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Holmes's "age and physical ailments did not apparently dampen his libido, as during his time [as commander in the Trans-Mississippi] he fell in love with a 16-year-old Arkansas girl. The two became engaged, but Holmes's recall back east of the Mississippi cut the romance short and the two never saw each other again" - from his wikipedia page!
Good Lord he would have been at about 57 and her being 16
 

dhh712

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You often see references to Holmes as being too old for active service. Yet he was about the same age as Robert E. Lee, who was born in 1807, compared to 1804 for Homes.
Yes, I had that thought too--when I first read about his age being a factor, I was like was he in his 70s or something? Yet that were saying that when he was 59--NOT old! (even for that time!). He may have appeared older than his age then, perhaps.
 
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dhh712

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I'm sure you've heard the classic Holmes story about that June 30, 1862 performance during the Battle of Glendale. As you note part of the fire his troops came under was from the gunboats in the James. The racket created by those large shells was, to put it mildly, very loud. Holmes was hard of hearing and in the midst of the din emerged from his HQ stating "I thought I heard firing".
That's one of my favorite stories. I've heard it's not true and it's probably not--but it's still a good one!

@jcrook I love that Bible verse, by the way (on the corner stone of the church); it's one of my favorites. Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing.
 
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Bruce Vail

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Enjoy reading about the soldiers/officers that aren’t always in the limelight. Thanks for sharing.
Yeah, me too. And there is an (almost) endless supply of obscure generals. When you count the state-level volunteer general officers, brevets, etc., the number comes to more than 1,000. My wife and I named our son Nicholas 27 years ago because we liked the name. Imagine my surprise to learn 25 years later that that there was Gen. Nicholas Vail in the Union Army that we had never heard of before!
 

luinrina

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My wife and I named our son Nicholas 27 years ago because we liked the name. Imagine my surprise to learn 25 years later that that there was Gen. Nicholas Vail in the Union Army that we had never heard of before!
What a coincidence! Sounds like General Vail needs a thread to get some spotlight. *hinthint* :wink: :D
 
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...My wife and I named our son Nicholas 27 years ago because we liked the name. Imagine my surprise to learn 25 years later that that there was Gen. Nicholas Vail in the Union Army that we had never heard of before!
Apparently there were more bearers of that name wearing stars by brevet; Calvin N. Otis, N. Longworth Anderson and N. Wykoff Day. And on the Confederate side Brig. Gen. N. Bartlett Pearce (Arkansas State Troops).
 
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Lubliner

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I'm sure you've heard the classic Holmes story about that June 30, 1862 performance during the Battle of Glendale. As you note part of the fire his troops came under was from the gunboats in the James. The racket created by those large shells was, to put it mildly, very loud. Holmes was hard of hearing and in the midst of the din emerged from his HQ stating "I thought I heard firing".
Definitely a funny one, and odd how the same story occurs in Mackville outside of Perryville on October 8, 1862. General Buell was encamped about two miles in rear of his army, which had taken position the night before, and a general engagement began by 10 a.m. Somewhere near noon, General Buell rushes out of his tent and orders a courier to the front line to cease the indiscriminate firing of cannons and musketry; that it was a needless expenditure of ammunition.
Lubliner.
 

John Hartwell

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According to one of Shelby's officer (quoted in Kansas City Star, Feb. 13, 1897):

“Major General Holmes was in command of our part of the Transmississippi department. He was a West Pointer, President Davis was a West Pointer also, and thought that no man could be a soldier unless he bore the hall-mark of that academy. Therefore, he appointed Holmes, who was a gentleman and well-meaning, but stiff-necked and dull. Holmes sent for Shelby.​
“‘General,’ he said, when the cavalry leader appeared, ‘your men have been stealing, and it must be stopped. They are thieves.’​
“‘Sir,’ said Shelby, ‘whoever told you so lies.’​
“‘I believe it is true,’ said Holmes.​
“‘Why?’ asked Shelby.​
“‘Because everybody says so.’​
“‘Do you believe a thing when everybody says so?’​
“‘I do!’​
“‘Do you know what everybody says about you?’​
“‘I do not. What do they say?’​
“‘They say you are a d----d old fool!’ and Shelby walked out.​
“What is more, Shelby was right. Men can starve and fight, too."​
 
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