The Civil War/World War II Connection
By Stuart Zelman
Here are famous World War II personalities who are connected in one way or another to famous (and not famous) Civil war personalities. Some of the names you should recognize; others will surprise you. By no means is this list complete.
Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, great (?) grandfather of...
Brig. General Nathan Bedford Forrest III, USAAF - Shot down over the Baltic Sea while leading a bombing raid on the submarine yards at Kiel in June of 1943. His body was found when it washed up at a German Seaplane base in September of that year. He was buried by a detail of the German Navy, but was disinterred in 1947 to be reburied in Arlington National Cemetery.
Major General Arthur MacArthur - 24th Wisconsin Infantry, Medal of Honor recipient for planting the flag on Missionary Ridge, fought in the Indian wars and the Spanish-American War. He was the father of...
General Douglas MacArthur
General Adna R. Chaffee, Sr. - 1st Lt. in the 6th US Cavalry at the end of the Civil War. He was brevetted Captain at the end of the Civil War because of his conduct at Dinwiddie Court House. He fought in the Indian Wars and the Spanish-American Wars, finally serving as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He is the father of...
Major General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr. - He and Patton are considered to be the father of the WWII-era Armored Corps.
Confederate Lt. Col. Waller Tazewell Patton - led the 7th
Major General George S. Patton, Jr.
Col. George S. Patton, killed at 3rd Winchester, grandfather of...
Major General George S. Patton, Jr.
Captain Fitzhugh Lee
General U.S. Grant
Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. - WWII-era USMC General, killed by a sniper at
Confederate Major Manning H. Kimmel, Lt. in the 2nd US Cavalry in the pre-Civil War army and had been involved in an excursion into Mexico by Texas Rangers and U.S. Regulars after a raid led by Mexican Bandito Juan Nepomuceno "Cheno" Cortina on Brownsville, Texas (Lee, Stoneman, and Heinzelman were also present), AAG to Brig. Gen. Frank Anderson CSA, father of...
Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, of
Also the Grandfather of Lt. Commander Manning M. Kimmel, commanding officer of the submarine USS Robalo (SS-273). Survived the sinking of his submarine after hitting a mine off of Borneo but was one of those prisoners burnt alive in "Massacre of Palawan" in December of 1944.
Also the Grandfather of Captain Thomas K. Kimmel (brother of Manning M.), commanding officer of the submarine USS Bergall. Pulled from combat duty by Admiral Christie after Lt. Commander Kimmel was reported MIA. He commanded the Fleet Submarine Training School at Portsmouth, NH until the conclusion of hostilities whereupon he returned to the command of the USS Bergall. After holding various other commands he finally retired (circa 1960s) from a career in the Navy and began to focus his efforts to clear his father's name. He was finally successful but had passed away by the time Admiral Kimmel (and General Short) were finally exonerated in August of 1995.
Confederate Private William A. McCain, 5th Mississippi Cavalry, grandfather of...
Admiral John S. "Slew" McCain, Sr. - commander of Task Force 58 in Halsey's Third Fleet, and present at surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri. He died only four days afterward. (He was also the grandfather of Republican Presidential candidate Senator John S. McCain
Major General George E. Pickett - one of three Generals that led the charge on the Union center on the third at Gettysburg, an event that has come down through history as "Pickett's Charge." Forever afterward blamed Lee for the decimation of his Division. Great grandfather of...
Colonel George E. Pickett IV - graduated from West Point in 1942, serving in World War II and the Korean War.
The Wilson home located in Rice, Virgina, was used as a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during and after the Battle of Saylor's Creek.
In 1940 Sam Wilson, stirred by one of Churchill's most rousing speeches after the debacle of Dunkirk, jogged 7 miles in the pouring rain to the National Guard Amory in Farmville where he enlisted. In 1942 he was sent to OCS after which he taught guerrilla tactics at Fort Benning. By 1943 he found himself in Burma as a 19 year old 1st Lieutenant and Chief Reconnaissance Officer in the 5037th Composite Unit (Provisional) otherwise known as... Merrill's Marauders. He served the military for 37 years (three of them as a civilian) and retired from the army as a Lieutenant General in 1977. He is also an inductee in the Army Ranger Hall Of Fame and the Military Intelligence Hall Of Fame. As of this writing he enjoys his retirement at his family homestead still in Rice, Virginia.
Helen Dortch Longstreet, General Longstreet's second wife (1863-1962) contributed to the war effort. In 1943 at the age of 80 she worked at Bell Aircraft as a riveter! (Photo here.)
Captain Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II commanded the USS Harriet Lane, taking part in the Battle of New Orleans. He also took part in the operations against Vicksburg. He was killed on January 1, 1863 attacking coastal batteries and forts at Galveston, Texas. He is the great-grandfather of...
General Jonathan Mayhew "Skinny" Wainwright IV - Commander of Allied forces in the Philippines during WWII, who had to surrender Allied forces on Bataan to the Japanese. He was held as a P.O.W. until liberated by forces with the Red Army in August 1945. Medal of Honor recipient. Died September 2, 1953.
Rufus King held a Brigadier General's commission in the Union Army where he commanded Wisconsin militia and organized what would become the famed "Iron Brigade." Unfortunately his bouts of epilepsy forced him to resign his commission. Abner Doubleday would replace him.
Rufus King, Jr. started out as a Private in Colonel Marshall Leffert's 7th NY Militia. He managed to get commissioned as a lieutenant in the 4th US Artillery, eventually commanding Battery A. He is noted for his bravery during the Seven Days Battles when he took command of Batteries A and C at the battle of White Oak Swamp on June 30, 1862. Because of his actions, he would win the highest award, the Medal of Honor. He would eventually retire with the rank of Major.
Brigadier General Archibald Gracie III, though NY born and bred, threw his lot in with the Confederacy when the war broke out. He received a commission as a major in the 11th Alabama Infantry. He eventually commanded a Brigade; his most notable battles being fought under Longstreet at Bean's Station and at Chickamauga. He was killed by an artillery shell on Dec. 2, 1864 while observing the enemy during the Seige of Petersburg.
These two men were related and were ancestors of...
Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., Vice Admiral. He was on his flagship the USS Enterprise (CV-6) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He planned and led raids on Japanese installations in the early part of the war. Just before the Midway campaign he was side-lined with a chronic skin condition forcing him to take medical leave and giving up his command to Admiral Spruance. He returned in time to take command during the Guadalcanal campaign and the subsequent battles in the Solomon Islands chain. He then received command of the Third Fleet, leading it in the Battles of the Palaus, Leyte Gulf and Luzon. He retired from active service in 1947. As a civilian he served on the board of ITT. He passed away at the age of 76 on August 16, 1959.
General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, great grandfather of...
Col. Thomas J. Jackson Christian, Jr. - Graduate of West Point, Class of 1939, where he was assigned to the artillery as a 2nd Lt. He shortly transferred to the Army Air Corps. Upon graduation in 1941 he was assigned to the Philippines. When war broke out he flew various missions in the South Pacific area (Bataan, Mindanao, Australia) until shot down. Given up for dead, he survived living with the natives until rescued. He returned to duty flying 60 combat missions over Guadalcanal. He was granted leave and returned to the States where he married and was assigned the command of the 361st Fighter Group. While in the European Theater he flew 70 combat missions earning the DSC, Air Medal, and Purple Heart. He was shot down August 12, 1944 in a P-51 Mustang over Arras, France. His body was never recovered.
General Robert Edward Lee, CSA, cousin of...
Vice Admiral William Augustus "Ching" Lee, Jr., USN
Graduated from the US Naval Academy, Class of 1904. Earned the nickname "Ching" because of his love of the Orient. Participated on the Academy's rifle team. In World War I he served on destroyers. He also participated in 14 events in the 1920 Olympics winning 7 medals; 5 of them the Gold Medal. In WWII he commanded Battleship Division 6 at Guadalcanal (USS Washington and South Dakota) battering IJN Battleship Kirishima in a decisive night-time engagement in November of 1942. This was the first naval battle fought mostly by radar. The Kirishima was so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled by her own forces. In 1944 he was promoted to Vice Admiral, Commander Battleships Pacific Fleet. He died of a sudden heart attack on August 25, 1945.
Major John William Puller, 5th Virginia Cavalry, grandfather of...
Lt. General Lewis. B. "Chesty" Puller
Puller was influenced from the tales of Confederate Veterans and the exploits of Stonewall Jackson growing up in his home state of Virginia.
He attended VMI and enlisted in the Marines after graduation. Superiors recognized his abilities; he was sent to the NCO and OC Schools. He graduated with the rank of 2nd Lt., but in the streamlining of the Armed Forces after the war he was demoted to the rank of Corporal. In this capacity he served in Haiti fighting the Rebels. He returned to the States and regained his officer's commission. A stint fighting in Nicaragua followed. He then commanded a detachment of the China Marines and then served as the head of the Marine Basic Training School based in Philadelphia. During World War II, Puller led Marines at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleiu racking up an impressive array of decorations: 5 Navy Crosses, the Silver Star, The Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Service Cross, to name a few. Puller served in the Korean War and was forcibly retired with the rank of Lt. General in 1955 after suffering a stroke. He passed away on October 11, 1971.
Richard L. Ewell, a Lieutenant in the 24th Kentucky Infantry (Union) and kin to Confederate General Richard S. Ewell; grandfather of...
Lt. Col. Julian Ewell, commanding the 3rd Battalion of the 501st of the 101st Airborne Division, then the entire regiment. He landed with his men in the early morning hours of D-Day June 6 behind the Utah beach sector. He fought with his men in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, most notably at Bastogne. Col. Ewell served in Korea as Colonel in the 9th infantry Regiment. In Vietnam, Major General Ewell commanded the 9th Infantry Division during Operation Speedy Express. He later was promoted to Lt. General and commanded the II Field Force. After the war he served as Chief of Staff of the NATO Southern Command until his retirement in 1973. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 93.
Pvt. Samuel E. Johnson of Company B, 26th Texas Cavalry. Patrolled along the Rio Grande and participated in the Red River Campaign. Great-grandfather of...
Lyndon Banes Johnson, President of the United States, 1963-1969. In World War II, he was a Commander in the USNR. He was part of a three-man team that and monitored and reported on conditions in the South Pacific; reporting back to the Department of the Navy, Congress and President Roosevelt. He also was Chairman of a Naval Affairs committee that made recommendations to upgrade the efficiency of Naval commands, personnel and ships.
Private George Nixon, 73rd Ohio, mortally wounded at Gettysburg and dying July 10, 1863. Grandfather of...
Richard Nixon, President of the United States, 1969-1974. In World War II he was commissioned a Ensign in the USNR. After attending school in Quonset Point, RI, he got posted as an aide to the Executive Officer at the Naval Reserve Aviation base in Ottumwa, Iowa. He requested and got posted to Guadalcanal and Green Islands as the Officer In Charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command. In the summer of 1944 he returned to California where he assigned to Fleet Air Wing 8 until December of that year. Until the close of the war he served in various capacities in the Bureau of Aeronautics. He retired from active duty in 1946 with the rank of Lt. Commander.
Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, father of...
Major General Sherman Miles. Sherman Miles was born in 1882 and was named after his Uncle, Major General William T. Sherman. He was a graduated of the USMA at West Point, class of 1905, and was commissioned as a 2nd lt. in the 11th Cavalry.
In WWI he served as a military attaché in the Balkans and an observer in Russia until 1916. He was promoted to the rank of Major and attached to the General Staff. He then was sent Western Front continuing the role of observer during the Argonne Offensive. By the Armistice he had attained the rank of Brevet Lt. Colonel.
After WWI, he was a member of the Coolidge Mission. At the conclusion of that task he attended various schools and posts eventually landing the job as Commander of the United States Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill until September 1, 1939. He then was promoted to Brigadier General, being posted to London as military attaché. A year later he returned to the U.S. where he was given the job as the head of the Military Intelligence Division on General Marshall’s Staff. The debacle of Pearl Harbor and intelligence failures resulted in his being reassigned from Marshall’s staff to the First Service Command; but still attaining the rank of Major General. Miles served in this capacity until his retirement in 1946 after forty-one years of military service.
Major General Sherman Miles died in 1966.
Major John Puller of the 5th Virginia, killed at Kelly's Ford in March of 1863. Grandfather of...
Lt. General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, USMC.