Confederate Combat Commander: The Remarkable Life of Brigadier General Alfred Jefferson Vaughan, Jr.
Known as one of the most aggressive Confederate officers in the Western Theater, Brigadier General Alfred Jefferson Vaughan Jr. is legendary for having had eight horses shot out from under him in battle—more than any other infantry commander, Union or Confederate. Yet despite the exceptional bravery demonstrated by his dubious feat, Vaughan remains a largely overlooked Civil War leader.
In Confederate Combat Commander, Lawrence K. Peterson explores the life of this unheralded yet important rebel officer before, during, and after his military service. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Vaughan initially commanded the Thirteenth Tennessee Infantry Regiment, and later Vaughan’s Brigade. He served in the hard-fought battles of the western area of operations in such key confrontations as Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and the Atlanta Campaign.
Tracing Vaughan’s progress through the war and describing his promotion to general after his commanding officer was mortally wounded, Peterson describes the rise and development of an exemplary military career, and a devoted fighting leader. Although Vaughan was beloved by his troops and roundly praised at the time—in fact, negative criticism of his orders, battlefield decisions, or personality cannot be found in official records, newspaper articles, or the diaries of his men—Vaughan nevertheless served in the much-maligned Army of Tennessee. This book thus assesses what responsibility—if any—Vaughan bore for Confederate failures in the West.
While biographies of top-ranking Civil War generals are common, the stories of lower-level senior officers such as Vaughan are seldom told. This volume provides rare insight into the regimental and brigade-level activities of Civil War commanders and their units, drawing on a rich array of privately held family histories, including two written by the general himself.
Lawrence K. Peterson, a retired airline pilot, worked as a National Park Service ranger and USAF officer. He is the great-great grandson of Brigadier General Alfred Jefferson Vaughan Jr.
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1 Offering Myself as a Candidate
2 No Stone or Mineral
3 Go with Your People
4 On His Mettle
5 We Can Take It
6 The Most Complete Victory
7 Change Front Forward on First Company
8 Who Has Those Colors?
14 Bravest and Noblest Wearer of the Gray
Appendix A Outline of the Life of Alfred Jefferson Vaughan Jr Brigadier General CSA
Appendix B Roster of VMI Graduates Class of 1851
Appendix C Members of the Dixie Rifles Company E 13th Tennessee
Appendix D Vaughans Commands in Battle
Appendix E The Famous Snowball Battle
Appendix F Vaughans Description of Losing His Leg
Appendix G Vaughans Brigade after His Wounding
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13th Tennessee ABBS Alfred Vaughan Army of Tennessee artillery attack Battery battle Battle of Belmont Battle of Richmond battlefield Belmont Benjamin Cheatham Bragg Brig brigade commander cadet Captain captured casualties Chattanooga Cheatham’s Division Chickamauga Civil Cleburne Cleburne’s Division Colonel Vaughan Company Confederacy Cozzens Davis Diary east enemy Federals fighting fire flank front general’s Grange Grange movement Hardee Hardee’s Corps Holly Springs Hood’s Ibid Infantry John Johnston Kentucky Leonidas Polk Let the Appointment Lieut Lieutenant located Losson Major Marshall County Martha Jane Memphis miles military Missionary Ridge Mississippi Missouri Moorman moved Murfreesboro Notes to Pages officers ofthe ordered Patrick Cleburne plantation Polk Polk’s Corps position Preston Smith railroad regiment retreat Road Rosecrans Saint Joseph Sherman Shiloh Smith’s Brigade soldiers Spruill Stones River Tenn Tennessee’s Forgotten Warriors troops Union forces Univ Vaughan Jr Vaughan’s Brigade Virginia William wounded