Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk
April 10, 1806
Raliegh, North Carolina
June 14, 1864
Pine Mountain, Georgia
Polk came from a wealthy and prominent family and was a cousin of President James Polk and the uncle of Union Brigadier Gen. Lucius E. Polk.
Polk resigned 6 months after graduation to study for the Episcopal ministry at the Virginia Theological Seminary. Ordained a deacon in the Espicopal Church 1830, he was named Missionary Bishop of the Southwest in 1838 and Bishop of Louisiana in 1841. He helped to establish the University of the South in 1860.
During the secession crisis, his loyalties laid with the South, it fighting for a sacred cause. His friend and West Point classmate, President Jefferson Davis, talked him into accepting a commission in the Confederate Army. On June 25, 1861, he was appointed a major general in the Provisional Confederate Army. He was given command of Department No. 2, including forces with the mission of fortifying and defending the Mississippi River approaches. On September 4th, his force occupied Columbus, Kentucky, violating Kentucky's neutrality and hurting the Confederate cause in the area.
After Chickamauga, Gen. Braxton Bragg removed Polk from command for not attacking when told to do so. Bragg also ordered him to be court-martialed but Davis had him reinstated. Polk was then transferred to command the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.
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