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Roger Hanson

Roger Weightman Hanson (August 27, 1827 – January 4, 1863) was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. The commander of the famed "Orphan Brigade," he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro. He was nicknamed "Old Flintlock."

Early life[]

Hanson was born in Clark County, Kentucky. His father Samuel Hanson was a well-known attorney and judge who had moved to Kentucky from Virginia. Hanson's father was Swedish. His mother Matilda Calloway was the daughter of a general. At the age of 18, Hanson was elected as lieutenant of a volunteer company that served in the Mexican-American War. He was cited for bravery at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He returned homed and studied law in Lexington, Kentucky, where he engaged in a duel with a fellow classmate. He was shot in the leg just above the knee, making him lame for the rest of his life. When he recovered sufficiently, Hanson travelled to California, losing his horse along the way and being forced to walk over 200 miles to San Francisco on his bad leg. He returned to Kentucky within a year. In 1853, he married Virginia Peters of Woodford County, Kentucky.

The following year, he moved to Lexington and established a profitable law practice. Entering politics, Hanson was elected to the Kentucky state legislature as a representative from his home district. He was nominated in 1857 to run for the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky's 8th District, but was defeated by James B. Clay. In 1860, he was one of the electors in the Electoral College from Kentucky.

Civil War[]

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Kentucky remained neutral and stayed in the Union. Hanson was named as colonel of a regiment of Confederate troops he raised in Lexington, Kentucky. When President Abraham Lincoln sent Federal troops into Lexington and raised the U.S. flag over the city, Hanson and his 2nd Kentucky Infantry were "orphaned," as they could never return home until Lexington fell to the Confederates (which did not occur). They were taken prisoner with the surrender of Fort Donelson. After being exchanged, Hanson was presented with a new horse by admiring friends. He rejoined the army and was promoted to brigadier general in December 1862, commanding his old regiment as well as the 4th, 6th and 19th Kentucky Infantry regiments, the 41st Alabama regiment, and Cobb's Battery in Breckinridge's division, Hardee's corps.

In his first battle as a general, Hanson was severely wounded on January 2, 1863, during a charge at Murfreesboro (Stones River) when he was struck above the knee by the fuse of a spent artillery shell. His brother-in-law vainly tried to stop the bleeding. He died two days later at the age of 35, with his last words as "I die in a just cause, having done my duty." General Breckinridge remarked in his official report, "Endeared to his friends by his private virtues and to his command by the vigilance with which he guarded its interest and honor, he was, by the universal testimony of his military associates, one of the finest officers that adorned the service of the Confederate States."

Hanson was buried at Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky.[1]


The General Roger W. Hanson Camp# 1844 (Winchester, Kentucky) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was named in his memory.


  1. Owen and Owen, Generals at Rest, p. 81.


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