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Theophilus Hunter Holmes
Personal Information
Born: November 13, 1804(1804-11-13)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: June 21, 1880 (aged 75)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America,
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Confederate States Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major (USA)
Lieutenant General (CSA)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Commands: Trans-Mississippi Department, District of Arkansas
Battles: Second Seminole War

Mexican-American War

  • Battle of Monterrey

American Civil War

Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Theophilus Hunter Holmes (November 13, 1804 – June 21, 1880) was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate Lieutenant General in the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Holmes was born in Sampson County, North Carolina, in 1804.[1] His father, Gabriel Holmes, was a former Governor of North Carolina and U.S. Congressman.[2][3] After a failed attempt at plantation managing, Holmes asked his father for an appointment to the United States Military Academy. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1829. He was ranked 44 out of 46, in his class.[4] Holmes was apparently quite deaf, and was almost never aware of loud gunfire.[1]

United States Army[]

I, who knew [Holmes] from his school-boy days, who served with him in garrison and in field, and with pride watched him as he gallantly led a storming party up a rocky height at Monterey, and was intimately acquainted with his whole career during our sectional war, bear willing testimony to the purity, self-abnegation, generosity, fidelity and gallantry, which characterized him as a man and a soldier.

After graduating, Holmes was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 7th U.S. Infantry. In 1838, Holmes attained the rank of Captain.[3] During his early services, Holmes served in Florida, the Indian Territory, and Texas. Holmes also served in the Second Seminole War, with distinction.[2] In 1841, he married Laura Whetmore, with whom he would have eight children.[3] During the Mexican-American War, he was brevetted to Major for the Battle of Monterrey in September 1846.[2] This promotion came after Jefferson Davis witnessed Holmes's courageous actions there.[3] and received a full promotion to Major of the 8th U.S. Infantry in 1855.[5]

Confederate Army[]

Early Service[]

Almost immediately after the firing on Fort Sumter, Holmes resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and his command of Fort Columbus, Governors Island in New York City on (April 22, 1861), having accepted a commission as a Colonel in the Confederate States Army in March.[2] He commanded the coastal defenses of the Department of North Carolina and then served as a brigadier general in the North Carolina Militia.[6] He was appointed Brigadier General on June 5, 1861, commanding the Department of Fredericksburg.[3] Holmes was assigned to P.G.T. Beauregard, for the First Battle of Bull Run.[4] Beauregard sent Holmes orders to attack the Union left, but the orders did not reach him in time. When the orders did arrive, he sent his troops to attack. When they arrived, the Confederacy had already claimed victory.[4] He was promoted to Major General on October 7, 1861.[3]

File:Seven Days July 1.png

Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862
Center of File:Confederate divisions attacked the Union position on Malvern Hill. The Confederate army was eventually repulsed, with heavy losses. You can see that Holmes's troops were not involved in the attack, due to Holmes's partial deafness. Though a Union victory, McCllenan's army ceased to be a threat to Richmond.[4]     Confederate      Union

Peninsula Campaign[]

During the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Holmes fought under Robert E. Lee. Holmes was put in charge of the Department of North Carolina, rather than serving un Lee in the Army of Northern Virginia.[6] Holmes's division consisted of the brigades of Brigadier Generals Junius Daniel, John G. Walker, Henry A. Wise, and the cavalry brigade of Brig. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. Holmes's troops fought extensively, during the Battle of Malvern Hill.[1] During the early parts of the afternoon, on July 1, one of the greatest artillery barrages of the war took place. In the middle of the barrages, Holmes came out of his hut, cupping his ear, and said unsurely, "I thought I heard firing".[1] Because of his bad hearing, Holmes was caught completely by surprise. During the Battle of Malvern Hill, Holmes's troops provided no help for the Confederate Army that was attacking the hill.[4]

Trans-Mississippi Department[]

After the Peninsula Campaign, Holmes became the commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. He was promoted to Lieutenant General, on October 10, 1862, by Jefferson Davis.[4] Holmes tried to change Davis's mind, but Davis did not change his mind.[4] During his time as commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Holmes failed to perform his most important duty. That duty was to defend the Confederacy's hold on the Mississippi River. He refused to send troops to relieve Vicksburg, during the Vicksburg Campaign. After numerous complaints were sent to Davis, Holmes was relieved as head of the Trans-Mississippi Department, in March 1863.[4]

District of Arkansas[]

After Holmes was relieved as head of the Trans-Mississippi Department, General Kirby Smith made him head of the District of Arkansas.[4] Holmes decided to attack the Union-held city of Helena, Arkansas. A coordinated attack was planned by Generals Theophilus H. Holmes, Sterling Price, John S. Marmaduke, James Fleming Fagan, and, Governor of Arkansas, Harris Flanagin. Despite miscommunication, the Confederates had some success. After hours of fighting, a general retreat was called, and the Confederates pulled back to Little Rock, Arkansas.[4] After returning from his failed expedition, Holmes was confined to a sick bed.[1] After months of sickness, he returned to his command, in November 1863. Kirby Smith reported that Holmes was losing his memory, and that he needed to be replaced. In March 1864, Holmes was relieved as head of the District of Arkansas.[1]

Later service and later life[]

In April 1864, Holmes commanded the Reserve Forces of North Carolina. Holmes saw little action, after being appointed to this new position. He would hold this position until the end of the Civil War. He, along with General Joseph E. Johnston, surrendered to William Tecumseh Sherman on April 26, 1865.[7] They were the last of the Confederate Army in the East to surrender, during the war.[8]

He returned to North Carolina, where he spent the rest of his life as a farmer. Holmes died in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is buried there in McPherson Presbyterian Church Cemetery.[3]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Welsh p. 104
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Hoig p. 306
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 McCrady pp. 608-609
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Heidler pp. 989-990
  5. Comptroller p. 540
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dougherty pp. 22-23
  7. Eicher pg. 875
  8. Lanier p. 274


  • Comptroller of the Treasury, U.S.; Decisions of the Comptroller of the Treasury, Volume 21, G.P.O., 1915
  • Dougherty, Kevin, Moore, James Michael; The Peninsula Campaign of 1862: a military analysis, Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2005, ISBN 1-5780-6752-9
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Heidler, David Stephen, Heidler, Jeanne T., Coles, David J.; Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: a political, social, and military history, W. W. Norton & Company, 2002, ISBN 0-3930-4758-X
  • Hoig, Stan; Beyond the frontier: exploring the Indian country, University of Oklahoma Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8061-3052-0
  • Lanier, Robert Sampson; The Photographic History of the Civil War ...: Armies and leaders, The Review of reviews Co., 1911
  • McCrady, Edward, Ashe, Samuel A'Court; Cyclopedia of eminent and representative men of the Carolinas of the nineteenth century, Volume 2, Brant & Fuller, 1892,
  • Welsh, Jack D.; Medical Histories of Confederate Generals, Kent State University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8733-8649-3

Further reading[]

  • Walther, Eric H., "William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War", The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill, ISBN 0-8078-3027-5

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