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John Edward Murray was a West Point cadet and Confederate officer who is popularly known as the youngest general in the Confederate army, though he was never thus promoted.
John Murray was born in March 1843 to John C. Murray and Sarah Ann (Carter) Murray in Fauquier County, Virginia. His parents also had three other sons and one daughter. At the age of six, Murray moved with his family to Arkansas, settling near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his father became a judge. In 1860, Murray received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and attended that institution until the next year.
With the secession of Arkansas, Murray returned home, where his military skills were put to use training troops under Brigadier General William Joseph Hardee. Transferring to active service, Murray was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Fifth Arkansas Infantry after serving as both a private and sergeant major. By the end of 1861, he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel at the age of eighteen.
The Fifth Arkansas participated at the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky, and Murray commanded the regiment at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee while the colonel of the regiment was unavailable, gaining praise from his superiors. In 1863, the Fifth Arkansas was consolidated with the Thirteenth Arkansas. Murray took command of the new regiment at the Battle of Chickamauga in Tennessee and Georgia when the commander was killed. Gaining more accolades for his work, Murray was promoted to colonel and recommended for further promotions.
Murray was mortally wounded on July 22, 1864, at the Battle of Atlanta in Georgia while leading three regiments in an attack on a Union position. He died the next day. Originally buried in Georgia, his remains were moved in 1867 to Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock (Pulaski County).
Murray never received a promotion to brigadier general despite reports to the contrary. He was an exceptionally young colonel, but a vacancy at the rank of general did not exist, and no action was ever taken on the matter.
For additional informationAllardice, Bruce S. Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008.
———. More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995.
David SesserHenderson State University
Last Updated 4/18/2017
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