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VAN DORN, EARL (1820-1863)

Frontier military officer Earl Van Dorn was born on September 20, 1820, at Port Gibson, Mississippi. His father, Peter A. Van Dorn, served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, and his mother, Sophie Donelson Caffery, was a niece of Rachel Donelson, wife of Pres. Andrew Jackson.

Van Dorn graduated from West Point in 1842 and gained recognition during the Mexican War. On October 1, 1858, Van Dorn, a brevet-major in the Second Cavalry, was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Wichita Village near present Rush Springs, Oklahoma. The battle was part of Van Dorn's campaign against Comanche raiders, in which Camp Radziminski served as his base of operations.

During the Civil War Van Dorn was promoted to major general in the Confederate army and commanded troops from Indian Territory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862. Earl Van Dorn was murdered in Tennessee on May 7, 1863, and was buried at Port Gibson, Mississippi.

SEE ALSO: CIVIL WAR ERA, MILITARY–NINETEENTH CENTURY, WESTWARD EXPANSION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Y. Chalfant, Without Quarter: The Wichita Expedition and the Fight on Crooked Creek (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991). Robert G. Hartje, Van Dorn: The Life and Times of a Confederate General (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1967).

Adriana Schroeder

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