Joseph Wheeler



His exploits as a Confederate Cavalry leader led to his promotion to Lieutenant General at the age of twenty-eight. He served as a Major General in the Spanish-American War and later as Brigadier General in the U.S. Army.

Joseph Wheeler was the only Confederate general to attain the same rank later in the United States Army. Three decades after he commanded Confederate cavalry forces, he volunteered at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War and was commissioned a Major General of Volunteers in Cuba. He later became a Brigadier General of the Regular Army in the Philippines.

Fresh from West Point, with strong personal convictions and unshakable courage, he fought for his native Georgia at the outbreak of the Civil War and won fame as a cavalryman. During the Civil War he was in more than 500 skirmishes; commanded in 127 full-scale battles; had 18 horses shot from under him; and lost 36 staff officers from his side.

"Fighting Joe" moved to Alabama in 1869, practiced law, and operated his plantation in Lawrence County. He was elected to Congress in 1884 and to successive terms until 1898, when he again entered military service. It was his intense desire to show that Southerners could be counted on as citizens of the United States that prompted him to volunteer, at 62, for service in the Spanish-American War. Alabama honored its beloved fighting man by placing his bust in Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C. The nation honored him in 1937 by naming the dam across the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals for "the South's fightingest general."

Elected 1953

Alabama Hall of Fame, 1968

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Revised: 7/22/97