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Biography

Theophilus Holmes

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Theophilus Hunter Holmes
TITLE
Lieutenant General
WAR
&
AFFILIATION
Civil War
/
Confederate
DATE OF BIRTH - DEATH
November 13, 1804 - June 21, 1880

Theophilus Hunter Holmes was born in Sampson County, North Carolina on November 13, 1804. His father was a former governor of North Carolina and U. S. Congressman. Holmes’s father helped him arrange an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1829. Holmes served in the Indian Wars as a Captain in the 7th U. S. Infantry. During the Mexican War, he won a brevet promotion to major for gallantry at the Battle of Monterrey in September, 1846. When the Civil War began, Holmes was the commanding officer of Fort Columbus on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. He resigned his U. S. Army commission, and became a colonel in the Confederate Army in March, 1861. He was initially assigned to coastal defense duties in North Carolina, but by July he was assigned to General Pierre G. T. Beauregard’s army at Manassas where he was posted on the Confederate right flank at the battle there. During the Peninsula Campaign, Holmes was assigned to the defenses of Richmond and was engaged at the Battle of Glendale. After the campaign, when Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Holmes was transferred to command of the Trans-Mississippi Department in Arkansas, where he found it difficult to recruit and train an organized force to oppose Union armies in the area. Holmes was removed from department command and placed in charge of Confederate forces facing Helena, Arkansas on the Mississippi River. Holmes’s men attacked the Union troops there on July 4th, 1863. After initial success, the Confederates were forced to withdraw. Because of his age and his defeat at Helena, Holmes never again held a major command in the west. He returned to North Carolina in April, 1864 where he commanded reserve forces, eventually surrendering them to William T. Sherman’s army in April, 1865. Holmes remained in North Carolina where he became a farmer until his death on June 21, 1880.