Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Blue and the Gray meet the two World Wars

Building on my previous post about Stonewall Jackson's great-grandson, Col. Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian Jr., it is fascinating to study the military careers of other descendants of prominent Civil War commanders. Sadly, a noticeable number were killed in action during the two World Wars. For instance, E. Porter Alexander III (a grandson of the Confederate artillery commander) was killed in France during the World War I (in 1918) while serving as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

At least three descendants of well-known Civil War commanders were killed in battle during World War II. In addition to the previously-mentioned Colonel Christian, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. (a son of the Confederate general) - who is shown here - was killed by Japanese shell fire during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. I believe he was one of the highest-ranking American military commanders to be killed in battle during the entire conflict. In a previous post, I discussed how Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest III (the Confederate cavalry general's great-grandson) was shot down over Germany during a bombing run while serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps.

While I am showcasing individuals who lost their lives in battle, there were several other descendants who were fortunate enough to survive their service in World War I and/or World War II. They all brought great honor to their Civil War ancestors by providing outstanding leadership and valor in later conflicts. I will discuss more of these descendants in future posts. While much scholarship is focused on the Civil War commanders themselves, I think it is both useful and fascinating to study the lives and careers of their descendants. As I have mentioned before, the lives these individuals led were often just as fascinating as that of their Civil War ancestors.

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