Monday, April 3, 2017

William Henry Carroll: Fired Before He Got Started Good

William Henry Carroll

       There is no known photograph of Confederate Brigadier General William Henry Carroll. The above drawing is the only known image of the general in existence. Even the birth date of the general is in question. It is believed that he was born in 1810. Carroll's father served as governor of Tennessee six times. His father was also close friends with President Andrew Jackson. 
       His first occupation was as a planter in Mississippi and then later became postmaster of Memphis in 1848. When the war began, Carroll was appointed colonel of the 37th Tennessee Infantry. Tennessee General Leonidas Polk sent Carroll to east Tennessee to raise more troops. Carroll was very successful in this endeavor. He raised three regiments of infantry. He was then promoted to brigadier general on October 26, 1861. 
       In Chattanooga, General Carroll was observed by Alabama Colonel Sterling A.M. Wood who noted that Carroll had been drunk for five years. Wood went on to call Carroll stupid and easily manipulated. 
       Commanding 5,000 men in Knoxville, Carroll was plagued by a shortage of arms. In January of 1862, Carroll was ordered to join Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer in eastern Kentucky. He served under Major General George Crittenden and Zollicoffer at the Battle of Mill Springs. Crittenden in overall command praised Carroll following the defeat. There were rumors circulating that both Crittenden and Carroll had been intoxicated there. 
       When Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard began to gather the army in Corinth, Carroll was in command of a brigade of Tennessee infantry in Iuka a little over twenty miles east of Corinth. Major General William Hardee went there to investigate reports of incompetence by both Crittenden and Carroll. Both men were arrested for being intoxicated on duty. Under pressure from General Bragg and others, Carroll finally resigned his commission. 
       Carroll's family had moved to Canada following the fall of Memphis and Carroll soon joined them there. He never returned to the United States alive. He died in Montreal in 1868 at about the age of 58. Originally buried in Montreal, he was exhumed in 1869 and reburied in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee. 

Me at the grave of William H. Carroll
(Note the incorrect birth and death dates)