A Civil War Biography

John Porter McCown

McCown was born 19 August 19 1815 in Sevierville, Tennessee. He entered West Point on 1 September 1835 and graduated 10th in the class of 1840. Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 4th US artillery he saw service removing Indians to the West, along the Canadian border, and during the military occupation of Texas. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 30 September 1843. For his services at Cerro Gordo during the war with Mexico he was brevetted captain on 18 April 1847. On 9 January 1851 he was promoted to captain. He saw action against the Seminoles in Florida in 1856 and 1857. He also took part in the Utah expedition.

When Tennessee left the Union McCown decided to go with his state. He was named a lieutenant colonel in Tennessee's provisional army on 16 May 1861. He resigned his commission in the US army the following day. He was soon promoted to colonel. On 12 October 1861 McCown became a brigadier general in the Confederate service. He saw action at Belmont, Missouri but at New Madrid he withdrew before being enveloped by John Pope. McCown was promoted to major general on 10 March 1862 and was given command of the Army of the West. He then was sent to Chattanooga where he commanded a division in the army of Kentucky under Kirby Smith. At Stones River McCown commanded a division in William J. Hardee's Corps. Braxton Bragg, the overall commander at Stones River, felt McCown was his worst division commander. Bragg would charge McCown with disobedience of orders and have him brought before a court marshal on 16 March 1863. McCown was found guilty and his rank and pay were suspended for 6 months. McCown is said to have referred to the Confederacy as a "damned stinking cotton oligarchy". He would never again have an important command.

Following the war McCown settled near Knoxville, Tennessee where he taught school. He eventually relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas where he farmed. He died there on 22 January 1879.

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