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Brig. Gen. George Bibb Crittendon

Brig. Gen. George Bibb Crittendon
Born March 20, 1812 at Russellville, Logan County KY
Son of US Sen. John Jordan Crittenden
Brother of US General Thomas Leonidus Crittenden
USMA 26th in 1832
Resigned commission in 1862 after defeat at Mill Springs/Fishing Creek
Died November 27, 1880 at Danville KY
Buried State Cemetery, Frankfort KY

Gen. George Bibb Crittendon


Pre-War Profession: Graduated West Point 1832, Black Hawk war, 1833 resigned, Texas army, Mexican War, remained in the US army, resigned 1861.
War Service: August 1861 Brig. Gen., November 1861 Maj. Gen., invasion of Kentucky, Mill Springs, court martialled for drunkenness, resigned October 1862, served in subordinate capacities in western Virginia.
Post War Career: State librarian of Kentucky.
Notes: Brother of Union general T L Crittenden.

Major-General George Bibb Crittenden was born in Russellville, Logan county, Ky., March 20, 1812, and was the oldest son of J. J. Crittenden. He was graduated at West Point in 1832, but resigned from the army the next year. In 1835 he went to Texas and volunteered in the struggle for independence; was taken prisoner, and held by the Mexicans for nearly a year. At one time he generously took the place of a comrade who had drawn the fatal black bean when their captors had for some reason determined to adopt summary measures. After his release he returned to his native State and devoted himself for ten years to the practice of law. At the beginning of the Mexican war in 1846 he entered the army as captain of mounted rifles, was brevetted major for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco, and on September 14, 1847, was among the first to enter the city of Mexico, where he had once suffered such disagreeable captivity. Continuing in the service, most of his time was spent upon the frontier. In 1848 he was commissioned major and in 1856 lieutenant-colonel. In the great sectional quarrel his sympathies were with the South. Accordingly he resigned his commission in the United States army and was appointed colonel of infantry in that of the Confederate States, to date March 16, 1861. On August 15th he was promoted to brigadier-general, and on November 9th to major-general in the provisional army. During the greater part of June, 1861, he had command of the Trans-Alleghany department. When commissioned major-general he was assigned to command of the district of East Tennessee and also placed in charge of military operations in Kentucky. Gen. Geo. H. Thomas early in January began an advance toward East Tennessee, and on the 17th reached Logan's Cross-roads, ten miles north of the intrenched camp of Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer. A few days before this General Crittenden had arrived at Zollicoffer's camp and assumed command. Hearing of the arrival of Thomas, Crittenden determined to attack that general before all his forces should come up. With this purpose in view he advanced, and on January 19th made the attack. But Thomas was ready with more men than Crittenden had. The result was the disastrous defeat at Mill Springs, or Logan's Crossroads, in which General Zollicoffer was killed. For the management of this affair General Crittenden was censured and kept under arrest for several months. If General Crittenden really deserved censure it was for relying too much upon the reports brought to him as to the actual strength of the enemy and condition of Fishing creek which, it was said, was so swollen as to delay the reinforcement of the enemy. At a council of war held the evening before the battle, it was unanimously decided that an attack ought to be made. Brig.-Gen. Wm. H. Carroll, whose brigade did some of the best fighting of the day, in his report of the battle made to General Crittenden says: "I cannot close my report without expressing the high appreciation both by myself and my officers for the personal courage and skill evinced both by yourself and staff during the entire engagement; and however much I may regret the unfortunate disaster which befell us, I feel conscious that it resulted from no want of gallantry and military tact on the part of the commanding general." General Crittenden resigned after this affair, but showed his patriotic devotion to the South by serving without rank on the staff of Gen. J. S. Williams. Gen. Basil Duke, in an article on John Morgan in 1864, makes mention of Crittenden as in southwest Virginia assisting Morgan in defeating a raiding force led by General Averell. In his rank as colonel, C. S. A., he was put in temporary command of the department of Western Virginia and East Tennessee, May 31, 1864. After the war he returned to Kentucky and lived mostly at Frankfort. He was State librarian from 1867 to 1871. He died at Danville, Ky., November 27, 1880. General Crittenden had a brother, Thomas L., who sided with the Union, and rose to distinction as a major-general.

Units which served under Gen. Crittendon:

    At Mill Springs (January 19, 1862):

      AL 16th Infantry Regiment
      MS 15th Infantry Regiment
      TN 17th Infantry Regiment
      TN 19th Infantry Regiment
      TN 20th Infantry Regiment
      TN 25th Infantry Regiment
      TN 28th Infantry Regiment
      TN 29th Infantry Regiment


    Evans, Clement, ed. Confederate Military History, Vol. VIII, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899. Reprint 1998. Eastern Digital Resources.

For Additional Research
Here's what's available.
Porter, James D.
- Confederate Military History - Kentucky
247 pgs.
Rigdon, John C.
Confederate Generals

Confederate Generals - 2005 Eastern Digital Resources