General Thomas Churchill ***
Gen. Thomas James Churchill commanded the brigade of Texas dismounted cavalry that delivered the crushing blow to the Union right. Churchill had come a long way home to lead the assault. ***
Thomas James Churchill was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on March 24, 1824. He might have spent the rest of his life here if not for the Mexican War. In 1846, en route to Mexico, the 1st Kentucky Mounted Rifles stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas. There, Churchill met Ann Sevier. The couple married in 1849 and bought a plantation near Little Rock. Except for his Confederate service, Churchill spent the rest of his life there. ***
Churchill recruited an Arkansas regiment in 1861. He was promoted to brigadier general after the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri. Here, at Richmond, he led the Third Infantry Division - one brigade of Arkansas infantry and one brigade of Texas dismounted cavalry.
As commander of the garrison at Arkansas Post in 1863, Churchill held off a combined force of Union infantry and gunboats for three days before surrendering. He spent three months in a northern prison camp. Upon his release he led a division in the Red River Campaign and several battles in the Camden Campaign in Arkansas. ***
After the war, Churchill served three terms as Arkansas State Treasurer and was elected governor in 1880. Although his term was plagued by scandal related to his years as treasurer, he accomplished a great deal. The first state-sponsored normal school for African Americans and a modern facility to care for the mentally ill were built during his term. Thomas James Churchill died shortly after his eighty-first birthday. He is buried in Little Rock.