Preston Blair, Jr. was born in Lexington, Kentucky on February 19, 1821.
From secession to Reconstruction, Frank Blair of Missouri made an unbroken
series of major contributions to the Union cause. No man did more to block
Missouri’s move to the Confederacy in 1861. As a U.S. Congressman, he battled
for President Lincoln’s early war programs. As a soldier, he was a distinguished
divisional and corps commander during the Vicksburg and Atlanta campaigns.
Finally, as a post-war senator, he confronted the radical Republicans in
an attempt to bring reconciliation to a shattered union.
was the son of an advisor to presidents and the brother of Montgomery Blair,
President Abraham Lincoln’s first postmaster general. He attended the College
of New Jersey, was granted a law degree from Transylvania College in Kentucky
and served briefly as attorney general of the New Mexico Territory in 1847.
There, he first clashed with military governor Sterling Price, who was to
be one of Blair’s major foes in the fight for Missouri loyalty. As a Missouri
congressman in May 1861, Blair teamed with Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon
to wrest the St. Louis Arsenal from Confederate hands in the Camp Jackson
Blair recruited seven
regiments during the summer of 1862 and was commissioned a Union brigadier
general on August 7, 1862. By November of that year, he was a major general,
leading a division in the Yazoo Expedition and earning plaudits from Major
General William T. Sherman
for his leadership at Chickasaw Bluffs early in the Vicksburg Campaign.
Blair was commanding the Union line north of Vicksburg when Lieutenant General
John C. Pemberton surrendered the city to Major General Ulysses S. Grant
on July 4, 1863. At the Battle of Chattanooga, he led the XV Corps, and
during Sherman’s drive toward Atlanta, Blair commanded the XVII Corps in
bloody fighting. After the fall of Atlanta, Blair led his corps in the "March
to the Sea". He was in Goldsboro, North Carolina when word came that General
Robert E. Lee had surrendered.
Grant and Sherman, highly critical of most "political" generals, rated Blair
one of the most competent military leaders of the war. Blair became the
Democratic nominee for vice president in 1868 and was appointed to the senate
in 1871 to fill a vacant seat. Blair died in St. Louis on July 9, 1875.
Contribution by Dean E. Smith in Historical Times Illustrated
Encyclopedia of the Civil War, Patricia L. Faust, Editor, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY 1986
Photo of Gen. Blair courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
"The Union Army March", composed 1861, by George A. Mietzke
Midi File courtesy of Benjamin Robert Tubb [webpage]
Image of 107th at Woodbury from : New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Text by Don Palmer.
HTML and Graphics Editing by Scott Williams
Copyright 1999. U.S. Grant Camp #68. St. Louis, MO