Wednesday, July 8, 2009

General Francis L. Shoup at Prairie Grove

One of the more fascinating participants in the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, was Brigadier General Francis A. Shoup.

A native of Indiana, Shoup was Northern born and raised. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from Indiana and graduated 15th in the Class of 1854. He served in Florida's Third Seminole War from 1856-1858, chasing small bands of Seminole warriors through the great swamps of South Florida.

By 1860 Shoup had resigned his commission and was back in Indiana. When he learned of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, he formed a company of Zoaves in Indianapolis to defend against possible abolitionist insurrections. When the secession of the Southern states became evident, however, Shoup resigned from the Indianapolis company and walked away from his Indiana friends and family to offer his sword to the Governor of Florida. Moving to St. Augustine, he was appointed a lieutenant by the governor and ordered to erect an artillery battery at Fernandina, Florida. He was soon commissioned into the regular Confederate military.

By October of 1861, he was promoted to Major and served in Kentucky as commander of twelve pieces of artillery with a force of Arkansas troops. At the Battle of Shiloh, he commanded artillery and was the officer that massed the Confederate artillery against Union General Prentiss's troops in one of of the most brutal open field bombardments of the war.

After Shiloh, Shoup was ordered west to Arkansas where Major General Hindman was organizing a new army. Promoted to Brigadier General, he served as Hindman's Chief of Artillery and was on the field at the Battle of Prairie Grove.

After Prairie Grove, Shoup was ordered to Mobile, Alabama, but was in Missisippi for the Battle of Vicksburg, where he was among those captured on July 4, 1863. Eventually exchanged, he served during the Atlanta Campaign and was among those who urged the Confederate Congress to allow the enlistment of slaves in the Confederate Army.

After the war, Shoup entered the ministry with the Episcopal Church and eventually became a professor of metaphysics at the University of the South in Tennessee. He authored books on infantry tactics and algebra.

To learn more about the Battle of Prairie Grove, please visit

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