Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Fighting Joe" Wheeler

"Fighting Joe" lived up to his nickname throughout his military career.

He acquired the name while defending a wagon train from Indians shortly after he graduated from West Point in 1859.

When the Civil War began he entered the Confederate Army and served as commander of cavalry in the Army of the Mississippi. After the surrender, he returned to his home in Georgia, where he was elected to Congress and served for seventeen years.

"Fighting Joe" loved the Army and eventually he re-enlisted. During the Spanish-American War, he served as a Major General. He and Fitz-Hugh Lee have the unique distinction of commanding corps in both the Confederate and Union Armies.

Shortly after his arrival in Cuba, he attacked a Spanish position in the village of Las Guasimas. As the Spanish fled, he allegedly shouted, "Give it them, lads. We got the damn Yankees on the run!"

During the advance on Santiago, he contracted a bad case of malaria, but true to his spirit he remained in his saddle and led his men across the San Juan under heavy fire.

Wheeler also served in the Philippines.

When in died in 1906, he was buried in his U.S. Army uniform. An old Confederate soldier who came to pay his respects was surprised by his clothing.

"Jeesus, General, I hate to think of what old Stonewall's going to say when he sees you in that uniform."

From West Point - Two Centuries of Honor and Tradition, Warner Books, p. 132.

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