Grierson, Benjamin Henry

Grierson, Benjamin Henry

(1826–1911) soldier; born in Pittsburgh, Pa. The son of Irish immigrants, he taught music before joining an Illinois regiment shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War. Although he claimed to despise horses, he accepted a transfer to the 6th Illinois Cavalry; Grant chose him to lead what became the most famous federal cavalry raid of the war. Leaving LaGrange, Tenn., on April 17, 1863, he took 1,700 troopers on a 600-mile gallop of destruction through Mississippi (arriving in Louisiana on May 2), an effective strategic diversion for Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. He saw long postwar service on the frontier, retiring as a brigadier general in 1890.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.