The Death of Francis Marion Walker

Col. Francis Marion Walker

It seemed that the slow bleeding of the Confederate officer corps reached its zenith on July 22. Throughout the campaign, in the nearly continuous fighting from Dalton to the Gate City, the Army of Tennessee was slowly losing its best and brightest. Now as Hood launched the battle for the city, the losses continued to mount at an even faster rate.

As Frank Cheatham’s Tennessee Division rolled over the open space toward the works of the veterans of MacPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, Col. Francis Marion Walker was in the forefront urging his men forward, “his good sword swept in glittering circles above his head.” Walker was on the verge of being promoted to general; indeed, he had commanded Gen. George Maney’s Brigade at the Dead Angle fight at Kennesaw. However, he was now back with his regiment.

As they neared the entrenched line, a minie ball struck Walker, who slumped to his knees, dead.

Walker had been born in 1827 in Kentucky, growing up there and attending Transylvania University, studying Law after a short and uneventful stint as a lieutenant in a Tennessee Regiment that never made it to Mexico during the Mexican War. With his law degree, he moved to Tennessee, eventually settling in the newly established town of Chattanooga. Walker quickly made a good name for himself and was considered to be one of the leading citizens when war clouds gathered. Walker stepped forward and formed a company—of which he was made captain—that was eventually assigned to the 19th Tennessee Infantry regiment. Walker was promoted to Colonel of the regiment following its reorganization after the Battle of Shiloh, and he made a name for himself at Baton Rouge and Murfreesboro.

By the time of the Atlanta Campaign, he was ready for the rank of general. He was another rising star in the army cut down in the bitter harvest of death that was the struggle for Atlanta.

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