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Alexander, Edward Porter (26 May 1835–28 April 1910), Confederate soldier and author, was born in Washington, Georgia, the son of Adam Leopold Alexander, a planter and banker, and Sarah Hillhouse Gilbert. Educated by tutors in his wealthy family’s household, Alexander entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1853 and graduated third in the class of 1857. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant of engineers on 1 July 1857 and was promoted to second lieutenant on 10 October 1858. Marked from the first as a promising officer, he taught at West Point immediately upon graduation, accompanied ...

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Benjamin Church. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-96233).

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Church, Benjamin (1639–17 January 1718), soldier, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Church, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Warren. He married Alice Southworth in 1667; the couple had eight children. Early in life Church followed his father’s trade, and he first appeared in public records as a trial juror in Plymouth, 25 October 1668. Two years later he was listed as a freeman of “Duxburrow” (Duxbury, Plymouth Colony), where he also sat on trial juries and served as constable. In 1674 he acquired land in Saconet (later Little Compton, R.I.) from the Plymouth General Court and claimed to be “the first English Man that built upon that Neck, which was full of Indians.” Church described himself as “a Person of uncommon Activity and Industry,” though little is known of his personal life at the time. He gained the favor of the local Indians and, by his own estimation, even won their “great esteem.” He became acquainted with Awashonks, the “Squaw Sachem” of the Sakonnet Indians, and their friendship led to Church’s early involvement in ...

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Dumont de Montigny, Jean-François-Benjamin (31 July 1696–1760), officer in the French colonial military in Quebec and Louisiana, historian, and memoirist, was born in Paris, France, to Jacques-François Dumont and Françoise Delamare. His father was a magistrate in the parlement of Paris, the most important of the French high courts of appeal. He was the youngest of six sons and something of a black sheep compared with his brothers, who achieved prominence as lawyers and priests....

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Holt, David Eldred (27 November 1843–05 November 1925), Confederate soldier, salesman, writer, and minister, was born on the family plantation at Athlone, Mississippi, the son of Dr. David Holt, physician, and Juliette White. The plantation was located between Natchez and Woodville, the Wilkinson County seat. In 1844 David's family moved to Natchez. There, Dr. Holt's medical practice thrived, and he built a new home called "Oddity Hall" due to its unique and unusual construction. Growing up in that house helped to forge the David's sense of devotion to family. Association with slaves and relatives, attendance of camp meetings and baptisms in the local river, and childhood pranks with friends all molded David's perceptions of life and religion. David was particularly close to his physician brother, Joseph Jackson Holt. His memoirs and correspondence later in life revealed the special bond and relationship the two shared....

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Puller, Lewis Burwell, Jr. (18 August 1945–11 May 1994), marine corps officer and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, was born at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the son of General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, one of the most highly decorated marines in American history, and Virginia Montague Evans Puller, a schoolteacher. He had two sisters. The Puller family could trace their military tradition back to Major John Puller, a confederate cavalryman, who died while fighting in 1863. Lewis Puller, Sr., spent thirty-seven years in the marines, retiring in 1955, and there was never any doubt that his only son would follow in his footsteps. While young Puller was growing up in rural Virginia, his family would be visited at any time of the day or evening by former marines stopping by to pay homage to the decorated three-star general. Lewis, Jr., completed his secondary education at Christchurch School in 1962 and then attended William and Mary College, graduating in 1967. He promptly joined the marines, receiving his basic training at Quantico, Virginia, followed by a stint at the Marine's Officer Candidate School, from which he emerged as a second lieutenant in July 1968. The next month he married Linda Ford Todd, with whom he had two children. Later that same month, Puller was sent to Vietnam as a platoon commander in the Second Battalion of the First Marine Regiment of the First Marine Division....

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Smith, James (1737–1814), soldier and author, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Little is known of his parents and early life. Apparently he received no formal education, but he did learn a great deal about woodlore and life on the frontier. At the age of eighteen he was captured by American Indians while laboring to clear a road in western Pennsylvania and was adopted into one of their tribes. For four years he traveled with them through the old Northwest, then he managed to escape. Returning to his birthplace, he settled into a life of farming. In 1763 he married Anne Wilson, with whom he had seven children before she died twenty years later. He also became an active military campaigner, serving off and on from 1763 to 1769 as commander of the “Black Boys,” a self-appointed group of irregulars that protected white settlements in his region from Indian depredations. In 1764 he joined ...

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Trobriand, Régis Dénis de (04 June 1816–15 July 1897), soldier and writer, was born Philippe-Régis-Dénis de Keredern near Tours, France, the son of Joseph-Vincent-Pierre-Marie-Dénis de Keredern, Baron de Trobriand, a general in the French army of Napoleon and the Restoration, and Rosine Hachin de Courbeville. As a boy, the younger Trobriand was a page in the restored Bourbon court and was trained to be a soldier until the revolution of 1830 displaced the Bourbon king with the Orléanist, Louis-Philippe. The elder Trobriand refused to serve the new regime and forbade his son to serve in the army. Baron de Trobriand’s disgust with the Orléanists was so great that he dropped Philippe from his son’s name, and the younger Trobriand was known as Régis for the rest of his life....

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Lew Wallace Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-32868).

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Wallace, Lew (10 April 1827–15 February 1905), soldier and author, was born Lewis Wallace at Brookville, Indiana, the son of David Wallace, a soldier and later governor of Indiana, and Esther French Test, who died when Lew was only seven years old. His earliest education was unproductive, the boy rebelling against the strictness of a rural schoolmaster for whom, as Wallace described it in his 1906 autobiography, “flogging was a fine art which he seemed fearful of losing.” But his mother encouraged his learning by making available to him Jane Porter’s romantic history ...

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James H. Wilson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2074).

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Wilson, James Harrison (02 September 1837–23 February 1925), army officer and author, was born near Shawneetown, Illinois, the son of Harrison Wilson, a county official and farmer-rancher, and Katharine Schneyder. He attended McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, for one year to prepare himself for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Entering West Point in 1855, Wilson graduated sixth in a class of forty-one cadets in 1860 and became a second lieutenant of engineers....