John George Walker was born in Missouri on July 22, 1821. His mother was the niece of Rachel Jackson, the wife of U. S. President Andrew Jackson, and his father came from a distinguished political family in Kentucky. Walker attended the Washington Institute (later Washington University) in St. Louis, graduating in 1844. He joined the U. S. Army’s Regiment of Mounted Rifles in 1846, and served with distinction in Mexico at the Battle of Molino del Ray, where he was wounded. In 1858, he married Sophie Baylor from Texas, whose family had named Baylor University.
When the Civil War began, Walker joined the Confederate Army as a major in July, 1861. Promoted to brigadier general in January 1862, Walker served in the in the division of Brig. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes during the Peninsula Campaign and was wounded at Malvern Hill. He later led a division under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet at South Mountain and Antietam. After the Maryland Campaign, Walker was promoted to major general and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department, where he was given command of 12,000 men in 12 Texas regiments. The Texans under Walker quickly earned the nickname "Walker's Greyhounds" for their ability to march hard and fast. In 1863, The Greyhounds were assigned to Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's Western Louisiana command where they operated against the Union supply line along the Mississippi River opposite Vicksburg, including the battle at Milliken’s Bend in June, 1863. After Vicksburg, Walker’s men operated against the Union Red River Campaign in Louisiana and fought at the battles of Mansfield and Jenkins’s Ferry. Walker was given command of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in 1864, and was later transferred further west where he commanded the District of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. He was later named U. S. Consul in Bogota, Columbia by President Grover Cleveland. Walker died on July 20, 1893 and is buried in Lexington, Virginia