John W. Frazer

Portrait of John W. Frazer
Wikimedia Commons
TitleBrigader Genreal
War & AffiliationCivil War / Confederate
Date of Birth - DeathJanuary 6, 1827 - March 16, 1906

John W. Frazer was born in Hardin County, Tennessee, and received an appointment to West Point in 1845. In 1849 he graduated 34th in his class and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 9th United States Infantry and primarily saw service in Washington state. However, when the Civil War broke out, Frazer resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army, and began recruiting soldiers for the army in and around Louisiana. In June 1861, Frazer was appointed lieutenant colonel in the 8th Alabama Infantry and later took command of the 28th Alabama in mid-1862. Frazer and his regiment participated in the Kentucky Heartland Campaign and were at the siege and subsequent capture of the Union garrison at Munfordville on September 17th, 1862. 

In the summer of 1863, Frazer was promoted to brigadier general. After his appointment, Frazer was given command of the Cumberland Gap garrison in August of 1863, by order of Gen. Simon B. Buckner, Department of East Tennessee commander. Frazer's 2,400-man brigade was comprised of 55th Georgia, 62nd North Carolina, 64th North Carolina, 64th Virginia infantries, and the 1st Tennessee Cavalry. Though his men were largely untrained in combat, Frazer worked tirelessly to rebuild the garrison's defenses. In late August, Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside launched his Knoxville Campaign and largely bypassed the Cumberland Gap but left a small undersized brigade to skirmish with Frazer's northern front. Frazer believed that this brigade under the command of Col. John DeCourcy was, in fact, much larger than it was. By September 7th, 1863, more Federal reinforcements arrived from the newly captured city of Knoxville. After pushing in his outer lines, Frazer was called upon to surrender his garrison two times, both of which he declined. When reinforcements under Burnside arrived, Frazer finally surrendered his entire garrison, except 100-300 soldiers who were able to escape north via Harlan Road. For the rest of the war, Frazer was imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. Because of this surrender, he was branded as a coward and stripped of his brigadier general commission. After the war, Frazer moved to Arkansas and New York, where he died in 1906.


Related Battles

Hart County, KY | September 14, 1862
Result: Confederate Victory
Estimated Casualties