Major George B. Crittenden was from an important Kentucky family and his father was a U.S. Senator from that state. He served in the Mexican War and later went on to become a Confederate general. Crittenden had a problem with alcohol throughout his service and this surfaced significantly while he was...
Major George B. Crittenden was from an important Kentucky family and his father was a U.S. Senator from that state. He served in the Mexican War and later went on to become a Confederate general. Crittenden had a problem with alcohol throughout his service and this surfaced significantly while he was in Mexico. There he performed admirably in combat, and received a brevet for gallantry at the bottle of Churubusco. However, he was constantly intemperate in his personal conduct and was charged with drunkenness several times, resigned his commission, and through the efforts of his father was reinstated in the army. In 1848, George was again arrested for drunkenness on duty. This time President Polk was not inclined to let him escape court-martial by resigning; a court martial was ordered and conducted at the castle at Perote from June 16-26, 1848. He pled not guilty and a lengthy trial was conducted. Presiding over the proceedings was Major Albert S. Miller, a hero of Monterey, and acting as jury were seven officers from captain to major, among whom were future luminaries of the Civil War: Confederate General Theophilus H. Holmes, Union General Samuel P. Heintzelman, Union General Silas Casey, and Union Colonel Electus Backus. Future Union General Charles C. Gilbert was Judge Advocate, and Lorenzo Thomas, who went on to become the Adjutant General of the United States, was then asst. adjutant general for General William O. Butler and was in charge of managing the trial. Witnesses were called, testimony taken, and a 44-page trial record was built. Crittenden was convicted and “cashiered” from the army. President Polk himself approved of the verdict and sentence.
George’s father, Senator Crittenden, took up his son’s cause and pleaded for the help of others. Jefferson Davis, an old family friend, went to bat for him and Crittenden was reinstated in the army because of his influence. This is an official transcript of the entire proceedings dated January 31, 1849, marked “True copy” and signed by Roger Jones. Jones, an officer in the War of 1812, served as Adjutant General of the U.S. Army from 1825 to 1852. He received brevets to brigadier general in 1832 and to major general in 1848. This copy was likely used in the effort to get Crittenden reinstated, or perhaps in opposition to such efforts. The document ended up in the papers of Union General Hugh Ewing, though whether he has a connection to Crittenden or came upon the document during the war is not known.
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