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Huger, Benjamin (1805–1877)

Thomas W. Cutrer Biography Entry

Benjamin Huger, army officer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on November 22, 1805, the son of Francis Kinloch and Harriott Lucas (Pinckney) Huger. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1821, and graduated eighth in the class of 1825. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery on July 1 of that year and served on topographical duty until January 1, 1828. After promotion to captain of ordnance on May 30, 1832, he served as commander of a number of federal arsenals, including those at Harper's Ferry and Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and Pikesville and Charleston, South Carolina. He was also a member of the Ordnance Board of the United States Army from 1839 until 1846 and a member of a commission that toured Europe in 1840 to observe modern military methods. During the Mexican War he was Gen. Winfield Scott's chief of ordnance. On March 29, 1847, Huger received a brevet to major for "gallant and meritorious conduct" at the siege of Veracruz and to lieutenant colonel on September 8, 1847, for his role in the storming of Chapultepec Castle. He received a promotion to major on February 15, 1855.

When South Carolina seceded from the Union, Huger resigned from the United States Army and was appointed a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, on June 17, 1861. He was given command of the department of eastern Virginia, which included the vital Norfolk Naval Yard. He was promoted to major general on October 7. With the approach of Gen. George B. McClellan's Union army in the spring of 1862, Huger dismantled the fortifications at Norfolk, destroyed such naval stores and ships as could not be moved, and evacuated the city in May. Among the ships thus scuttled was the captured Union steam frigate Merrimac which was later raised by the Confederates, refitted, and recommissioned as the CSS Virginia. Huger was given command of a division in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army during the Peninsular campaign, but was harshly censured for its mishandling during the battle of Seven Pines (May 31-June 1, 1862) and the Seven Days' battle (June 26-July 2 1862) around Richmond. Relieved of field command on July 12, Huger was returned to his proper element, staff work, and was assigned as inspector of artillery and ordnance. On July 27, 1863, he was made chief of the ordnance bureau of the Trans-Mississippi Department, with headquarters in Marshall, Texas, a position he filled with distinction until the end of the war.

After the war Huger retired to a farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, but returned to Charleston shortly before his death. He was married on February 17, 1831, to his cousin, Elizabeth Pinckney, and was the father of five children. He died on December 7, 1877, and is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Huger, Benjamin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: