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Steven Augustus Hurlbut (November 29, 1815 – March 27, 1882), was a politician, diplomat, and commander of the U.S. Army of the Gulf in the American Civil War.


Born in Charleston, South Carolinamarker, Hurlbut studied law and was admitted to the South Carolinamarker bar in 1837. During the Second Seminole Warmarker, he served as adjutant of a South Carolina infantry regiment. In 1845, Hurlbut moved to Illinoismarker, established a law practice in Belvideremarker. He was a presidential elector for the Whig Party in the 1848 Presidential Election. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1859 and again in 1861.

When the Civil War erupted, Hurlbut joined the Union Army and became a brigadier general on May 17, 1861 and a major general on September 17, 1862. He commanded the 4th Division of Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Shilohmarker and in the advance towards Corinthmarker and the subsequent siegemarker. He also led a division at the Battle of Hatchie's Bridge, taking command of the entire Union force after Gen Edward Ord was wounded.

Hurlbut commanded XVI Corps from his headquarters at Memphis, Tennesseemarker. It has been suggested by the historian Bertram Korn, that during his garrison duty at Memphis, Tennesseemarker, Hurlbut issued antisemitic orders confiscating Jewish property and preventing Jews from trading.

Gen Hurlbut led a corps under William T. Sherman in the 1864 Meridian expedition. Hurlbut subsequently commanded the Department of the Gulf, succeeding Nathaniel P. Banks and serving in that capacity for the remainder of the war. Hurlbut was suspected on peculation during his term as department commander.

After mustering out of the Union Army on June 20, 1865, Hurlbut was one of the founding fathers of the Grand Army of the Republic, of which he served as commander-in-chief from 1866 to 1868.

He was appointed Minister Resident to Colombiamarker in 1869, where he served three years. In 1872, Hurlbut was elected as Republican from Illinois to the U.S. House of Representatives, reelected in 1874, he was defeated for reelection in 1876. Hurlbut was made ambassador to Perumarker in 1881, where he served until his death in Limamarker. He had an embarrassing altercation with Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, U.S. minister to Chilemarker during the War of the Pacific. Each had become a partisan of the country to which he was the US diplomatic representative.

Hurlbut and his spouse are buried together in Belvidere Cemetery, Belvidere, Illinoismarker.

See also


  • According to Donald T. Phillips, the author of Lincoln on Leadership 1992, Hachette Book Group,N.Y., N.Y., Stephen A. Hurlbut was "one of his (Lincoln's) trusted colleagues." Lincoln sent him "on a fact-finding mission to Charleston .... to meet with the Confederate leaders, evaluate the situation (i.e., the crisis developing over Ft. Sumter) and report back...." "War, according to Hurlbut, was inevitable, unless the South was allowed to secede." As a result of this report, "Lincoln decide to resupply the emabattled fort; if his ships were fired upon, it would be the Confederacy that started the war, not the Union."


  • Lash, Jeffrey N. (Jeffrey Norman), A politician turned general: the Civil War career of Stephen Augustus Hurlbut. Kent, Ohio; London: Kent State University Press, 2003.

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