Roger Weightman Hanson (August 27, 1827 – January 4, 1863) was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. The commander of the famed "Orphan Brigade," he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro. He was nicknamed "Old Flintlock."
Hanson was born in Clark County, Kentucky. His father, Samuel Hanson, was a well-known attorney and judge who had moved to Kentucky from Virginia. Hanson's father was Swedish. His mother Matilda Calloway was the daughter of a general. At age 18, Hanson was elected a lieutenant in a volunteer company in the Mexican-American War. He was cited for bravery at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He returned home and studied law in Lexington, Kentucky, where he engaged in a duel with a classmate. He was shot in the leg just above the knee, making him lame for the rest of his life. When he recovered, Hanson travelled to California, losing his horse on the way and being forced to walk over 200 miles to San Francisco on his injured leg. He returned to Kentucky within a year. In 1853, he married Virginia Peters of Woodford County, Kentucky.
The following year, Hanson moved to Lexington and established a profitable law practice. Entering politics, Hanson was elected to the Kentucky state legislature as a representative from his home district. He was nominated in 1857 to run for the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky's 8th District, but was defeated by James B. Clay. In 1860, he was one of the electors in the Electoral College from Kentucky.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Kentucky declared its neutral and stayed in the Union. Hanson was named as colonel of a regiment of Confederate troops he had raised in Lexington, Kentucky but which enlisted in Tennessee because of Kentucky's neutrality. When President Abraham Lincoln sent Federal troops into Lexington and raised the Union flag over the city, Hanson and his 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment were "orphaned", since they could not return home unless Lexington fell to the Confederates. The regiment was taken prisoner with the surrender of Fort Donelson. After being exchanged 7 months later, Hanson was presented with a new horse by admiring friends. He regiment reenlisted for the war, and Hanson was promoted to brigadier general in December 1862, commanding his old regiment as well as the 4th, 6th and 19th Kentucky Infantry regiments, plus the 41st Alabama Regiment and Cobb's Battery, in Breckinridge's division, Hardee's corps.
In his first battle as a general, Hanson was severely wounded on January 2, 1863, during a charge at Murfreesboro (Stones River) when he was struck above the knee by the fuse of a spent artillery shell. His brother-in-law vainly tried to stop the bleeding. He died two days later at the age of 35, with his last words as "I die in a just cause, having done my duty." General Breckinridge remarked in his official report, "Endeared to his friends by his private virtues and to his command by the vigilance with which he guarded its interest and honor, he was, by the universal testimony of his military associates, one of the finest officers that adorned the service of the Confederate States."
Hanson was buried at Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky.
The General Roger W. Hanson Camp# 1844 (Winchester, Kentucky) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was named in his memory.
- Owen and Owen, Generals at Rest, p. 81.
- Hanson family history, derived from Louisville newspapers
- Official Records of the American Civil War
- Richard Owen; James Owen (1997). Generals at Rest: The Grave Sites of the 425 Official Confederate Generals. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co.. ISBN 1-57249-045-4.
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