Alfred Iverson, Jr.
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Personal Information
Born: February 14, 1829(1829-02-14)
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Died: March 31, 1911 (aged 82)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
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Branch: Confederate States Army
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Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
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Battles: Mexican-American War
American Civil War
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Other work: {{{otherwork}}}


Alfred Iverson, Jr. (February 14, 1829 – March 31, 1911) was a lawyer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He is best known for a disastrous infantry assault at the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Iverson was born in Clinton, Jones County, Georgia. He was the son of Alfred Iverson, Sr., United States Senator for Georgia and a fierce proponent of secession, and Caroline Goode Holt. The senator decided on a military career for his son and enrolled him in the Tuskegee Military Institute.

Iverson's career as a soldier began at the age of 17, when the Mexican-American War began. His father raised and equipped a regiment of Georgia volunteers and young Iverson left Tuskegee to become a second lieutenant in the regiment. He left the service, in July 1848, to become a lawyer and contractor. In 1855, his Mexican-American War experience gained him a commission as a first lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Cavalry regiment.

Civil War[edit | edit source]

At the start of the Civil War, Iverson resigned from the U.S. Army and received a commission from his father's old friend, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, as Colonel of the 20th North Carolina Infantry, a unit he played a strong role in recruiting. His regiment was initially stationed in North Carolina, but was called to the Virginia Peninsula, in June 1862, for the Seven Days Battles. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Gaines' Mill, in the division commanded by Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill, by leading the only successful regiment of the five that were assigned to capture a Union artillery battery. Iverson was severely wounded in the charge and his regiment took heavy casualties. Unfortunately for Iverson and the Confederacy, this battle would turn out to be the high point of his military career.

Iverson recovered in time to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia in the Maryland Campaign. In the Battle of South Mountain, his entire brigade retreated after their brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland, was mortally wounded. Iverson's regiment also ran away at the Battle of Antietam a few days later, although he was able to rally them to return to the battle. After the battle, Iverson was promoted to brigadier general on November 1, 1862, and given command of the brigade, causing the more senior colonel who had been in temporary command to resign from the Army in disgust. His first assignment commanding his new brigade was at the Battle of Fredericksburg, but he was assigned to the reserve and saw no action. Conflict soon resulted, however. When he attempted to name a new colonel for the 20th North Carolina, a personal friend from outside of the regiment, 26 of his field officers signed a letter of protest against the action. Iverson attempted to arrest all 26 officers, but eventually cooled off. His friend was not placed as the new colonel, but Iverson petulantly refused all winter to promote any of the other candidates for the position.

At Chancellorsville, Iverson's brigade participated in Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's famous flanking march, suffering heavy casualties (including Iverson himself, wounded in the groin by a spent shell), but managed to get less credit and notice than two other brigades in the line. He also continued his poor relations with his subordinates. Returning to the rear to get support for his flank, many of his officers concluded that he was shirking. His reasonable performance at Gaines' Mill the previous year forgotten, rumors swirled that he had achieved his command only by family political influence.

The nadir of his career was at the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 1, 1863, while leading his brigade in the division of Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes, he launched an ill-considered assault without reconnaissance into a Union Army position concealed and protected by a stone wall, to the northwest of town. His brigade suffered heavy casualties, with many of the men dropping dead in a straight line from a surprise volley of rifle fire. Iverson's actions were considered galling because he did not accompany his brigade on the assault and, when the helpless survivors raised white handkerchiefs to hold off further Union fire, he raged in anger that they were cowards. His conduct became so irrational (some accounts suggest that he was drunk)[1] that he was removed from brigade command for the rest of the battle; in fact, he had not much of a brigade left, having suffered 458 casualties within seconds. (The men were later buried in shallow graves on this spot on Oak Ridge, which is known to locals as Iverson's Pits, and is a favorite site for believers in the supernatural.) Gen. Robert E. Lee assigned Iverson as a temporary provost marshal, which removed him from combat command, and, in October 1863, removed him altogether from the Army of Northern Virginia, ordering him back to Georgia to organize cavalry. On the request of Gen Howell Cobb he commanded the cavalry of the Georgia State Guard until its enlistment expired in February 1864.

In 1864, Iverson commanded a cavalry division - formerly led by Maj. Gen. William T. Martin, under Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, during Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. A minor action at Sunshine Church near Macon on July 31, 1864, culminated in the defeat and capture of U.S. Maj. Gen. George Stoneman (the highest ranking Union prisoner of the war) and 500 of his cavalrymen. The city of Macon gave Iverson and his men a celebratory welcome.

Iverson was on duty in North Carolina at the end of the war. As commander in Greensboro he watched his garrison slip away until it was unable to stop fugitive soldiers from plundering part of the city.[2]

Postbellum[edit | edit source]

File:Alfrediversonjr.jpg

Grave of Alfred Iverson, Jr., Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia

After the war, Iverson engaged in business at Macon, moving to Florida in 1877 to farm oranges. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, and is buried there in Oakland Cemetery.

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

Iverson is a character in the novel Iverson's Pits by Dan Simmons, a fictional account of a survivor of Gettysburg who attempts to get revenge on Iverson for his foolish military actions.

Iverson is also the inspiration for the character Captain Michael Iverson in the theatrical production Ironic Eight by Graham Rees.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Pfanz, p. 177.
  2. Bradley, p. 153.

External links[edit | edit source]

da:Alfred Iverson ru:Иверсон, Альфред

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