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HERRON, Francis J.

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Photo courtesy: Iowa in the Civil War. IaGenWeb Project.
Francis J. Herron

HERRON, Francis J. (Pittsburg, PA, February 17, 1837--New York, Jan. 8, 1902). MEDAL OF HONOR recipient, Lieutenant Colonel, 9th Iowa Infantry. One of Dubuque's two Medal of Honor recipients in the CIVIL WAR, Herron briefly attended the Western University of Pennsylvania, but left to become a bank clerk with Herron and Brothers Bank in Pittsburgh. (1) In 1855, he moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he opened a bank with his brothers. (2)

In 1859, Herron formed a militia group called the GOVERNOR'S GREYS and offered the services of his unit to President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Although they were turned down, Herron and his men had the distinction of being the first troops to volunteer for the Civil War. In April 1861, the Governor’s Greys became part of the 1st Iowa Volunteer Infantry; Herron was appointed its captain. The regiment saw service in Missouri, fighting with General Nathaniel Lyon’s troops in the battles of Boonville and Wilson’s Creek. (3)

Dubuque Herald, April 30, 1861. Image courtesy: Diane Harris

Herron received his commendation for action on May 7, 1862, during the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He was cited for gallantly leading his men in battle until he was disabled when his horse was killed and he was captured. (4)

Herron was later exchanged for a Confederate officer and was promoted from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general. He continued his service to the Union for the remainder of the Civil War. Herron was made commander of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the Army of the Frontier in Missouri, and in December of 1862, he further distinguished himself by coming to the aid of General James G. Blunt’s forces at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Herron and his men made a forced march of over 100 miles in three days to attack Confederate General Thomas C. Hindman’s troops and force them into a retreat. (5) For his quick and decisive actions, Herron was promoted to major general, becoming the youngest man to hold that rank at that time in the war. (6)

By June of 1863, the Army of the Frontier was dismantled, and Herron led his division to join General Ulysses S. Grant in the siege of Vicksburg. Herron served with distinction commanding “Herron’s Division." (7) As the war ended, he commanded the District of Northern Louisiana. (8) After the fall of Vicksburg, Herron was one of three generals chosen to accept the formal surrender on July 4, 1863. (9) In 1864 he was appointed to the command of the District of the Frontier along the Rio Grande, River. (10)

In the early 1890s Dubuque residents were angered when plans for a proposed soldiers and sailors monument on the Statehouse grounds in Des Moines did not include his likeness. See: George W. HEALEY.

Following the war, Herron practiced law in New Orleans. He held the position of U.S. Marshal from 1867-69 and served as Secretary of State for Louisiana in 1872-73 before moving to New York City, where he practiced law until his death. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Long Island, NY. A bronze bust of Herron has stood at Vicksburg National Military Park since 1914. (11)

Oliver Perry SHIRAS, George Shiras and Francis J. Herron were second cousins. Oliver & George Shiras's mother Eliza and Francis J. Herron were first cousins. (12)

The Shiras and Herron brothers all came to Dubuque around 1855 from the Pittsburgh area. George Shiras II (b.1806) married Elizabeth Perry Herron and raised George Jr. (III); (b. 1832), Oliver Perry (b. 1833); and Francis Herron Shiras. Eliza Herron's (b.1809) father was Francis J. Herron's (b. 1837) uncle--Rev. Francis Herron (b. 1774). Francis J. Herron's father was Francis Herron's brother and Francis J. Herron's uncle John Herron Jr. (b. 1792). Elizabeth Herron Shiras and Francis J. Herron's grandfather was also named John Herron Sr. (13)

Francis J. Herron's brother, David R. Herron, was the Lieutenant in the 3rd Iowa Light Artillery Battery, also known as the Dubuque Battery, organized in Dubuque. Besides Oliver P. Shiras serving as aid de camp to Br. Gen. Francis J. Herron during the Civil War, Herron had a nephew, James A. Herron, son of brother William A. Herron (b. 1821), who served on his staff. (14)

It should also be noted U.S. Supreme Court Justice George SHIRAS, Jr. married Dubuque born Lillie E. Kennedy (b. 1842) daughter of Robert T. Kennedy (b. 1819). It appears Robert T. Kennedy and several of his children are buried in Dubuque. (15)



1. "Lt. Col. Francis Jay Herron," Iowa Medal of Honor Heroes, Online: http://www.iowahistory.org/museum/exhibits/medal-of-honor/sf-01-herron-cw/index.htm

2. "Francis J. Herron," Civil War Trust, Online: http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/francis-j-herron.html

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Trans-Mississippi Theater/Photo Archive. Online: http://ozarkscivilwar.org/photographs/herron-francis-j/

6. Moeller, Hubert L. "Iowa Generals in the Civil War," The Des Moines Register, February 19, 1934

7. "Lt. Col. Francis Jay Herron,"

8. Ibid.

9. "Francis J. Herron."

10. "Lt. Col. Francis J. Herron"

11. "General Herron," Dubuque Democratic Herald, January 30, 1864, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=A36e8EsbUSoC&dat=18640130&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

12. Geneology research by John Pregler

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.