BORN: 1820 in Nashville, TN. DIED: 1886 in Nashville, TN. CAMPAIGNS: Belmont, Shiloh, Perryville, Stone's River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Nashville. HIGHEST RANK ACHIEVED: Major General.
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 20, 1820. He became a farmer, but maintained a strong interest in military affairs. Serving as a captain and a colonel of Tennessee in the Mexican War, he became well-known for his abilities as a commander, his boldness and his ferocity as a fighter. Cheatham went on to become a major general in the Tennessee State Militia, but left the state to take part in the 1849 California Gold Rush. He returned to Tennessee in 1853. Early in the war, Gov. Isham G. Harris, a close friend of Cheatham, commissioned Cheatham a brigadier general, and later a major general., in the Provisional Army of Tennessee. He received a commission in the Confederate Army on July 9, 1861, and was promoted to major general on March 10, 1862. He took part in the Battles of Belmont, Shiloh, Perryville, Stone's River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Nashville. Although he was a talented commander, his career was not without controversy. He was tried in a military court for culpable errors in the Confederate defeat at Spring Hill, but was cleared of all charges. After the trial, Cheatham returned to military duty in North Carolina, surrendering with it in April of 1865. Following the Civil War, Cheatham went back to farming in Tennessee, and ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the US House of Representative in 1872. After writing an account of the Spring Hill incident, which was later published, he served as superintendent of the state prison. From 1885 to his death on September 4, 1886, Cheatham was postmaster in Nashville, Tennessee.