On this day in 1863, Confederate General Roger Weightman Hanson dies at age 35 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His death was a result of wounds sustained two days earlier at the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee.
Hanson was born in 1827 in Clark City, Tennessee. He served during the Mexican War (1846-48) and was a lawyer and a colonel in the Kentucky State Guard before the Civil War. He joined the Confederate army in September 1861 and received a commission as colonel in the 2nd Kentucky. He was assigned to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and when Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured the post on February 16, 1862, Hanson was sent to a Federal prison. He was exchanged after eight months and placed in command of the so-calledOrphan Brigade.
The Orphan Brigade was a unit composed of 5,000 Kentucky residents who were cut off from their homes by the Union occupation of their state. In December 1862, Hanson and his men marched with General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry to Hartsville, Tennessee, on a raid that netted 2,000 Union prisoners. The brigade then joined the Army of Tennessee for the Stones River campaign later that month. During the battle, which lasted from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, the Orphan Brigade participated in a failed attack on Union artillery positions. The cannonade against the Kentucky fighters was so strong that one Union officer commented that the Confederates must have thought that they had “opened the door of Hell, and the devil himself was there to greet them.” Hanson was struck in the leg during the attack, anddied on January 4.