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This Day in Georgia History

September 10, 1836

Joseph Wheeler, Jr. Born

To view an image of Joseph Wheeler, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Joseph Wheeler, Jr. was born in Augusta, Georgia. After his mother died in 1842, his father took the family to Connecticut, where he owned part interest in a textile mill. After graduating from West Point in 1859, he was assigned to the New Mexico Territory in 1860. Here, during an encounter with hostile Indians, he earned the nickname “Fightin’ Joe” - perhaps a particular compliment as he was only 5’5” tall and weighed 120 pounds. In April 1861, Wheeler resigned from the U.S. Army to accept a commission as a lieutenant in a Georgia artillery unit. In July 1862, he became commander of a cavalry division. After several key actions, he was promoted to brigadier general in October 1862. During his service to the Confederacy, Wheeler had 16 horses shot out from under him. After the Civil War, he moved to Alabama, where in 1880 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Wheeler re-entered military service in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War as chief of cavalry for the Fifth Army Corps. During that conflict, he participated in several battles in Cuba - including San Juan Hill. Wheeler died on January 25, 1906 while visiting his sister in Brooklyn, New York. Subsequently, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. - one of two Confederate generals interred in Arlington.