1806-64, American Episcopal bishop and Confederate general in the Civil War, b. Raleigh, N.C. He left the army to study for the ministry and was ordained in 1831. He served as missionary bishop of the Southwest (1838-41) and bishop of Louisiana (1841-61) and was the principal founder of the Univ. of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. (1857). In the Civil War he became a major general (June, 1861) in the Confederate army and was at first engaged in the defense of the Mississippi River. He commanded a corps at Shiloh (Apr., 1862), was promoted to lieutenant general shortly after fighting at Perryville (Oct.), and commanded the Confederate right at Murfreesboro (Dec., 1862-Jan., 1863). In the Chattanooga campaign Braxton Bragg accused him of dilatoriness at Chickamauga (Sept.) and had him relieved. Polk assumed command of the Army of Mississippi (Dec.) and fought in the Atlanta campaign until he was killed (June, 1864) at Pine Mountain, Ga.
See biography by J. H. Parks (1962); K. Elgin, The Episcopalians (1970).
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