Richard Caswell Gatlin Bio-Sketch


Name: Richard Caswell Gatlin
Rank: Brigadier General
Education: United States Military Academy
Birth Date: January 18, 1809
Birthplace: Kinston, NC (Lenoir County)
Death Date: September 8, 1896
Death Place: Mount Nebo, AR

Richard Caswell Gatlin was born to parents, John Slade Gatlin and Susannah Caswell Gatlin, in Kinston, NC on January 18, 1809. His namesake was his maternal grandfather, Richard Caswell, the first North Carolina Governor. Gatlin graduated from the United States military academy in West Point, NY. He graduated 35th in the Class of 1832.

Upon his graduation, he received a commission to second lieutenant of infantry. In this posting, he served in the Native American Territory.  He served in the U. S. Army during the Seminole Wars in 1839-1842. After the Seminole Wars ended in 1842, he served in Louisiana. The year 1845 brought a promotion to captain and relocation to Texas.  He served during the Mexican War in the defense of Fort Brown in 1846.  Gatlin received a wound during the Battle of Monterey assault. He then took part in the Seminole Wars of 1849-1850. He served various frontier assignments until the Utah War began. In this role, he marched with Albert Sydney Johnston to Utah. He met and married Mary Ann Gibson in 1857. He received a promotion to the rank of major before resigning his commission in April of 1861 to serve the State of North Carolina in the War Between the States.

Gatlin received a promotion to Major General of Militia and assignment as Adjutant General for the State of North Carolina. He received a commission of colonel in the regular army of the Confederacy.  He took command of the Southern Department of North Carolina including the coastal defenses. He was promoted to Brigadier General in the regular army and was given total command of the N. C. Department and coastal defenses in August 1861.

Gatlin had only briefly assumed command when the Union forces took Fort Hatteras. He then focused his defense on New Bern, NC.  Upon his suggestion, the authorities formed a Coastal North Carolina District and assigned Daniel Harvey Hill to command it.  New Bern fell in March of 1862 despite requests by Caswell to receive reinforcements.

Gatlin began to suffer from severe and debilitating illness and was relieved of his duties in March of 1862. Gatlin resigned in September of 1862 but served as the Adjutant and Inspector General of North Carolina.

Upon the end of the war, Richard Caswell Gatlin moved to Arkansas with his wife and settled in Sebastian County as a farmer. He remained in this area until 1881 when he and his wife moved to Fort Smith, AR. He passed away on September 8, 1896. He and his wife rest at Fort Smith National Cemetery in Fort Smith, AR.