A Civil War Biography

Claudius Wistar Sears

Sears was born 8 November 1817 in Peru, Massachusetts. He attended West Point, graduating 41st (some sources say 31st) in the class of 1841. He resigned from the army in 1842 to become a teacher and college professor. He taught at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and served as the dean of that university from 1850 until 1861 when Tulane closed for the duration of the war.

Sears, although northern born, decided to side with the south. He enlisted as a private in the 17th Mississippi and was later named the regiment's captain. In December 1862 he was elected colonel of the 46th Mississippi and saw action at Chickasaw Bluffs and during the Vicksburg campaign at Port Gibson and Champion's Hill. Sears along with the 46th Mississippi were besieged in Vicksburg and surrendered on 4 July 1863. Having been exchanged Sears was promoted to brigadier general on 1 March 1864. He commanded a brigade in Samuel G. French's division during the Atlanta campaign and at Allatoona, Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. Sears lost a leg at Nashville and was captured near Pulaski, Tennessee a few days later.

When finally paroled, more than two months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Sears was named chairman of the Mathematics Department at the University of Mississippi. He held that position until retiring in 1889. Sears died on 15 February 1891.

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