Leonidas Polk

The Right Reverend Leonidas Polk was a Bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and a Lieutenant-General in the Army of the Confederate States of America. Bishop Polk studied for the ministry after his graduation from the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He earned his theology degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. and was ordained to the diaconate in 1830 by the Rt. Rev. Richard Channing Moore, Bishop of Virginia. His first charge in the ministry was as assistant minister of the Monumental Church under Bishop Moore, who was rector of that church as well as bishop of the diocese. After a service of more than a year, and his ordination to the priesthood, the young minister resigned to enter upon an ever widening career which saw him the first Missionary Bishop of the Southwest in 1838, first Bishop of Louisiana in 1841, founder of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in 1858, and Lieutenant-General in the Confederate States Army in 1861.

In leaving his pulpit to enter the war, Bishop Polk said: "I do not throw away the bishop's gown for the sword. I merely buckle on the sword over the gown." Polk, known as Louisiana's "fighting bishop," commanded the First Corps of the Army of Tennessee and took part in the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, among others. He was fatally injured by cannon fire in a skirmish with Union troops near Marietta, Georgia on 14 June 1864 during the War Between the States. He was buried in Augusta, Georgia and afterwards was reinterred in Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans.


General Leonidas Polk, C.S.A.: the Fighting Bishop - Joseph Parks "Bishop Leonidas Polk's Birthday" by T. Snowden, Sewanee Purple (student newspaper of the University of the South) "A Christian University and the Word" by Andrew Nelson Lytle SewaneeMuseum.org