About this Famous Person
American military commander and politician
Source : Tim DOWLING
Although of New England ancestry, Joseph Wheeler was born near Augusta, Georgia and spent most of his early life growing up with relatives in Connecticut. However, he was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point from the state of Georgia and always considered himself a Georgian and Southerner.
Wheeler entered West Point in July 1854, barely meeting the height requirement at the time for entry. He graduated on July 1, 1859, placing 19th out of 22 cadets, and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Dragoons. He attended the U.S. Army Cavalry School located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and upon completion was transferred on June 26, 1860, to the Regiment of Mounted Rifles stationed in the New Mexico Territory.
It was while stationed in New Mexico and fighting in a skirmish with Indians that Joseph Wheeler picked up the nickname "Fighting Joe." On September 1, 1860, he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant.
 Civil War
At the start of the Civil War, Wheeler entered the Confederate Army on March 16 as a first lieutenant serving in the Georgia state militia artillery, and then was assigned to Fort Barrancas off of Pensacola, Florida, reporting to Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg. His resignation from the U.S. Army was accepted on April 22, 1861. He was ordered to Huntsville, Alabama, to take command of the newly formed 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment. and was promoted to colonel on September 4.
Wheeler and the 19th Alabama fought well under Bragg at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. During the Siege of Corinth in April and May, Wheeler's men on picket duty clashed repeatedly with Union patrols. Serving as acting brigade commander, Wheeler burned the bridges over the Tuscumbia River to cover the Confederate withdrawal to Tupelo, Mississippi.