About this Famous Person
Earl VAN DORN
United States Army officer, fighting with distinction during the Mexican-American War and against several tribes of Native Americans
Source : Tim DOWLING
Van Dorn was born near Port Gibson in Claiborne County, Mississippi, to Sophia Donelson Caffery, a niece of Andrew Jackson, and Peter Aaron Van Dorn, who worked as a lawyer and judge. He had eight siblings among whom were two sisters, Emily Van Dorn Miller and Octavia Van Dorn (Ross) Sulivane. His sister Octavia, had a son, Clement Sulivane, who was a captain in the CSA forces and served on Earls staff; he later became a Lt. Colonel. In December 1843 Earl married Caroline Godbold, and they had a son named Earl Van Dorn, Jr. and a daughter named Olivia.
In 1838 Van Dorn attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated four years later, standing 52nd out of 56 cadets. His family relations to Andrew Jackson had secured him an appointment there. He was appointed a brevet second lieutenant in the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment on July 1, 1842, and began his Army service in the Southern United States.
Van Dorn and the 7th were on garrison duty at Fort Pike, Louisiana, in 1842 to 1843, and were stationed at Fort Morgan, Alabama, briefly in 1843. He did garrison duty at the Mount Vernon Arsenal in Alabama from 1843 into 1844, and he was ordered to Pensacola harbor in Florida from 1844 to 1845, during which Van Dorn was promoted to second lieutenant on November 30, 1844.