Francis J. Herron, born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on February 17, 1837, served as a Federal commander here at the Battle of Pea Ridge. After attending Pitt University, Herron clerked at a bank and then joined his brothers in Iowa where they established a bank. Before the Civil War, Herron led the “Governor’s Gray’s” militia company which he offered to Abraham Lincoln two months before Lincoln’s inauguration.
When the Civil War began, Herron mustered into the Federal army as a captain of the 1st Iowa. Captain Herron served at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, which the Federals lost. In September of that year, Herron became a lieutenant colonel in the 9th Iowa.
Herron accompanied the Union army as it chased Sterling Price and the Secessionist Missouri State Guard out of Missouri and into northwest Arkansas. Lieutenant Colonel Herron’s troops arrived at Pea Ridge the night of March 6th from Huntsville, Arkansas. Herron commanded the 9th Iowa at the Elkhorn Tavern during the fighting there on March 7th. Lt. Colonel Herron was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. While attempting to slow the Confederate push southward, Herron rallied his troops to stand firm against the advancing Rebels. After being wounded in the right ankle by canister shot from a Confederate cannon, Herron was taken prisoner. Despite his efforts to rally his men, the Federals were forced to retreat towards Pratt’s Store.
After the Federals claimed victory on March 8th, Herron went eastward with Van Dorn’s Confederates but was traded on March 15, along with fellow Union officer, Colonel Chandler, for Confederate officers Colonel Louis Hebert and Major W.F. Tunnard.
On July 16, 1862, Francis Herron was commissioned Brigadier General of Volunteers. Herron would serve at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, for which he is known for marching his troops 125 miles in 3 days with no tents or equipment from Wilson’s Creek, Missouri so that Confederate General T.J. Hindman could not overwhelm Federal forces under James G. Blunt. On March 10, 1863, Herron was promoted to Major General of Volunteers for his efforts at Prairie Grove. The latter part of the Civil War saw Herron command the XIII Corps at Brownsville, Texas, and the Northern District of Louisiana. At the end of the war, Herron was appointed commissioner to negotiate treaties with Native Americans. On June 7, 1865, Francis J. Herron resigned from the U.S. Army.
After the Civil War, Francis Herron spent time as a carpetbagger in Louisiana, served as Louisiana’s United States Marshall from 1867-1869, and served as Louisiana’s Secretary of State from 1871-1872. With the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the south in 1877, Herron moved to New York City where he spent time in the manufacturing business.
Francis J. Herron died on January 8, 1902 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Long Island City, New York.