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Theodore O'Hara

Theodore O'Hara (February 11, 1820 - June 6, 1867) was a poet, journalist, officer for the United States Army in the Mexican-American War, and a Confederate colonel in the Civil War. He is best known for the poem The Bivouac of the Dead. Verses from the poem were used on many memorials to fallen Confederate soldiers in the South, and are even to be found on memorials in the North, including Arlington National Cemetery’s McClellan Gate, formerly the main entrance to the cemetery.

Most sources give O’Hara’s birth place as Danville, Kentucky. A historical marker outside the Boyle County Courthouse in Danville states the same. However, the authors of a recent biography state that O'Hara was most likely born in Frankfort, Kentucky, rather than Danville1. Some sources also mention that O’Hara attended Centre College before graduating from St. Joseph Academy in Bardstown, Kentucky. O’Hara was taught by his father, Kane O’Hara, before attending St. Joseph’s, and was never a student at Centre.

1 Hughes, Nathaniel Cheairs, and Thomas Clayton Ware. Theodore O'Hara: Poet-Soldier of the Old South. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1998.