Benjamin McCulloch was born in Rutherford County Tennessee the son of Alexander and Frances Fisher (LeNoir) McCulloch. The family was part of old Virginia planter stock, but McCulloch’s father moved the family west often. They settled finally in Dyersburg, Tennessee were McCulloch’s neighbor was David Crockett. In 1835 when Crockett went to Texas, McCulloch and his brother Henry head for the state. Because of Ben contracting measles the brothers had to hold up for a few weeks, and were saved from being in the Alamo when it fell.
McCulloch fought for Texas under Sam Houston as part of the artillery. He received 960 acres of land for his service. He took up land surveying for the Republic of Texas, before joining the Texas Rangers as a lieutenant under Captain John Coffee Hays. In 1839 McCulloch was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. By 1842 McCulloch was back fighting Indians and Mexican with the Texas Rangers. During the Mexican American War he was appointed Chief of Scouts under United States General Zachary Taylor with the rank of Major. When gold fever struck in 1849 McCulloch traveled to California, where he would become a sheriff in Sacramento. He was back in Texas by 1852.
With the coming of the Civil War, Texas seceded from the Union on February 1st 1861 and on the 14th McCulloch received a commission from Confederate President Jefferson Davis to Colonel. McCulloch met with Union General David E Twiggs on the morning to February 16th 1861 and demanded his surrender. McCulloch was promoted to Brigadier General. He put together the Confederate Army of the West with men from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indians from the Creek, Cherokee and Choctaw nations. Their first action was at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10th 1861, where they defeated Union General Nathaniel Lyon.
McCulloch was in command of the Confederate right wing at the Battle of Pea Ridge. His troops, after much maneuvering over took a Union artillery battery on March 7th 1862. The fight continued through the morning and McCulloch who was riding out in front to scout positions was shot out of his saddle. He died instantly. He was buried on the field at Pea Ridge, but was later moved to the battle cemetery in Little Rock. McCulloch’s remains would be moved finally to the State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.