Polk, Leonidas

Polk, Leonidas a noted American prelate of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and a general in the late war between the Northern and Southern States, was born at Raleigh, N. C., in 1806. He was educated for the army in the United States military academy at West Point, N. Y., but had served only a few months as lieutenant when he determined to take orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was ordained deacon in 1830, and in 1831 took a rectorate. In 1838 he was made the missionary bishop of Arkansas and the Indian Territory, south of 36° 30', and in 1841 bishop of Louisiana. He then took up his residence at Lafourche parish, where he had extensive plantations. Being a man of wealth and enjoying a life of ease, he never paid very much attention to ecclesiastical labors, and did but little to strengthen the work of the Church within the range of his diocese. At the outbreak of hostilities against the North he was on the side of the planters, and did all in his power to further the secession movement. Not only did he speak in public and contribute from his purse, but he offered his services to the Southern Confederacy as soon as established, and was made a general in their army. He early urged upon Jefferson Davis and the other Confederate authorities the importance of fortifying and holding the strategical points of the Mississippi Valley, and in other ways proved himself a far-seeing and skilful adviser of their cause. He took part in several battles, and though not always very prominent in action, was ever indispensable in council, and contributed greatly to whatever success the Confederate cause achieved in his days and surroundings. During a reconnaissance near Marietta, Ga., he was killed by a cannon-shot, June 14,1864. tie had never resigned his episcopal dignity, but was buried with military honors. Though bishop Polk gave his life in what we consider an unworthy cause, we must revere his memory for his sterling qualities as a man who was not afraid to do what he believed to be his duty. He was noted for his kindness of heart and the most devout Christian life, such as he understood it to be. See Men of the Times, s.v.; American Annual Cyclop. 1868, p. 679; Drake, Dict. of American Biography, s.v.

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