In the American Civil War, he served as a Confederate general, appointed commander of the Trans-Mississippi District. At the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862, he was defeated by a smaller Union force, partly because he had abandoned his supply-wagons for the sake of speed, leaving his men under-equipped in cold weather. At the Second Battle of Corinth in October 1862, he was again defeated through a failure of reconnaissance and removed from high command. He then scored two notable successes as a cavalry commander, capturing a large Union supply depot at Holly Springs and an enemy position at the Battle of Thompson's Station, Tennessee. In May 1863, he was shot dead at his headquarters at Spring Hill by a doctor who claimed that Van Dorn had carried on an affair with his wife.
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