Brigadier General States Rights Gist — Yes, this is his real name!
During the American Civil War, one of the largest hot button issues that led to the war next to slavery was the issue of states (often the two issues went hand in hand). Often people are accused of wearing their politics on their sleeve, during the Civil War there was one Confederate general whose name led to no doubt as to his personal politics. Brigadier Gen. States Rights Gist (yes this is his real name) was perhaps the most bizarrely named Civil War general to fight on either side. States Rights Gist was born to Nathaniel Gist in 1831. At the time, one of the most popular southern politicians of the day was John C. Calhoun, a stalwart Democrat who supported slavery, nullification, and most importantly states rights. Nathaniel Gist was such a passionate supporter of Calhoun and the idea of states rights that when his son was born, he chose to name him after his political ideals. Thus he named him “States Rights Gist”. No this wasn’t a nickname, “States Rights” was his legal first name.
Gen. States Rights Gist served bravely as a Confederate officer throughout most of the war, taking part in the battles of Fort Sumter, Manassas (Bull Run), Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, and Atlanta. During the Battle of Franklin on November 30th, 1864, he was shot in the chest, and died soon afterward.