Military officer, b. in Dungannon County Tyrone, Ireland, 12 Dec., 1810; d. at Ottumwa, Iowa, 1 June, 1879. He emigrated to the United States in 1826 where he at one proceeded to study law and began practicing at Kaskaskia, Ill., in 1832. He was elected to the state Legislature in 1836; became state auditor in 1839 and judge of the state supreme court in 1843. He was fulfilling his duties as commissioner of the general land-office when war with Mexico was declared, and he was commissioned brigadier general by President Polk, 1 July 1846. General Shields served with distinction under Taylor, Wool, and Scott, and gained the brevet of major-general at Cerro Gordo, where he was shot through the lung. He was again severely wounded at Chapultepec, and was mustered out in 1848. The same year he was appointed Governor of the Territory of Oregon, which office he soon resigned to represent Illinois in the United States Senate as a democrat. After the expiration of his term he removed to Minnesota and was United States senator from that state from 1858 to 1860, when he removed to California. On the breaking out of the Civil War, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, 19 August, 1861. He fought gallantly in the Shenandoah Valley campaign, opening hostilities at Winchester, though severely wounded the preceding day in a preliminary engagement. While in command at Port Republic he was decisively beaten by General Jackson and resigned his commission, 28 March, 1863. He returned to California whence he removed to Carrollton, Mo., where he continued the practice of law. He subsequently served his state as a railroad commissioner and was a member of the Legislature from 1874-79. He was United States senator from Missouri at the time of his death. A monument was erected to him in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Carrollton, which was unveiled by Archbishop Glennon on 12 Nov., 1910.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911)