John Pegram, C.S.A.
( 1832 - 1865 )
Major General (Lieutenant-Colonel at the time of Rich Mountain) John Pegram was born in Virginia on January 24, 1832. He was appointed a cadet from Virginia in the United States military academy, and was graduated in 1854, with promotion to brevet second lieutenant of dragoons. He served on frontier duty, first at Fort Tejon, Cal., and afterward at Fort Riley, Kan., where he was commissioned second lieutenant of dragoons, and at Forts Lookout and Randall, in the Dakota Territory. His duties in the west were relived for a time in 1857 by assignment as assistant instructor of cavalry. Promoted to first lieutenant of the Second Dragoons, he became adjutant of that regiment, and resumed his frontier service until 1858, when he was given leave of absence for two years for a tour of Europe.
On his return he continued in the United States army until May 10, 1861, when he resigned. He was commissioned Captain, Corps of Cavalry, C.S.A., and was promoted rapidly to higher grades. As Lieutenant-Colonel he participated in the operations of General Garnett's command in Randolph County in the summer of 1861. Confronted by the Federal forces in overwhelming numbers under McClellan and Rosecrans, Pegram was entrusted by Garnett with the command of one of the two bodies of Confederate forces. A rear attack by Rosecrans compelled him to withdraw after a gallant fight, from Rich mountain, and two days later he was compelled to surrender with half his command. He was later exchanged.
After his return to the Confederate Army he was assigned to the staff of General Bragg at Tupelo, Miss., as chief of engineers, July, 1862, and later became chief of staff of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, in command in east Tennessee. In that capacity he participated in the Kentucky campaign and the battle of Richmond, where his services were gratefully recognized in the report of the general commanding. In November he was promoted to brigadier-general and assigned to the command of a cavalry brigade of Tennesseeans in Smith's army. With this brigade, he participated in the battle of Murfreesboro. Subsequently Pegram's unit performed outpost duty and various active operations until the battle of Chickamauga, where he commanded a division of Forrest's cavalry corps.
Subsequently he was transferred to the army of Northern Virginia and the infantry service, being given command of a brigade in Early's division of the Second corps, composed of the Thirteenth, Thirty-first, Forty-ninth, Fifty- second and Fifty-eighth Virginia regiments. With this gallant body of veterans he was in the campaign from the Rapidan to the James, and was particularly distinguished during the second day of the fight in the Wilderness, when his brigade repelled the persistent assaults of the Federals, who were determined to turn the flank of Ewell's corps. In command of Early's division, he took part in the campaign against Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley in the fall of 1864. After the return of these forces to Richmond area, he continued in command of the division, a part of Gordon's corps, throughout the winter.
On February 6, 1865, he moved from camp to reconnoiter and was attacked by the enemy in heavy force on Hatcher's run. His men were pressed back, in spite of a brave resistance, until reinforced by the division of C. A. Evans - when the Union troops were in turn forced to retire. After meeting a second check the Confederates reformed and charged again, driving the Federals, and in this moment of success, General Pegram fell mortally wounded. His death occurred later the same day.
Source: Evans, Clement, Confederate Military History, Volume III, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899.