Summary

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Confederate) 1
Branch:
Confederate Army 1
Rank:
Brigadier General 2
Birth:
January 24, 1832 2
Petersburg, Virginia 2
Death:
February 6, 1865 2
Dinwiddie County, Virginia 2
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
John R Pegram 1
Birth:
January 24, 1832 2
Petersburg, Virginia 2
Death:
February 6, 1865 2
Dinwiddie County, Virginia 2
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Civil War (Confederate) 1

Branch:
Confederate Army 1
Rank:
Brigadier General 2
Service Start Date:
1861 2
Service End Date:
1865 2
Enlistment Date:
1861 1

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  1. Civil War Soldiers - Confederate - Officers [See image]
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Stories

John Pegram

Pegram was another of the sons of the South who thought more of honor than money – else he would not have chosen a military career. He graduated from West Point (1854) and was a dragoon in US service. In 1861 he went with his state (Virginia) and was promptly jumped from lieutenant to lieutenant colonel.

His first command was in western Virginia. At the battle of Rich Mountain (July 11, 1861) a Union force under Rosecrans and McClellan surrounded his force. Half broke out, but Pegram was captured. His defeat was one of the stepping-stones in McClellan’s successful west Virginia campaign, the campaign that catapulted him to command of the Army of the Potomac by the end of the month.

Pegram wasn’t imprisoned long, and when exchanged he was posted to the cavalry on the other side of the Appalachians. For a bit he was chief of engineer to Beauregard, then Bragg; he then rose to be Kirby Smith’s Chief of Staff. He finally got back into field command with a cavalry brigade, which was detached to support Forrest’s raid on Murfreesboro. He went on another raid, into Kentucky, then in November 1862 he took command of a division of cavalry in Forrest’s Cavalry Corps. That took him in the battle of Chickamauga, the last action he saw in the western theater.

The next month (October 1863) he received a transfer (which he’d requested) to his home state. He took command of an infantry brigade in II Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia in time for the Mine Run Campaign. The next spring he was wounded at the Wilderness, and returned in July, when the whole division had been moved out to the Shenandoah Valley under Jubal Early. He fought at the third battle of Winchester, which broke the Confederate strength in the Shenandoah. Casualties were heavy, and earned him promotion when his division commander (Stephen Ramseur) was transferred to take command of another division. Pegram was never promoted to Major General, but he led the division the rest of his life, through the bitter dregs of the Valley Campaign, and on to Petersburg when the remnants of Early’s men were transferred there.

He married during the long, cold winter of 1864-65, in Richmond. The Confederate capital was starved of entertainments, and his wedding was a social highlight. On February 6, 1865 he was killed at the battle of Hatcher’s Run, when his division and “Little Billy” Mahone’s fought off a Union raid on Lee’s flank.

 

Brigadier General John Pegram


 

 

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.

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