The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 
BG James Johnston Pettigrew

BG James Johnston Pettigrew

Birth
Tyrrell County, North Carolina, USA
Death 17 Jul 1863 (aged 35)
Bunker Hill, Berkeley County, West Virginia, USA
Burial Creswell, Washington County, North Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 11050 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. The son of Ebenezer and Ann Shepard Pettigrew, he began life in Tyrrell County North Carolina at "Bonarva", the family's prosperous plantation on the shore of present day Lake Phelps. Born James Johnston Pettigrew, he was known throughout his life by family and friends as "Johnston". From his formative years, his mental capacities were described as a "gift from god" and well-advanced of other boys his age. Contemporaries predicted that he would "become an extraordinary man." Indeed, at the age of 15 years old, he enrolled in the University of North Carolina and would graduate at the front his class in 1847. Upon graduation, he accepted an offer from Matthew Fontaine Maury to become an Astronomer at the National Observatory. From the time he resigned this position to the outbreak of war in 1861, he traveled the world learning some five languages; authored the book "Notes on Spain and the Spaniards in the Summer of 1859, with a Glance at Sardinia"; became a South Carolina Statehouse Legislator and a distinguished leading attorney in Charleston. With South Carolina leaning toward secession from the Union in 1860, he became Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Rifles of South Carolina, regardless of the fact that he had no military experience. Soon thereafter, SC Governor Francis Pickens appointed him a military aide. The negotiations with Major Robert Anderson after that officer had moved his forces to Fort Sumter and the forceful possession of Castle Pinckney would become his first services to what would become the new Confederacy. He declined the appointment of Adjutant General of South Carolina and commissions of Major and Captain in the "Hampton Legion" and eventually entered the ranks as a Private. His desire to serve his native state of North Carolina was realized on July 11, 1861 when he received word that he was elected Colonel of the 22nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment (he had declined an offer to become a General in the SC forces in lieu of this). Likewise, in February 1862, he once again would decline a promotion to Brigadier General because he had not led soldiers into battle and was "not conscious of having earned so flattering a position". Soon thereafter however, he accepted the commission after he was urged to reconsider his refusal for it. His first action would be at the battle of Seven Pines, Virginia on May 31, 1862. During the battle's fierce chaos, a minnie ball struck him in the throat passing through his shoulder severing a blood artery. He resigned himself that it was mortal and refused to go to the rear. He eventually passed out from the loss of blood and would have died if not for the actions of a Georgian Colonel. Retreating Confederates saw him motionless and reported that he had been killed which led to him being officially listed as killed in action. In reality, he fell into federal hands the day after and remained a prisoner until being exchanged in August, 1862. During the Confederate's 1863 offensive campaign, his brigade made first contact with federal cavalry on June 30, 1863 outside of a small town in Pennsylvania. Unbeknownst him, the encounter would be the prelude to the bloodiest conflict of the war, the battle of Gettysburg. His Brigade suffered a great deal in the dislodgement of the federals on McPherson's Ridge on July 1, 1863. With the wounding of his Division commander, General Henry Heth, Pettigrew as senior brigadier was placed in command. On July 3, 1863, he gave the order "forward" and personally led his division's attack on the federals' center on Cemetery Ridge. The ill advised assault, known in history as "Pickett's Charge", was made over open ground and under withering enemy fire. Pleading his men forward, the attack reached within feet of the stone wall before the survivors of the charge were repulsed and forced to staggered back to their lines. Defeated, he was one of the last to leave the field and upon returning to the Confederate lines; Robert E. Lee told him "General Pettigrew, it is all my fault". He was assigned to the rearguard of the Confederate Army as it made the trek back to Virginia. At Falling Waters, Maryland on July 14, 1863, he and a group of officers were standing in the front yard of a farmhouse when they were surprised by a small force of Federal cavalrymen. Taking aim at a blue horseman, his revolver misfired, giving his intended target a chance to fire. Pettigrew was shot in the stomach. Confederate surgeons told him that the wound appeared to be mortal and his only chance at survival were to be left behind for the impending federal army to care for him. Not wanting to become captured again, he disregarded these concerns and was transferred to present day Bunker Hill, Virginia. In the early morning hours of July 17, 1863, his life ended after telling a staff officer; "It's time to be going". His body was returned to North Carolina where it lay in state at the capital in Raleigh. Upon reading his last will and testament and learning his wishes were to be buried in the Pettigrew Family Cemetery at "Bonarva", his remains were removed from a Raleigh cemetery and re-interred there in November 1865.

Bio by: Stonewall



Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

How famous was BG James Johnston Pettigrew?

Current rating:

55 votes

Sign-in to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 16 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11050
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for BG James Johnston Pettigrew (4 Jul 1828–17 Jul 1863), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11050, citing Pettigrew Family Cemetery, Creswell, Washington County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .